I've had a really tough time with guilt when shopping for my kids this season.
Of course I want them to have a good Christmas. They are great kids.
But somewhere inside me I've felt like there's something seriously wrong with just going out and buying them "stuff" when there are so many kids who need things so much worse. I have been trying with all my heart to come up with a great solution. Who can we help? I know there are tons of great, worthy causes out there, but I was looking for something WE could do...together...working outside of ourselves. Not just throwing money at something, but really rolling up our sleeves and really making a difference.
Our own family project.
Maybe I have too big a vision in my mind and I just need to settle down, but I can't. I just have this continual pang in my heart and voice in my head saying, "get out there and do something meaningful with your family! These kids need to give outside of themselves. They need to see the bigger picture. They need to sacrifice. They need to learn the true meaning of LOVE MORE...and so do you!"
My sisters both had "Children for Children" concerts this year. It's something my family did when we were young...had a big neighborhood concerts in their neighborhoods where all the kids would perform their talents for the adults who would pay whatever admission price they felt inclined to, and all the proceeds went to a worthy cause. I wish we could have "gotten it together" this year, but I just physically could not do it. It was like one of those dreams where you are trying to run away from a bad guy and you just can't move and coordinate your muscles right, and you wake up so tired and un-rested because you've been trying your darndest to run all night long.
So, in answer to my prayers, a lady stood up in Relief Society last week and announced she had a family who really really needed help this Christmas. We jumped right on it, and it's helped fill a little of the void. As a family we shopped together, wrapped together, talked about it all together. It really helped.
But there has to be something more...something I can really get us all involved in on a long-term basis. Something that we can really do to physically, emotionally, spiritually help someone...not just throwing money at the situation. And in the process, we'd physically, emotionally, and spiritually help ourselves become more whole...more a part of the bigger picture. I want to get in the thick of it with the kids. I want them to open their eyes and realize what's really going on out there. I want them to know there are kids out there who not only don't have skateboards and bikes, but who are abused and starving to death, and I want them to help figure out ways we can help.
I've been worried about this for quite a while. About six months ago the title of Newsweek was all about global giving, and I thought, "there's my answer!" But as I skimmed through the pages I found nothing...it was just all skimming the surface. There are SO many needs out there!
How can I make giving more poignant to our family? There are tons of ways to give money. Giving money is so important and necessary, but how can I get our family to really feel it. We tried taking them to live in China for a summer. I felt like that was my big chance! We'd be able to really see the world from a different perspective. And we did. But we were also surrounded by people who have a lot. Drivers, maids, live-in babysitters...not quite what I had in mind. But yes, their eyes were opened to how another part of the world lives. We lived in a neighborhood filled with people from every corner of the world. And yes, we did get to get out and see people living in the shanty towns with nothing but a little hut made of garbage for shelter. But did we change anything? I guess yes, we changed ourselves. And that is great. We became more aware and compassionate that there are people out there with needs. But now how do we help them?
Maybe I have a skewed view of the world because I grew up in a family that traveled a lot and was always involved in ways to "give back." Maybe part of my guilt comes from that being so great and I'm not living up to it. And I know not every family can do what we did, we just had the stars aligned in the right way to make it possible and very determined parents. But I'm glad for the guilt because it's going to kick me into gear here one of these days and we're going to make our big "drop in the bucket" and make a difference somehow. After Christmas my goal is to start a "sister school" thing with my kids' elementary school and a school where Dave and I visited in Africa a few years ago. I'm excited about that prospect of at least getting us started in something. But I'd love to welcome any other ideas. I know there are so many people out there with amazing ideas of ways in which to "give back" and I'd love to hear them.
Sorry about the random ramblings, but I have to get this out. I know we do a lot of good. We serve in our community, we teach our kids to look out for others who may be lonely or sad, we bring cookies to a cute elderly lady with MS in our neighborhood. We build each other up and we talk at dinner about the world and life and how amazing it all is. We truly love each other and I do feel like a good, loving family does change the world. Who knows what these kids will grow up to be...I bet they'll be great. But I want so much to reach out more to the world somehow. And I'm glad for the guilt until I figure it out.