Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. As a kid, my Mom worked very hard, and though we didn't have a lot, she always made sure we had a wonderful Christmas morning. As much as I loved opening Christmas presents, I equally enjoyed watching others unwrap the gifts I had gotten for them. My grandma would always give me a few dollars, and I'd go shop for a gift for my mother. No matter how terrible the gift, she would always act as if it was the greatest thing she had ever gotten.
Now that I am a father of three, I try to show the same enthusiasm for each gift I receive from them. I have also tried to show them that Christmas should be more about giving than receiving. With kids, words don't always sink in, so you have to lead by example. Each fall, we have our closet clean out. I tell the kids to find all the clothes and toys they don't wear or play with so that we can donate to kids who do not have as much. They have actually begun to look forward to it.
Each year, my wife and I adopt a family through "Least of These,” here in Nixa, for the holidays. Last year my daughter had an assignment in one of her junior high classes. The idea was to do something to make the world better. She came to me and asked if she could adopt a family. She wanted to wrap gifts to earn money and ask for donations from others to help a family in need. I was so proud of her. She accepted a single mother with three children as her family to help out. My daughter was able to get everything from the want list. We personally delivered the gifts to the family, and my daughter loved it so much, she said, "Dad, I'm gonna do this every year."
My daughter’s 14th birthday was this past July. For her birthday party, she asked that everyone donate gift cards, toys, kids clothing or cash, so she could adopt a family again this year.
We have begun to keep care bags in our vehicle during the winter. My boys love to look for people they think may be homeless and in need of food or water. If we see someone, they enjoy handing out the bags.
You don't have to make monetary donations or buy things to help people. I donate a lot of time to various organizations, not only to help others, but to lead by example, and encourage the joy of giving to my children.