The Habit of Giving


This November is a great time to get your children into the act of giving. With so much death and destruction taking place in the world, it would be nice to stop and help someone else — and teach your children to be empathetic. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids.

I had a ritual with my daughters when they were young. I would make the Thanksgiving meal for my family. Cook some greens, string beans, a ham or turkey for the church to serve those who needed a meal on Thanksgiving Day. So, while my turkey was cooking, we went to our church in West Baltimore to serve those in need and serve them with dignity. The girls were dressed in their holiday best. And they loved serving. Often, they would fight over who would serve what. They even spent time talking to those who were alone.

It meant a lot to them to do this and for me to have them take part. They learned empathy, the ability to feel for someone else without feeling pity for them and to treat them with respect no matter how they were dressed or what they looked like.

They looked forward to it each year. In later years we didn’t do this as much, but we did find other ways to help out during the holidays.

You don’t have to serve a meal. You can make up simple care packages. My friend Mindy Basara does this on a regular basis with her kids. When they see someone who is homeless and in need, they have already packed bags with toiletries and snacks to hand out in lieu of money. I think is a terrific thing to do. I met a woman in New Orleans after Katrina who said that she, too, does that now that she’s back on her feet, because so many people helped her out.  This was her way to give back.

It doesn’t always have to be money or a meal. It can be care package. Sometimes we judge and we judge too much. Even those who are sick, and sick because of drug misuse and standing on a corner begging, need help — whether it’s to get a fix that day to keep from being sick or to get a bite to eat. Imagine if that person was your family member.

While you plan your meals and offer your reasons to be thankful, know you are blessed and bless someone with your generosity. Make the kids part of planning and execution. Ask them how they would like to help someone. It will help them to be great citizens now and in years to come.

Have a great holiday.


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