In Lieu of Birthday Gifts…Charity Jammies
If you recall, I posted in November about trying to rein in the extreme amount of Christmas gifts my kids get. P’s birthday is in July, so we previously had a ton of time between the Christmas reining and the birthday reining. But N’s birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas. I just finished Jenga-ing all of his holiday gifts into the house, now I have to find more space? For more stuff that he really doesn’t need?
I am so grateful for the generosity of others, but I don’t want my kids to grow up spoiled or greedy. I don’t want them to get stuff for the sake of getting stuff. So I decided to forgo gifts for N’s birthday and use the opportunity to do something for charity. That’s right, I asked everyone to skip gifts for him and bring items for charity instead. Specifically, one set of pajamas, and one book, for the Pajama Program. I made my request on the invitations to his birthday party. The response to this idea has been extremely enthusiastic, BTW.
Why did I choose the Pajama Program? For several reasons:
1. It provides both jammies and books to children in need (From the Web site: “These children live in various situations including group homes, shelters and temporary housing facilities and are shuffled often from one place to another. Many of them have been abandoned, abused or neglected. Most of these children have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a mother or father tuck them in at bedtime with warm, clean pajamas and a bedtime story. Some of the children we serve are living with their families below the poverty level, in desperate need of food, clothing and shelter.”).
2. I believe that the comfort provided by cozy jammies is both simple and significant.
3. I believe in the importance of books and want all children to have their own libraries. Even if their library has only one book.
4. I believe in the power and importance of having something of your own, especially when you have very little.
5. It gave me an opportunity to teach P that not all children have all of the wonderful things she and her brother have, and our donations can help make them feel special and cared for.
I struggle with the thought of how some children have nothing while my children have everything. I want my kids to know how fortunate they are, and I want them to develop a generous spirit when it comes to helping people who are truly in need. I plan to use their birthdays as an opportunity for them to give back. Now before you think I’m planning to ruin the rest of my kids birthdays and you chuckle about how P and N are going to hate me for giving away their future gifts, let me assure you I’m not. My plan is to limit their gifts to their grandparents and me and Willy. Friends and party guests will be asked to help support a charity that is close to us. So the children will still receive presents. They just won’t receive an obnoxious amount, and they’ll be learning about charity.
As the kids grow, I will encourage them to find charities that they want to support with their birthday donations. If they want to help stray dogs or nearly extinct whales, that will be fine. For now though, I’ll choose ones that are close to my heart. Mainly ones helping children who need help, love, and nurturing.
PS – N’s party is this weekend. I’ll post an update on how everything went after the spoils are donated.