I had a totally different topic in mind this week. I really wanted to write about my nostalgia for toys that don’t suck. It’s true that toys these days are just not made to last, most don’t work well to begin with and barely get played with before they are forgotten. BUT then I remembered that this is my problem. If I don’t like the toy, I don’t have to buy it. Am I really doing my kids a favor by buying them all these toys to begin with?

I don’t consider my kids spoiled, but they certainly have a lion’s share of stuff. They get new toys for Christmas and their birthdays and that’s it. Yet they have so much stuff it’s taking over my house. Too often the thrill of opening the present outweighs the desire to possess and play with the toy. I realized that a post complaining about toys designed by manufacturers almost exclusively to piss parents off, while it would be hilarious it wouldn’t be helpful. What I want to teach my kids is gratitude, but it’s not a quick lesson, it’s a lifelong one and it all begins with me. It begins with MY attitude.

It doesn't take more than a simple shoebox filled with little treasures to change a child's life with Operation Christmas Child.

It doesn’t take more than a simple shoebox filled with little treasures to change a child’s life with Operation Christmas Child.

So I decided that along with our church, we would participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse. The idea is that you pack a shoebox with small toys and personal hygiene items for needy kids around the world. For some children these will be their very first presents. Can you imagine that? Never having once had the thrill of opening something that was just for you. I cannot imagine my children would be thrilled with soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, and small toys from the dollar store, but there are children for whom these gifts are the very best treasures they could ask for. I took my kids to the dollar store and Hannah picked out items for a little girl – aged 5- 9 and Jay picked out items for a boy aged 5-9. They were told all about the program ahead of time and they were happy to help me. They knew going into the store that we were NOT shopping for ourselves. When we got home they helped pack the boxes.

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It’s a small step I think. They are very young and gratitude doesn’t come so easily at 5 and 7. We also took clothing and food donations to our school for their holiday drives. I’m all for lightening the load of my household for others. I know getting my kids involved in charity work is one of the best ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Every small step is one in a lifetime that they’ll take toward the people they will become. I want for my children to be kind, compassionate, grateful and humble. I want them to remember how truly blessed they are, but I realize now that it’s not enough to know you’re blessed, you have to be someone else’s blessing. I am far from a perfect mother, but I hope that one day my children will understand that they are my blessings.

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If you’re looking for more ideas on how you can volunteer with your children, check out The Whatever Mom’s Post – Charity Starts At Home- 7 Ways To Give Back With Little Ones In Tow.

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