Last Sunday we got cozy with some quilts from my home and read the story The Quiltmaker’s Gift and I asked the kids “why is this a good story for Thanksgiving weekend?”
Answers they had:
- It’s about being happy with what you have and not always wanting more
- It’s about how the best things in life, the things you should be grateful for, are people and not stuff
- Sometimes when you have too much stuff you can’t appreciate it because it’s more than one person can ever play with
- Giving things away makes us happy
They’re right, aren’t they? So many of us already have too much stuff, and the quest to get more doesn’t make us happier. Money can’t buy happiness … or can it? The Middle School group is exploring the topic of money this fall, and they recently watched a TED Talk about “How to Buy Happiness“. Researcher Michael Norton found that one reliable way money could increase people’s happiness was if they spent it on other people – if they gave it away as a gift.
Here we are, entering the holiday season when gift-giving is a huge affair. And yet young children are most often only the receivers of gifts, not the givers. How can we bring a practice of Giving into our holidays? A few ideas:
- Actionforhappiness.org has created a lovely Kindness Calendar for December
- You can do a Reverse Advent and collect donations each day as you count down to Christmas, as described here by Mum in the Madhouse.
- Send cards or stamps to help the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Prison Ministry
- Help your kids pack and personally give away gift bags for people experiencing homelessness. This blog post on Huffington Post has helpful tips, particularly around language to use when approaching people who might want the gift bag.
- Take a box home from OUUC and participate in the Guest at Your Table program for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
May our holiday season sparkle with kindness and giving, and may our spirits be lifted in the process.