Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, the fast pace into the Christmas holiday season has begun. When I visited my favorite local Wal-Mart last night, the bell-ringers were already there, positioned and poised for tips. As we passed by, my curious son looked at them, then at me to see if we needed to "do" something about the bell-ringer standing there, ringing the bell. I've grown 'numb' I should say to the presence of those types of appeals for anything. Holidays have become so commercialized that its past ridiculous and actually being sensitive to the needs of others requires a mental focus on whatever the requested need may be. I have found this to be true especially at giving holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems at those times of the year, there are more appeals for giving and less money to give. But walking by the bell-ringers one more time wasn't teaching my son how to have the giving spirit.
The Salvation Army is most notably one of more prominent and highest fund-raising organizations seen outside of stores during the Christmas season. The sounds of the familiar bell can be heard ringing and ringing as you enter and exit the store. When my son sees them, every time he sees them, he always, always, always wants to make a donation. I usually give him our spare change or even one dollar if we saved a lot in the store. But sometimes I don't give him anything, reminding him that we have to "eat" and "put gas in the car". Like one dollar is going to really make that much of a difference, right?
My son is watching me. He wants to see if I respond to the bell-ringer's request to give money. While to him right now, it's more of a fun thing to do - - put money in that pot, I feel that a lesson can be learned. But what I'm more concerned about is where his mindset will be in about 15-20 years. I want to set an example to my son that giving is necessary. Giving is needful. Giving is good.
So now when we pass the exuberant bell ringers ringing and asking for your spare change, I gladly give my son what we have so he can give it away. He's so happy and excited to share with the Salvation Army, and they show their gratitude by thanking him over and over and smiling (genuinely) at him. He's learning that giving is a good thing. And no matter how distracted we are, or how busy we are as we scurry out of the store, if we can slow down and share a little it can make a huge difference.
Or at least light up the face of a six year old kid.