Photo by Le Vent Le Cri / CC BY-SA

When friend Randy Clark recently asked, “Have you considered giving thanks by giving back,” I thought about what creates the “giving” vs. “taking” attitude.

As a child, many of us were told to eat our veggies because there were starving children across the ocean. Even though cleaning our plates wouldn’t lessen the problem, our parents often used this argument. As parents and grandparents, we should be careful not to create exaggerated expectations, which conditions younger generations to value only what they get out of this world. By creating a balanced approach, one that recognizes the blessings we have — often in abundance — with open eyes, ears, and hearts to discover the needs of those less fortunate, we open the door to sharing. We show how to assist and how to give back.

A Novel Approach

Every Christmas, my friends gave their boys up to five gifts from their wish list. After they opened their gifts, the boys were to pick one of the five toys to give away. Their sons are now teenagers and have voluntarily reversed the ratio keeping only one gift, and giving away the other four. This spirit of generosity came from recognizing their own blessings, and the needs of others.

By being aware of others’ needs throughout the holidays — we can all find opportunities to give from our abundance. Whether it’s time, talents, skills, or possessions — sharing with those who truly need, under the watchful eye of our children and grandchildren, creates a thankful heart.