By Rian Ryan
Last year around this time, we received our Christmas Gift catalogs from various organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion International. I took the time to look through them with my kids and give them some options of what we could buy to support children and their families around the world. Children who don’t have the things we do. Food, warm clothes, safe water to drink. Every year this is a struggle for me, to try and read the words in the catalog to my little ones through tears. Last year though, I was holding it together for a little while until my 5 year old read something and asked me about it. He asked, “Why does it say ‘No mother should have to watch her child die.’?” Enter tears. With a shaky voice I did my best to explain to a 5 year old and a 2 year old what the world is truly like for many others. That there’s enough, and yet there isn’t. How mothers like me, who love their children with their whole hearts, don’t have what they need to keep their precious babies healthy. How mothers like me, who would do just about anything to provide for their children but can’t, put their babies to bed hungry or cold. How mothers like me sometimes watch their little ones languish and die because they have no choice. And then I explained that those are the reasons we each pick a gift to send across this world each year. My tender-hearted five-year-old’s eyes lit up and he declared that he knew how he could help. “I can send money from my piggy bank!” And his brother jumped in on the action. Together we went upstairs and they each opened their banks. Ferris gave me 3 of his 4 quarters, and Dax gave me 1 of his 2 pennies. I had a moment where I inwardly wondered why they didn’t give it all. But then I looked at the 76 cents in my hand and I knew that this is the beginning of understanding, the beginning of gratitude and giving. And 75 cents and 1 cent is a lot for two small boys. And my prayer is that every year, as we go through the catalogs and I read their choices through my tears, they will grow in gratitude and generosity. That they will become world-changers because they understand their place in this world. That they will notice the goodness around them and desire it for others. Because their hearts have been changed by gratitude.