It used to be the most common thing. Caring for others was just what we did. My whole childhood is filled with memories of caring for people. I can remember spending all afternoon making jam with my mom only to give as gifts to our neighbors and teachers. If we met someone with a need, we did what we could to meet it. Just before Christmas, we would select Angel Tree presents for children whose parents were in jail. One year I asked Santa to get a porcelain doll for my friend. She had told me her family couldn’t afford to get her one and she loved playing with mine. Santa came through and brought her a porcelain doll for Christmas. I was so excited to give it to her the next day.
Caring: How Do We Get There
Now, caring is an art. Something to be attained. To be completely honest, I’ve been treated like a fool for caring. Somehow we’ve become very confused. We think caring for others takes away from what we get-and that’s true. The thing is we see that as a bad thing.
Being a caring person is an attribute we all have. It’s instilled into our core. From an early age, I see children wanting to care for others without any thought as to what that means for them. I’ve seen children give their favorite toys to friends. So many kids ask if they can give their fast food meal to the man standing on the corner holding up a sign “Anything helps.” I’ve seen kids look at new babies and instantly want to give them their most valuable treasure-usually a stuffed bear or blankie.
Sadly, we as adults tend to view caring as a moment instead of a lifestyle.
The art of caring is ingrained in us. It’s who we are by default, but as a whole we have become overwritten with new programs. Ideas that say, do what benefits you. Help yourself. Or even, help others until it starts to affect you. Pay for a friend’s coffee, but don’t try to help them with their real problem-getting their kids to school while they’re down a car.
Heaven forbid you give so deeply it makes life uncomfortable for you. That’s unwise. Insert heavy sarcasm if you didn’t pick up on it.
I’d love to see the art of caring become a new normal. Start implementing in your children the art of thinking of others. Lead by example. This is the perfect season to start!
10 Ways To Care
- Help your kids go through their toys and donate what they don’t play with. I know you paid over $50 for that cool remote control car, but if your kid doesn’t play with it-let someone else have it!
- Make an entire meal for a neighbor or elderly person in your community. Don’t skimp!
- Offer to watch someone else’s kids. Sure it might mess up your house or inconvenience you, but think of what it could mean to someone else.
- Pay for someone’s groceries. Not just $15 worth, but the whole thing.
- Stop and listen to that friend of yours who can be a bit of a time sucker. You know who I mean. The one you try to politely avoid because they seem to only talk about themselves and their problems. Try listening for once. Give them your attention.
- Find something to give that takes work to put together. Maybe you can chop some firewood and deliver it to homes with fireplaces. Or offer to haul someone’s old mattress to the dump for them. You could even offer to clean someone else’s house. I know-I’m talking crazy here!
- Buy a couple kids coats that you can either donate or pass on if you know any families in need. Shoes are another thing that can bless a family.
- Write a thoughtful letter to a friend that you haven’t had a chance to connect with in a while. This is a great one to do with your child. Let him/her think about who they want to write to as well.
- If you know of a family in need, take them Christmas shopping. Or find a local church or halfway house to find a family that can’t afford presents this year. I know Salvation Army usually has a list going of families in need too.
- Buy someone a Christmas Tree. It’s amazing how many families can’t afford something like this. While it’s a small thing-it can mean the world to them. We’ve bought quite a few trees over the years whenever we find out there’s a need. There are a lot of elderly people who need help hanging lights around their house. I got a call last year after Christmas from our neighbor telling me she was so happy to look at our lights out her window because she wasn’t able to get her own lights up. Can you even imagine?? I wanted to cry!
So take some time to practice the art of caring. It’s more valuable than you think.
Let me know what you try out of this list or if you do anything different to spread some love!
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