It’s the end of November and you survived Thanksgiving. Maybe just barely, but you did.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

You made it through another year, days you might have thought you weren’t going to make it, some days you hoped would never end and you made it through all of them.

Do you remember what you ate on Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or even your birthday?

Let’s try this ... name all your holiday gifts from two years ago, to include Secret Santa, the box you got from your Aunt Gertie, those 10 gifts the kids got that were gone by February. I bet you’re at a loss.

From November through the end of December, we seem to stress ourselves out trying to make everything so perfect — the tree has to be just so, we must make cookies for everyone, the kids have a “Santa Wish list” a mile long and do we even want to discuss Christmas cards?

Have we forgotten to enjoy the holidays? To me, it seems the “spirit of giving” became the “spirit of give me” in society.

Several years ago, I knew I was done with the commercialism of the season and wanted to change how my children saw things, but how? We already adopted families through Families in Crisis and gave to bell ringers, but how could I impress upon them more of a spirit of giving during the holidays?

The request from their school for canned foods hit me like a ton of bricks. My girls went grocery shopping with me on a regular basis and picked items from our pantry to donate when it was time but they’d never shopped for food to donate. A new tradition was born that continues to this day.

Every year, I give them $100 to grocery shop for the food pantry with. They have a list of what items are most wanted at the food pantry and it’s up to them to choose what they want to donate.

I push the cart and observe them debating on what’s a good deal, what splurges they can afford and over the years their choices for our personal grocery cart have changed from expensive junk to reasonable needs and occasional splurges and when one of them asks to purchase something mid-year for the food pantry because it’s on sale, my heart bursts with pride.

To me, that’s the holiday spirit living all year long. That’s when I know they get it, they get the spirit of giving and isn’t that what we ultimately want our kids to get? To have the privilege and opportunity to help others versus an attitude of entitlement could be the best gift we ever give to our children.

It’s one we don’t often consider giving until it’s too late and they may end up having to learn it on their own.

In my humble opinion, an attitude of giving is the greatest gift we can give our children.

Kathryn Leisinger is a Herald correspondent.

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