It’s practically spring and here I am writing about something that happened at Christmastime.
Why the heck am I writing about Christmas now?
I’ll put it down to processing a nagging thought.
Over a year ago, I decided we should have a new family tradition. What if the kids gave something before getting something on Christmas morning?
All those years of watching the Grinch and hearing Boris Karloff’s voice, made my heart grow 3 sizes that day when I thought of it. What if Christmas wasn’t about presents and bows?
What if it wasn’t about what we got and was about what we gave?
The Giving Jar was born. On Christmas morning the twins would put $2 into the Giving Jar and every other week until the following Christmas another twoonie from each would go in.
I thought I was teaching them something about generosity. I was wrong. Not completely, maybe, but wrong enough.
Every other Friday, after the kids put down their bags, took shoes off and washed hands, they would pick up their twoonies from the dining room table. One of them would open the Giving Jar and both would put their coins in.
Once in a while my daughter would count up how much had been saved. At dinner, sometimes, we talked about they wanted to donate to when Christmas rolled around. My daughter’s answer never changed: Autism Ontario. She wanted to help get more services for other children like her brother.
During the summer, my daugther started to talk about an allowance for her and her brother. It got me to thinking about when I started to get an allowance. I couldn’t actually remember when, but I did start to deliver newspapers when I was 10.
Rachel suggested that the allowance could be the same amount they put into the Giving Jar. I thought that was a pretty cool idea and we decided allowance would start after Labour Day.
The Friday routine at the dinner table became first Giving Jar, then allowance jar.
Here’s where it gets interesting for me. My son had been enthusiastic about the Giving Jar. Having 2 jars took a little practice. He wanted to put all of his money in the Giving Jar. After many months, he still wants to put all of his money in 1 jar.
The other interesting development was that my daughter didn’t want to get her allowance until she did some chores. The whole point of the allowance was to give the kids some ideas about what to do with their own money, not to trade money for work. But that’s what she wanted to do and the lapsed Free Methodist in me was very, very pleased.
Rachel had been quite determined that we were going to give the money to Autism Ontario on Christmas Eve. I had to do a little explaining that we might want to do it sooner. With the annual holiday party coming up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The kids presented the money and Rachel was even able to get another parent to chip in a twoonie.
Here’s the part that it has taken me a few months to process.
Some people assume that the project was Rachel’s and don’t give Daniel credit for it.
What they didn’t see was that Daniel would often get to the Giving Jar first. They would have missed him asking for the “Giving Jar.” They might not understand that when he was asked if the money should go to Autism Ontario he said yes.
I know that there many times that all of my children’s achievements and actions will be dismissed. Some people will look at my daughters and discount them because they are female, while some will look at my son and discount him because he does not speak as they do.
With the Giving Jar, the twins showed their generosity and their compassion.
The people at Autism Ontario were kind when accepting the donations and sent a lovely card to the kids. We were able to take a tonne of pictures of them presenting the donations. Santa even made it in to a few. Maybe it was the fundraiser in me that wanted to get the pictures and maybe it was a little bit of pride.
Rachel is suggesting a children’s mental health charity next year. We have discussed a few. Maybe next year I will write sooner about it because I will have already dealt with how people dismiss Daniel.
Until then, if you are so inclined, please visit the Autism Ontario website.