Catherine Cloutier | L’Emmèredeuse
In the last few years, the way I look at the holiday season has completely shifted. I’ve gone from thinking of it as a commercial holiday centred on gifts to one focused on spending time with my family and helping others.
The fact that my eldest son is getting older and is now five has contributed to this change. I want him to understand how fortunate he is in life.
Good deed #1: Make a drawing for the bus driver.
Since Thomas started kindergarten, I’ve told him that it’s important to say hello and goodbye to the people he encounters. Smiling at someone can turn that person’s day around. He now greets his bus driver every morning and evening.
As a gift, we made her a drawing with a note thanking her for driving Thomas safely to school every day.
Good deed #2: Sort through old toys and give some to children in need.
It’s difficult for Thomas to go through his toys as he’s very attached to them. I don’t force him, but I ask him to give away at least one toy that he hasn’t played with in the six months since his birthday.
Then we clean it thoroughly so that it’s as good as new. Several organizations ask for donations during the holidays. Visit the La grande guignolée des médias website for collection points in your area.
Good deed #3: Give treats to your neighbours.
We have some incredibly nice tenants who live downstairs. We like them a lot and know that our children often cramp their style simply by doing the normal things that children do: they run around above their heads and leave their toys in the yard.
They yell when they play outside and have probably robbed our neighbours of sleep. We therefore gave them homemade cookies in a pretty box with a Christmas card. If your children like to do crafts, Christmas crackers with love notes are easy to make and can be given to friends and family.
Good deed #4: Help those in need stay warm.
I love to knit and crochet. I sent several winter hats to the “25 000 Tuques” movement in Quebec last year to benefit Syrian refugees, and I wanted to continue to give back with the rest of my yarn. You don’t have to go far to find homeless people. There are some even in our village.
I now keep a few hats, scarves and pairs of mittens in my car to give away when I came across someone who might need them. In a few weeks, I’ll bring the rest to an organization that helps the homeless. Thomas watches me knit and I’m happy to tell him why I’m doing it. I hope he’ll pick up the habit of helping others.
Good deed #5: Volunteer your time.
Time is one of our most precious commodities. We’re always rushing around because there’s so little of it. But this year, we decided to volunteer as a family. This is another tradition we wanted to start with our children. Even at the age of five, Thomas asks questions and can understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.
I encourage you to choose an organization or a cause that’s important to you and, as a family, give of your time. One of the best gifts you can give your children is to teach them to be aware of those around them.