“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
At Christmas time each year, thoughts turn to what we can give children to make them happy. Actually, one of the best things we can give a child is the understanding of the joy of giving. Children are often only recipients of gifts, but they need to learn that it is more blessed to give than to receive; otherwise, they will grow up thinking only of themselves.
I learned the lesson of letting someone give, no matter how meager their means, when we lived on the Navajo reservation. Just as we often think that children can’t give, many of us often think that grown-ups of meager means can’t give.
When our two older boys were small, we worked with the Navajo people. On one occasion, we were in Gallup, N.M., when a Navajo gentleman from Ramah, N.M., saw us and asked us for a ride back to Ramah. As we went down the road, he said, “Lamb, stop. Get pop.” In his broken English he was telling us to stop and buy him some soda. My husband said, “You buying, McDaniel?” I was shocked! To think that my husband would expect this poor Indian man to buy pop for us! McDaniel was taken by surprise as well. He grinned and kind of chuckled under his breath, and after a moment said, “OK”. My husband pulled up to the trading post, McDaniel got out and went inside. When he returned, he had soda for Keith, himself, and me, and had even bought ice cream bars for our boys! He had a big, broad grin on his face of complete satisfaction! He had bought something for those “rich” white people! I almost choked as I drank the pop, but realized as we drove on down the road what a wonderful thing had happened. McDaniel had changed from a dependent person to making us dependent on him. He had found real worth and felt real pleasure in being able to give to someone else.
It is the same way with children. When children give, they feel a real sense of worth. There is no feeling that compares.
Children do not have to give expensive gifts, but the gifts do need to be from them personally. It is not the same for parents to give money to children to buy gifts, for then the gifts are actually from the parents. I once received a handmade card from our grandson. As his mom was getting it ready to mail, he said, “Wait!” He ran and got a quarter, a dime, and some pennies. “I want to send these to Nana,” he said. When I received the card, there was a little baggie stapled to the top with the change in it. He was giving me what he had because he loved me. I still have it and will probably keep it for a long time!
The best way to teach the joy of giving is to encourage children to give. Doing so proves the point!