This year we’re going to force the children to be charitable. And I say force, because charity doesn't seem to come naturally to 5 and 3 year olds. Not to mine anyway. So, we've filled a shoebox with things that they really, really want for themselves – and that would be anything at all that is destined for someone else – and sent it off to some less fortunate and probably far more grateful children.
Both my little beloveds have birthdays towards the end of the year and by gum, they are lucky, lucky children. What a haul they both got. Transformers featured. My Little Ponies were in evidence. There was a Princess Colouring Table and a Lego plane. And they both got a party. Phew. And it’s only a month until Christmas.
I’m not saying they are spoilt. I’m mainly not saying that, because that would make it my fault. Maybe, I thought to myself, they just need a little bit of perspective. They need a few opportunities to be kind and think about other people.
The first attempt at this was a toy clear out, with unplayed with things going to a local charity shop. The thing is when you try to throw away a toy, you draw attention to it and it becomes the bestest thing they’ve ever owned, something they LOVE and play with ALL the time. So, first attempt at instilling kindness was a failure. I just filled a bin bag while they were distracted by some other toys...
Operation shoebox was was a success after a fair bit of coaching. We bought two bears from Ikea. The nicest bears my daughter had ever seen. She wanted these bears sooooo much and was jealous of the little girl who is going to get the bears. Not entirely the reaction I was looking for. Still after a lot of talking it through she negotiated one nap with said bears ‘so I get just one cuddle with them’. She also now has a very clear understanding of the level of poverty the children who get these shoeboxes suffer. Yes, she has grasped the full extent of their less-fortunate lives with a deep and meaningful sense of empathy: ‘This bear is for a little girl who doesn’t have anything fluffy’. That’s right, Em – NOTHING FLUFFY. Heartbreaking stuff.
Our third attempt shall be: MINCE PIE MISSION. And I think this one will be the winner. We have made the mincemeat and they loved this bit. Next we are going to think about people who help us in our lives and we’re going to give them mince pies in December. Yep, we are going to pop out and surprise the bin men with mincies. The lollipop man too. We might even drop some off at the local police station (although they may suspect foul play). There’s got to be loads of opportunities for giving away mince pies hasn’t there?
And, whilst this may not be world-changing stuff, it is a pretty tangible and concrete way to introduce the concept of charity to the children. And if they are at all reluctant to give away the mince pies, I shall bring out the big guilt guns: ‘These mince pies are for people who have got NO PASTRY’.