My children lead blessed lives.
Just by the simple occurrence of being born in Canada, they are probably a kajillion times were more fortunate than most other children in the world.
Safety. Freedom. Health care. Education.
Add to that being born into a loving family with educated parents who are able to provide plentiful healthy food, toys, trips…. the list goes on.
They are fortunate little souls. We all are.
I want my boys to grow up thankful. To understand that while we have, there are many more others who have not. I want for them to want to reach out and help others. To help the bullied child on the playground. To be a good friend. And to share some of what we have with some others who are not as fortunate.
At three and half, I feel like this Christmas Tristan is old enough to understand a little more about what it means to help others. In the Christmas spirit, and to hopefully light a spark of generosity and kindness, we’ve had a few little projects on the go.
Firstly, I took Tristan on a shopping spree to purchase toys for Operation Christmas Child. We easily (over!)filled two shoeboxes for little boys Tristan’s age with goodies they may not have received otherwise. I explained to Tristan that we would be going shopping and that we may find things that we would really like for ourselves… but that this shopping trip was not about us – we already have lots of toys at our house. I explained that the toys we bought would be for children who didn’t have many toys to play with.
I was a little nervous that he would go crazy when he saw things like his fave dino toys, or some really cool stickers, demanding that he just had to have them. But Tristan amazed me yet again. He happily filled our cart with toys for two unknown strangers, exclaiming, “Oh mom! The friends we don’t know are going to love these!”
Be still my heart.
We’ve also been talking about how some “friends” wake up in the morning and have nothing to eat for breakfast. When we get up, we go downstairs and make our toast and pour our cereal so that our tummies aren’t hungry. I explained that some children go to school with hungry tummies, because they just don’t have enough “snacks” (as Tristan refers to most food products!) at their house. We wanted to share some of our “snacks” with other children, and Tristan happily handed off a couple of grocery bags full to our local OC Transpo food drive.
I can only hope that I am instilling a sense of gratitude and lessons on giving that Tristan (and eventually Logan) will carry with them as they grow. I want them to understand that even the smallest of acts can make a difference in the lives of others.
There was a poem I heard as a child that communicates this same wisdom, and it still resonates with me today.
The Starfish Poem (From the works of Loren Eisly)
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”