The Gift of Giving

As the season marches on, our family continues to work to emphasize the “giving” rather than the “getting.” You might remember looking at W’s list a few weeks ago that had 13 items on it (front and back!). We want our children to find joy in giving, to be excited about doing something kind for someone else, and for that to fill their hearts.

Last week we went “shopping” in our extra toy closet in preparation for a toy drive at W’s school. I laid out all the toys and gave each child a bag so they could “shop” for someone else. They had a great time filling their bags, and M even decided she wanted to do more because there weren’t enough things for little girls. We promised her some time to shop online for additional items, and we loaded up the car for drop off the next morning.

As we drove to school, W sat clutching one of the toys ready to hand it off to the teacher who got him out of the car that morning. “Mommy, I’m getting really excited about giving toys to other children, he said. I held my breath thinking maybe things were beginning to come together for him. “That’s great!” I responded. “Yes, because then THEY are going to give all these TOYS back to US!” Ok. So still a ways to go. But we were getting closer. It’s hard to be 4.

However, typical M brought it all home the other night at bedtime after an online shopping session with daddy to buy gifts for her brothers. “I’m so excited about Christmas,” she said. “Mostly because of giving gifts to W and J.” That’s it right there. That’s all we want: a little moment of knowing the world is bigger than our own wants and needs. A moment to realize that the magic comes from the giving. A moment to realize that it’s not about us.

As parents, we are realizing it’s not the easiest lesson to teach, especially not in today’s world. However, it’s one of, if not the most, important thing we can pass on to our children—-to be a giver, to be a helper, and to spread joy in this world. So, we will continue to teach the lesson today and everyday after that.

Find the joy,


Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at for more information or to schedule a consultation.