Shoeboxes on Christmas Eve
Ann Voskamp wrote a powerful article on The Grateful Christmas Project. She describes keeping charity catalogs around the house, and each child chooses one gift for the less fortunate. To combat the Sears catalog tendencies of our commercialized youths, many of us keep World Vision, Compassion, Heifer International, or Lutheran World Relief under our trees. We want our kids circling chickens for needy families, not another race track to clutter the playroom.
But if your children are younger, they don't really understand why a family needs a goat or a well.
May I suggest building a shoebox online through Operation Christmas Child? It costs $25, and these unmarked boxes often go to "closed" countries where it's very dangerous to spread the Gospel. What I like best is the website is so interactive. My son can drag and click items he wants in his shoebox, and he understands why a kid would need a toothbrush, a flashlight, or a ball. It's been a quiet Christmas Eve tradition for us for a few years now. Just before he begins the marathon of Christmas presents, it's a time to stop and remember those without Christmas presents and Christ's presence.
Also, Operation Christmas Child almost immediately sends you an email telling you where your box was sent. This gives your child a visual for the kinds of kids who could receive his/her box. And as any good homeschooling Mama will tell you, it's also a lovely opportunity for a geography lesson about another country!
Finally, may I suggest you pack a box for a 12-14 year-old boy? These are always the least packed boxes.