We live in a very self-centered world. We’re all guilty. Even myself. We want, want want, and we buy, buy, buy. Of course we all give, sometimes. However, I think we need to start teaching our children, from an early age, the importance of giving back, helping those in need, and that, as the Stones said “You can’t always get what you want”
This Christmas we started teaching Avery about giving, and helping others. Yes, she’s an infant, but Dave and I felt “why not start now” We wanted to get in the habit, as a family, and hopefully, if it is something we have “always done” it will never be something that Avery thinks twice about, she’ll just BE a giver. I also want her to know, that even as a child, she CAN make a difference.
At our wedding,
a million almost two years ago , Dave and I bought a bunch of books, games and toys (in lieu of favors–though we did offer our guests a pretty super candy buffet!) and we asked our guests to bring a small toy or book as a donation to Hasbro Children’s Hospital if they wished. Our guests blew us away with their generosity, and we had 4 boxes of donations. Fast forward to this Christmas–We STILL had those donations, as Hasbro was not always accepting the items we had (they have a specific wish list and can’t always accept everything) We finally were able to bring those boxes of toys in to the hospital!! There were still certain items they could not accept, so we boxed those up and delivered them to Adoption Rhode Island. Avery came with us, of course, and we explained to her why we were doing this, and who the toys were going to benefit. Of course she doesn’t fully understand, but again, we wanted to plant the seed.
Now we’d like to continue this trend with Avery’s birthday. She’ll be turning the big 1 in April, and we couldn’t be more excited for her first Birthday party! However the thing with birthday parties is the kid gets a ton of presents. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE presents! I’d be totally bummed if I didn’t get a present on my Birthday. Avery will ALWAYS get birthday presents, she’ll ALWAYS have a birthday party, she’ll celebrate Birthday Week (we’re BIG on birthdays in our family!) but….she doesn’t NEED a present from every single person who comes to her party. She’s one. She needs diapers and food and shelter. Not stuffed animals and light up toys. She has a ton of toys. She doesn’t play with any of them, she much prefers the recyclables and my car keys.
So, Dave and I have chosen a charity, and our guests will be invited to make a donation (ONLY if they want to) instead of buying Avery a present. I know, we could easily say “No Gifts, your presence is gift enough” or something like that, but our friends and family would NEVER listen to that request. (well, some would, but most…no way.) This way if they want to bring something, they can bring a donation, and if they choose not to make a donation, that is 100% fine too! Also, Avery is in a “club” over almost twenty babies, all born withing a few months of each other. That’s 20 birthday parties, for twenty kids, and twenty presents, in a matter of three months. (To further express this point, we have a birthday party every Saturday (and a few Sundays) from the 23rd of Feb, through the end of March, and Avery’s is the first weekend in April) This saves all her baby friends from feeling like they have to buy her something. (Because you know, even when you’re told “no gifts” you still feel funny showing up empty handed, at least I do!)
I was surprised at some of the negative opinions we have recieved about this decision. I guess some people think it’s too “showy” like “Look at us! We are so generous!” or it “forces people to donate to a charity they don’t want to give to” The thing is, we’re not trying to be showy, and we surely do not want our guests to be FORCED in to anything. The charity we selected is not one that is political (We’re not asking for donations to the NRA or to help with Charle’s Manson’s appeal) I’m also not mentioning the cause in my blog. The 30(ish) people we are inviting will know about it, the rest of the world will not. And those 30(ish) people are our close family and friends, who know the reasons behind why we are doing this.
I’ve also heard that it is unfair to Avery, as it’s her Birthday and she should get presents. Well, when Avery is older, she can choose, we will still give her the option to make her party about MORE than just the “getting” (just as we want Christmas to be about MORE than the presents) I hope that through us starting early, she will WANT to continue this. She’ll be able to choose what she does. Perhaps asking for a bag of dog or cat food to bring to a shelter, or children’s books for kids who don’t have any to read. Maybe she’ll donate all her presents to kids in foster care, or in homeless shelters. Whatever she chooses, will be fine, we just want her to know the importance of being generous.
Our family has been blessed to know the most caring, loving, giving family. Let’s call them The S Family. The S Family has taught me the importance of giving of yourself to help others. This family goes above and beyond being charitable, they amaze me more and more each day with their generosity. They have helped a friend of mine and her family, whom they have NEVER met and live a thousand miles from, just because. They have instilled in their children, such a sense of love and light and kindness, that even their youngest is more giving that most adults I know. They are not rich, but they give all they can and then some. The are so full of spirit and joy, and We want to be more like The S Family! They are the reason Dave and I have been doing all we can to give, and learning the absolute joy of doing so. THANK YOU S FAMILY!! We Love you!
Like I said, Avery will always receive presents from us (and her godparents, grandparents and “aunts” & “uncles”–who have already told us that the “No Gifts” clause does NOT apply to them) She will always have birthday parties, but we don’t want it to be all about the gifts she receives. We hope the feeling she gets from helping others will be her favorite gift!
So, would you ever consider doing a “Charity” Birthday party for your child? What do you think of the idea?