Instilling The Spirit Of Giving

A first letter to Santa by the author’s son

A first letter to Santa by the author’s son

Dear Santa, I am a good boy.

That’s part of my son Kaimana’s first official letter to Santa Claus. He’s asking for a present from Ala Moana Center that he’s been begging Mom and Dad to buy.

Now, I have nearly caved to purchase aforementioned toy more times than I can count on one hand. But I’m resisting the urge so Santa can bring it on Christmas morning, if Kaimana is a good boy.

It’s a parental balancing act. On the one hand, I want my children to have what they want. On the other, I don’t want to spoil them.

It’s a funny time of year. We go straight from expressing our thanks for all we have for Thanksgiving to writing long lists of what we want to get for Christmas. I remember doing the same as a child.

Richard Morris, co-author of Kids, Wealth and Consequences: Ensuring a Responsible Financial Future for the Next Generation, suggests parents approach the holidays with less focus on buying gifts and more about the spirit of the season.

His top three lessons:

1. It’s better to give than to receive.

2. Teach children about the concept of charity.

3. Remind your child to be grateful for gifts they receive.

I hope to use this Christmas as a teachable moment. One idea is to take my son and daughter shopping for others their age, to fulfill the modest wishes of children with tags on the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Sure, they’re 2 and 5. It’s worth a try.

Children and seniors assisted by the Salvation Army don’t ask for much. We’re talking basic necessities like a comforter or hair clips, not iPads or a Playstation 4. I saw one senior’s tag on the Angel Tree requesting a small coffee maker. Last Christmas, the community helped the Salvation Army collect more than 62,000 gifts.

Many recipients go on to become the program’s most generous supporters when their financial situation improves. Former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi never forgot the help his family received when he was a young boy. You can help show aloha by putting loose change in a kettle, picking a tag off the angel tree, donating cash or dropping off a gift at Central Pacific Bank branches.

Like my son, I’ll admit there’s something I’ve been eyeing at Ala Moana Center. But rather than give in and get another purse I don’t need, I will make my list and check it twice. That’s Morris’ lesson list for parents. Not my wish list for Santa.