CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: Giving, not receiving, makes the world go ’round

Surrey Now reporter shares how she was taught about the importance of giving, and how she now teaches her children

A simple Christmas card with a whole lot of meaning behind it.

Pay it forward.

Three little words.

The phrase is stuck in my son’s mind – and mine – after my family, wee ones included, dropped off Christmas presents and food to a local family in need last weekend.

We did so through the Surrey Christmas Bureau, which allows people like you and I to help make the holidays a bit brighter for more than 1,600 local families this year alone.

It’s something that’s very important to my mom, and for good reason.

Raising my brother and I as a single mom, she didn’t have it easy, and we were on the receiving end of donations on more than one occasion.

Nobody in my family is rich, by any definition. But the importance of giving back – paying it forward – is something my mother has emphasized throughout my life.

And now, I emphasize that same sentiment with my children.

Whether it’s a single blanket donated to someone on the street, or making Christmas happen for a family of four that struggles to pay the rent each month, a kind gesture, a helping hand, can make the world a better place.

As my family arrived at the Guildford home last Saturday to drop off the presents and food we’d picked out for the needy family, my son was bouncing up and down.

(Full disclosure, he’s bouncing up and down most of the time anyways but he was jumping a little higher this day.)

Knowing we were going to make the holiday special for this family, Dean beamed.

“You can pay it forward, too, you know,” he said matter-of-factly to one of the older boys, grinning from ear to ear all the while.

The mother was quiet, asking if she could help bring items inside the modest rancher that housed her and her three children.

The boys were polite and quiet, just like their mom, watching as my bouncy six-year-old ran inside, put a box down, then danced around  in circles with his hands in the air out of sheer excitement.

When all was inside, this family proved a gesture isn’t about the dollars attached to it. Rather, it’s about the thought behind it.

The kids had hand-made a colourful Christmas card for our family. Inside, it read, “Thank you!! Have a Merry Christmas.”

My son was thrilled with the card, insisting on looking at it and reading it in the car after we left.

Then it was back to my mom’s for her annual tree-trimming party. The moment had passed and for Dean, the focus had now shifted to decorating the freshly cut tree.

But later on, when we were back at home, my son sat down with a serious face. He asked me if there were lots of families that needed help, like the one we’d met.

I replied that there was. A lot of them, sadly. Some parents have a hard time putting food on the table, I explained.

He looked at me with a sad expression, the idea of poverty perhaps setting in.

Dean then began to talk about how he has so many toys. Some still in the box, unopened. Some he doesn’t even play with. As does his younger sister, Lily, he pointed out.

Like we’d done in previous years, he asked me if we could again sort through his toys in order to “give some away to another boy.”

Of course, I assured.

“Tonight? Can we do it now? Christmas is almost here, mom.”

If you ask me, it’s not what you have, but what you are willing to give, that defines you.

Amy Reid is a staff writer with the Now. She can be reached via email at amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com.

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