Some of the best memories we have from traveling as a family are not related to the places we saw, the exciting things we did or the hotels we stayed at. The best memories involved giving.
Giving abroad is a process; first you make the contacts to visit orphanages, hospitals, churches, or jails. Then, as a family, you buy all the things you need to take. You see the joy in your children as they make necklaces or cards to give away Once you reach your destination, you drive for hours to reach the place and share a game of soccer with orphans, read a story with sick children, or simply share a smile and some food with special people who greatly need it. Giving abroad is priceless and it is the best part of your trip.
There’s something powerful about giving. There’s so much joy when we make someone smile and make a difference in someone’s life. Does it mean that to be able to give I need to travel to exotic locations or go on mission trips? I think deep inside we know that to give all we need is to open our heart and make ourselves available. Once we do that, we will see opportunities as close as our neighborhood, our city, our children’s school or our workplace.
But we don’t even have to go anywhere to start, because giving starts at home. That’s where we set up an environment in which we give a lot, but we also receive a lot. As a mom I can tell you that many times we show our children that we, moms, give a lot; but we forget to teach them that they also need to too. Many times without realizing it we are teaching our children that for them to give they have to receive, creating a feeling of entitlement. In some cases children will not do anything around the house unless they get something in return. Family members need to be attentive to the needs of others, not because they are expecting something in return, but just because.
The more we give, the easier it is, so here is a list of giving ideas to get you and your family started. Keep adding to the list and notice how giving will become an essential part of your life:
- Give honest compliments. Who doesn’t love to hear something positive? You will be surprised by how easy it is to make someone’s day.
- Give encouragement in different ways: Little surprising notes, texts, positive words, e-mails, or cards.
- Give together time at an organization that works in a cause you believe in.
- Give kindness, polite greetings to strangers, and smiles to those who provide services for you.
- Give love in different ways to those closest to you. Be creative. Making little surprises doesn’t take a lot of time or money; it just takes the desire to do it and they could become the best memories for those you love.
- Give your family a break from the routine and do something unexpected.
- Give everyone you speak to or listen to, your undivided attention. Don’t let electronics take you away from the moment.
- Give gifts to those who add to your life. Give cookies to the mail person, a special treat to your child’s coaches, a thankful note to someone who helped you.
- Give at a local food pantry, at church, or at an organization that is fighting hunger in your community.
- Give babysitting time to a couple who needs a little break.
- Give a listening ear without any judgement to a young teen.
- Give yourself a break and do something you love every day.
- Give experiences, open your home to friends and family. Share laughs, words, and good food.
Cultivating a giving environment takes time and lots of practice, but the effects on your family, and on society will make the challenge worth it, it becomes part of the legacy we want to leave.