I was talking with a friend yesterday who has children the ages of my youngest grandchildren as we talked I realized how blessed my life has been because of children. First my own, now grandchildren. As I write this, I look around and the evidence of children surrounds me. The pile of family pictures I’m choosing from to create a collage for the Annual Anderson News You’ll Never Use newsletter, a calendar open to December messy with planned family events – a movie, concert, kids program, Christmas Eve. The family room still shows signs of a well-played out Sunday afternoon – a blanket fort (mostly collapsed), Barbie houses set up neighborhood style with the wardrobe and itty bitty shoes tossed all over (just like a real life bedroom). Kids create a lot of work. Kids also create a lot of joy.
On my phone, I have stored hundreds of pictures – most of them kids and grandkids. I also have cherished text messages – “love you”. I am neither a perfect parent, nor a perfect grandparent, but should I ever question my value as a grandparent or parent, I carry the written proof around with me 18 hours out of every day. Kids provide unconditional love, are forgiving and supportive.
I pay real money for great report cards. The truth is, the report cards would be great even without the incentive, but this is my way of wrapping my arms around each child and saying “I’m so proud of you!” in a tangible way. Education is important and being able to read well is one path to guaranteed success. The monetary bonus is miniscule in comparison to the future it represents. Kids are the future. Whether through education or life experience it’s our responsibility as parents and grandparents to prepare kids to make wise decisions and lead knowledgeable, productive lives. I also love to go overboard just a little at Christmas and choose gifts I know will be the source of happiness for many months after the season has passed. Kids are expensive and worth every penny.
I never thought much about the verses in the Bible about children. You know the ones about children being a heritage from the Lord; and blessed are the parents who have their quiver full; and a little child shall lead them. What I have learned though is that kids come to us packaged with the same emotional, physical, and spiritual needs that we, as adults have. They need encouragement, love, acceptance, and they need physical comforts – and a few extravagances too. Whether you have your own children or not, there is a child in your life who needs you. You might be an aunt, an uncle, a distant cousin, a childless neighbor – your experience with kids might be just what you watch out your window or listen in on parents talking at work. Maybe you don’t even like kids. I’m not sure how that happens, since you were once a kid yourself. But let’s get beyond that.
This is the Christmas season. Take the opportunity to participate in the life and encouragement of a child. Here are some ways – please pick one and be a star in the life of a child. Local area toy donations, say ‘yes’ to one charity fund raiser, Salvation Army Red Kettle donation sites, Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, Goodwill, in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area there is Kids Food Basket, Mel Trotter Mission, In The Image, and many others.
See kids for who they are – young people, just like you, only updated to today’s version. We’re all used to updated versions of everything else, aren’t we?