I am completely convinced that the urge to gift things to children is rooted in evolutionary biology. Like a knee-jerk reaction or the urge to sneeze, we are powerless when it comes to turning over lovingly bought and wrapped gifts to children. One could feasibly make a strong argument here in favor of conditioning, sure. Like Pavlov’s well-trained dogs, you might say that we’ve taught ourselves to melt at the sound of little squeals of delight or at the sight of miniature ear-to-ear grins, but I beg to differ. I’m with Darwin all the way on this one.
Only… it makes it that much harder to say no.
I know, I know. How could I, right? How could I fly in the face of thousands of years of evolutionary progress and hold back a present that could instantly illicit the biologically correct reaction my heart is so hard-wired to desire? Well, it’s easy. It’s that I truly believe that the lesson the kids in this equation get from all this irrepressible gifting is indeed tantamount to conditioning.
Kids need to learn to, well, need. To want and to hope. They need practice in actually striving for something, working towards or behaving in a way that will earn them said item, experience, or even emotion. That’s right, sometimes the only thing they should be getting is a plain old feeling of pride. Or a nice big helping of satisfaction, possibly with a side of inspiration to boot! If we succumb to our inherent need to easily see smiling faces all around us each and every time we are effectively robbing kiddos of this opportunity.
Sometimes a little humility is all they need, and never is this need more apparent than in the midst of the current season- the epitome of flagrant gifting- the holidays. So this year I’m implementing a new element to our December traditions. Following the lovely lead of Colleen over at Inspired to Share, this year I’m adding a Kindness Advent Calendar to our lineup of December fun!
Nothing over the top here. Just some simple over-the-door swag (as our local nursery so aptly calls it), some twine, and little kindness cards each brimming with something other than material booty. Return a shopping cart here, writing a heartfelt letter there, helping someone with an errand. I’ve basically added ten easy, age-appropriate acts of generosity to my littles’ happy season. Ten opportunities to be kind. To show empathy.
There are plenty of ways to recreate Colleen’s beautiful tradition. You can go for a little door swag yourself at your local nursery. The bough needs nothing more than a little spritz of water from time to time, or you could do something more straightforward with neat miniature envelopes like Colleen herself did. However you choose to do it, the point is to provide a fun new way to drive an important lesson home during a time of the year when so much else is turning their attention elsewhere. Have fun with this, friends and share with us your own take on this little DIY. We can’t wait to see what wonderful ideas you come up with!