WEEK 1 – Gift Giving From the Heart
Children are constantly learning whether we are aware of it or not. Think about this. How many times between now and December 25 do you think someone will ask your child, “And what do YOU want for Christmas?” A very innocent question, and one that is sure to get a response from even the shyest child. But if the conversation stops there, we are teaching our children that Christmas is all about receiving.
Many years ago, I was in a Community Bible Study, and one day the speaker made this statement… “Children are born selfish, we have to teach them to be giving.” My first reaction was, “NO! Children are innocent. They learn selfishness.” But the more I thought about it, the more I began to agree with her. Of course, babies are innocent, but they are also self serving… they have to be to survive. As parents we teach our children to care, to love and to share by our actions. Christmas is a perfect time to help children discover the joy of giving to others and what it means to give from the heart.
The lovely story The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell is a wonderful way to share this concept with children. It was first published in 1946 and has been in print ever since. It is a small wonder that so many of us grew up with this story! I remember the story from Christmas time when I was a little girl, and it was one of my children’s favorites. Over the years there have been many different illustrators but the story has remained the same. Our well loved copy is from the late 1970s, and although dated, I love the illustrations.The version that is in print today is beautiful, though, and I’ve been tempted to order this updated copy!
The story is about how the Littlest Angel is having trouble adjusting to Heaven. An Understanding Angel retrieves the Littlest Angel’s Earthly treasure box for him to help in his transition. Just as he receives it, the Christ child is born. In an act of pure selflessness, he decides to give his most prized possessions to the Baby Jesus. Almost immediately he regrets his decision because he thinks his gift looks so ugly next to the beautiful gifts the other angels are giving. But before he can become too distressed, God speaks. He proclaims the Littlest Angel’s gift the best, because Jesus has taken a human form, and will be a human boy, and he will value the same treasures as The Littlest Angel. For the first time he feels like he belongs in Heaven!
I know in our family, we used this story to help spark discussions of selfless giving. I also love this story because when speaking about Jesus, we often talk about the babe in the manger or the grown man. We tend to forget the time in between. But Jesus was a little boy, too! It’s a concept children enjoy thinking about!
BTW… To share the concept of giving from the heart with older children, share O’Henry’s story of the Gift of the Magi. A young couple learns about the joys of giving when they both give up their most prized possessions to by gifts for each other.
Tomorrow… Wool Roving Angels