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Moms Talk: A Season For Giving

Charity is a gift to the giver.

, I forgot to mention our family’s most consistent tradition. Every year, at the beginning of the holiday season, my daughter and I have a huge fight. This fight is my fault, but I instigate it every year without fail.

I tell her we have to give away some of her things.

Oh, things. The things we spend money on, and the things she finds in the dirt. Everything from a wombat stuffie lovingly brought back from Australia from her beloved Tutu to a small metal chain she found on the playground at Grasslawn park. The child loves her things.

And I am a serial un-hoarder. Lack of clutter may be my true religion.

So every year, to free up space for the inevitable flood of wonderful stuff that’s coming in the mail from loved ones from here to Mars, I try to get her to empty her drawers by giving away the toys she’s outgrown to children that need them.

And her first response is hysterical tears.

Mom fail.

I read the articles about , and her amazing campaign to give water to people who need it that is living on past her heartbreaking untimely death. Then I look at my child, sobbing while clinging to a bin of Legos that she never plays with but absolutely cannot give to a young boy somewhere who will love them.

Enough.

Keep your things, my small child. Keep your clutter. But know that under the tree this year, you will receive a gift from Heifer International. Your present will be the knowledge that somewhere in the world, because of you, another child has been given the chore of gathering chicken eggs or milking a goat. And you will hear how grateful that child will be for that chore.

The next time that we go to the grocery store, we will go over to the pre-packed bags of food for . You will look in the bags and see what people eat who have few choices in their meals. You will carry the bag yourself to the bin and put it in. And you will get nothing but a hug.

We are going through your coats to find the ones whose sleeves are too short for you and we will take them up to . On the way, I will tell you all about the very cold girl who also loves purple who is just a little bit smaller than you. Maybe we’ll walk in to drop them off without wearing our coats so that you can see why she needs yours.

And you will get to sit on my lap while I go to Rachel’s Charity:Water site. I will explain to you through my tears what this little girl did, and why so many people remember her. I will hug you and cry and give money to someone in need in memory of a child whose heart was bigger than her own life. You will sigh at your softie of a mom, and you will bring me tissues and roll your eyes. 

And someday, someday my dearest love, you will remember this moment when you see your own child’s greedy hands clinging to something that could help someone else, and you will thank me. Because you can’t reach out to the world with a fist full of Legos.

Unclenching your grabby fingers is the biggest gift I can give you.

I wish you the joy of an empty hand and a full heart. Happy Holidays.

Judith Johnston December 16, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Malia, this is a wonderful article. It just needs more widespread distribution!! Keep up the good work and I'll keep enjoying.
Sheryl December 16, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Hands down my favourite one. I make them try on their clothes every season and then after washing they go in the donation pile without asking. As for toys it helps to give them a number. Like before their birthday you can try to say lets find (her age) number of toys that she gets to pick to make roon for the same number or more toys that come in, It is hard at this age to think that way but leading by example always helps so stay with it. And Happy Giving Season!
Tim Quinn December 16, 2011 at 06:29 PM
One of my favorites. A wonderful gift to Hana, but the wombat?, really?
Jennifer December 16, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Great. Now there are tears in my curry noodles. What a truly lovely piece Malia. And I love Heifer International. My friend requested donations to them in lieu of wedding gifts. It's the one wedding gift I remember giving.
Beth Clow December 17, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Okay, so this week's tops last week's as my favorite. It certainly hits home more. Thomas boarders on anxiety attacks when we even talk about going through toys to give away to make new ones. And that's just the talking, when we actually do it he either shuts down completely or goes into hysterics about everything. I try to talk to him about others who aren't as fortunate as we are, but at barely 5 it's a really hard concept. So for now we rely on tough love, in small doses of course. Hoping beyond hope that we won't be the people calling the producers of "Hoarders" someday.
Cathy Watkins December 17, 2011 at 03:02 AM
Great article! Really gets to the meaning of Christmas. It's never too early to teach children that it truly is better to give than to receive.
Chris Macbeth December 20, 2011 at 08:56 AM
Love this article. I too try to get my kids to give up some of their stuff to make room for the new. I am happy that my 6 year old is eager to take tags from the giving tree at her school and take food in when they have food drives. She also took money from her piggy bank when her school raised money to help in Haiti then again in Japan. She is though a very spoiled girl which is my fault really. I was one of the kids who got presents and food hampers at Christmas time. I was excited when I could get something new to wear and did not have to take hand me downs or value village clothes. I have told my daughter about my childhood and she has seen some of the neighbourhoods I have lived in. I went to 13 elementary schools it would of been 15 but I took public transit in grade 7. Like your daughter she rolls her eyes and says I know you didn't have a nice house and clothes and toys when you were little. All of this is why I tend to go overboard with my kids and others when giving presents for Christmas or other occasions. I am hoping this year for her birthday I can convince her to get her party guests to donate to a charity she likes instead of getting her presents. We will see how hard it will be to convince a 7 year old.

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