We were driving home from school on Friday when Tee asked me, from out of the blue, “What does Christmas mean?” Wow, big question! When you’re seven years old, it’s easy to regard Christmas as a Santa-visiting, carol-singing, cookie-eating, gift-giving free-for-all. I mean, I’m as guilty as the next mom of trying to make all my kids’ Christmas dreams come true. But by simply asking the question, I know she’s thinking bigger than that pair of roller blades she’s been talking about for the last two months. I must be doing something right!
So we talked about the spirit of giving and generosity. That it’s important to recognize how lucky we are and to share our good fortune with others during the holidays and the rest of the year too. After all, we live in a comfortable home in a peaceful country. We are fortunate enough to have the resources to take care of one another. We’ve never been forced to choose between shelter and food, between home and safety. The closest we’ve ever come to a natural disaster is the time our basement flooded. But that’s the thing. We don’t need to have had direct experience of these tragedies to have empathy for people in dire straits and to want to help.
Of course I hope that my daughters won’t ever be in that position, but I want them to know that needing help is not a question of character or worthiness. Everybody needs a little help sometimes, and having enough to be able to help others is a blessing that deserves to be shared.
So I talk to them about walking a mile in other people’s shoes. I role model empathy and encourage them to practice perspective-taking. From simple everyday interactions like, “How do you think Kay felt when you wouldn’t play with her?” to bigger picture ideas like, “How do you suppose it might feel not to be allowed to go to school because you’re a girl?” And every year, when we’re making our Christmas lists and planning holiday gatherings, we also consider how our family can give back. In addition to donating to our local food bank, we also choose another charity to make a family donation to. Sometimes we give to environmental causes, sometimes we give to international aid efforts, and sometimes we give to disaster relief.
This year, disaster relief has been weighing on all our minds. With wildfires earlier this year here in BC and currently raging in California. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Earthquakes in Mexico. Monsoons in Bangladesh. Flooding in Sierra Leone. It goes on and on. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. How can we possibly help?
Wherever people and communities are in crisis, that’s where you’ll find the Red Cross, offering comfort and pitching in to help. Red Cross Canada responds to emergencies and emerging humanitarian crises here at home and around the globe, and our donations help make that happen.
Right now you can choose a holiday gift at Red Cross Canada. Each gift symbolizes some of the critical products and services that the Red Cross provides at home and internationally: warm blankets, food and water relief, mother and baby health packs, groceries, infant care packages, and disaster relief kits. Our gift allows Red Cross Canada to respond with the most needed supplies in the most effective way to emergencies in Canada and beyond, and I feel confident in my donation knowing that 91.3 cents from every dollar spent goes directly towards program expenses.
Now is the perfect time to give. If you donate to Red Cross Canada before December 25th, 2017, your gift will be matched by Aviva Canada (to a maximum of $30,000) effectively doubling your impact!
How do you and your family give back?
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Red Cross Canada as part of a Thrifty Mom Media influencer outreach program. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.