Wednesday, December 12, 2012

the gift of kindness

Sometimes teaching kindness to our children is harder than it seems.

Within one week, two very different stories with very different outcomes have made me wrestle with how to teach my children the gift of giving and helping in a world that sometimes, honestly, doesn't really care.

Last week, a man was pushed onto a subway track, and I was appalled not just because a photograph of the man, mere moments before his death, was splashed on the front page of a gossip newspaper.  But that no one, including the photographer (who had the time to take 49 snapshots), came to his rescue.  

For reference, in a calm, unrushed situation it took a solid
15 seconds for me to take this one unfocused photo.

I think this story hit a nerve with me because my husband also takes the train....well, I'm sure it hit a nerve for many people as we let our imagination go into over-drive just wondering what we'd do if a loved one was in that position.  

So how do we teach our children the lesson of being cautious wherever they go, if they live with the faith that there will always be people around them (much like them), willing and able to help if they were in trouble? Would they be able to depend on the kindness of strangers?

Well, two days after this subway incident, I received an email from the school.

One of the families recently lost their home due to a massive fire.  Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, but they lost almost all of their belongings in the tragedy.

I must say first, that I am very proud of the school that my kids attend.  Our school community rallied behind this family, providing clothes, household items and a place to stay during their ordeal.  Within hours of the news, I was amazed to see, when I dropped off some extra clothes for them at the school office, that there were already 4 large bags full of necessities.  An outpouring of support, donations, help and prayers still continue today.  Although the journey ahead of them will be difficult, they are grateful, just knowing that they are not alone.

It is this time of year when we are provided many lessons on giving, and there are many wonderful opportunities this season to show our children gratitude and generosity.  With the many charities and food drives in high gear, it's a great way to show how we can help those in need.  Watching the response at the school has given me a glimmer of hope that maybe our children will become the next generation of kindness.  Maybe as parents, we need to backlash against the selfishness of society and model kindness to our children so they understand that when someone falls...they help them get back up.  

Someday, maybe kindness will no longer be tagged as a "gift" that happens just for the holiday spirit, but something that happens on a more regular basis for the rest of the year.  Now that would be a true gift.

DIY Gift Tags using old Christmas cards
Every year, my kids like to bring a little gift/treat to share with the class before the Christmas holidays. 
Trying to share their resources, we used whatever we had remaining from last year's mini-greeting cards.  Each card was split it into two gift tags so there is enough for each classmate. Although this is very simple (and economical!), you'd be surprised how many parents have told me they had never thought of reusing old Christmas cards this way, until now.

First, cut the card in two.  Using the cover and a hole punch, create two large holes on the side of the card.  
This is where the candy cane goes.  On the back, using address labels, I printed out multi-labels with 
"Merry Christmas, from your friend..." printed on them.  The child signs them all.

Using the inside of the card, I cut out a rectangular shape of the greeting.
Cut the corners off one side, create a hole with a hole punch, and attach with a ribbon.
The other child signs all of these.

With just one set of cards, you can double your gift tags.  Now that's a gift tag that is easy to give.


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