sex

The present that will teach your kids what Christmas is really about.

“I think we should donate some money this Christmas,” I said to my kids.

“Do you mean donate some money to Santa?” my five-year-old son asked, confused.

Well, no. Not quite.

It’s important to me that my kids realise how lucky they are. They were born in a wealthy country. They have parents who are employed. They’re healthy. Yep, they’re lucky.

My kids get presents at Christmas, of course, but I don’t want that to be what Christmas is all about for them. It’s hard, because that’s how Christmas that is promoted. That’s just natural, because it’s a huge sales opportunity for all sorts of businesses. But it’s more than that. “What are you asking Santa to bring you for Christmas?” adults ask kids, constantly. They never ask, “What are you planning to give other people for Christmas?”

true meaning of christmas
"They should give so that they learn how good it feels to make other people happy." Image via iStock.

But giving should be as big a part of Christmas as receiving, even for children. They should give so that they learn how good it feels to make other people happy.  They should give because other people are needy, and they should give because they can afford to.

I don’t want my kids to think that they are entitled to things, that all they have to do is look cute and people will give them stuff. I don’t want them to be – and I know this is an old-fashioned concept – spoilt.

In previous years I’ve used those schemes that let you buy useful things for families in developing countries. My children have selected goats, chickens, pigs and piles of poo from catalogues, to be delivered to people who need them. The first year, my daughter was terribly disappointed to realise the goat and the pile of poo weren’t going to going to be delivered to our front door.

This year I thought I’d try something different. I wanted to start a conversation with my kids about giving, and I wanted them to decide for themselves which charitable cause they would most like to donate to at Christmas.

Once my son moved beyond the idea of donating to Santa, he told me he would like to help homeless people. “Maybe they could move into our house,” he suggested, generously. “They could sleep in your bed.”

Once my son moved beyond the idea of donating to Santa, he told me he would like to help homeless people. “Maybe they could move into our house,” he suggested, generously. “They could sleep in your bed.” Image via iStock.
ADVERTISEMENT

I explained to him how it would be better if we gave money to support people so they could have their own place to live. Meanwhile, my eight-year-old daughter was keen to donate to children.

“I want every child to have a happy Christmas this year,” she said.

We went online to check out the Charity Register run by the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission at acnc.gov.au/findacharity. We used the advanced search function and typed in “children” in the name field and selected “risk homeless” from the beneficiaries field to search for charities my kids might want to support.

The register contains details on more than 54,000 charities. It will tell you whether a charity is registered with the ACNC or whether it’s had its charity status revoked. It has information on what the charity’s purpose is, how big it is, where the charity operates and who’s responsible for it.

true meaning of christmas
"Helping children appreciate how lucky they are is like a gift in itself." Image via iStock.

My kids were able to make a choice – they chose a charity located in our home state, and I was able to check that the charities were above board.

It’s nice to make donating to charity a Christmas tradition, along with putting up the tree and going to see the Christmas lights.

Helping children appreciate how lucky they are is like a gift in itself.

How do you teach your kids about helping others in need?

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. You click, we help. Shooting star illustration.

Mamamia is funding 100 girls in school, every day.

So just by spending time with Mamamia, you’re helping educate girls, which is the best tool to lift them out of poverty.

Thanks for helping!

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. Girl with pigtails sitting at desk writing in notebook. Row of four books.
Three hands holding books
00:00 / ???