06 December 2012

Christmas Tradition: "Happy Christmas"

This season, we introduced a new Christmas tradition to the boys, Operation Christmas Child.  

I love the idea of teaching our children about giving to others, especially in a season so often focused, especially for children, on getting.  When the boys are older, I'd love for our family to "adopt" another family at Christmas and bless the entire family with gifts and a Christmas meal.  But, at this point, the boys need smaller, more hands-on ways they can give, which is why I think Operation Christmas Child is a fabulous opportunity.
The idea is simple: fill a shoe box with toys, school supplies, toiletries for a needy child across the world to receive at Christmas time. 

Our local Chick-fil-a participates in Operation Christmas Child so we received a free Operation Christmas Child box from Chick-fil-a.

Since I knew the boys would have most fun thinking about a child their age, we chose to fill the box with items for a boy 3-8 years old.

We showed the boys these two videos of what we were about to do (the videos were particularly touching for me - to see children who were thrilled to receive items that, in America, are sometimes thought of as just junk.  What a perspective.):

I tried to really hard to prepare the boys, before we went shopping, of what we were doing.  The videos helped and I tried to tell a story to help them imagine one individual boy we were going to help - a little boy who didn't have toys and who likely lived in a dirt-floor house made of cardboard and tin in a completely different country on the other side of the world.  

This seemed really difficult for the boys to understand (not that I expected Bennett to really get it, but I had hoped Oliver might).  At the store, they either wanted to buy for themselves or their friends...or they were completely disinterested in shopping at all (who can blame them, they are preschoolers).

I realized, it's hard for children, who have very little world experience and who believe all is right with the world, to grasp the idea of the significant needs of others who don't live anywhere near or like him.  So, I asked the boys to help me come up for a name for our Operation Christmas Child.

Bennett offered up that his name could be "Batman" or "Supaman."  Oliver also came up with some crazy non-real names.  After a short bit, I finally said, "ok, listen, whoever can come up with a *real* boys' name gets to name our Child.  Any boy's name - any.  Anybody??"  We were desperate for something at this point.

Oliver thought harder and finally suggested, "How about 'Happy Christmas!?'"

He was dead serious.  He thought that was a wonderful boy's name, Happy, Happy Christmas.

And knowing that our name-choosing game would likely not end soon, I said, "Perfect!  'Happy' it is!"  So, we began shopping for gifts for our new little friend 'Happy Christmas.'

Oliver really seemed to get it at that point.  Whew. :)

We tried to place a variety of items in the box.  I used this fabulous list I found on Pinterest with 101 ideas of things to include.  I think, for next year, I am going to begin collecting things throughout the year.  It's so easy to save McDonald's Happy Meal toys, extra tooth brushes from visits to the Dentist, extra shampoo bottles left over from stays at hotels, toys from goody bags from kids' birthday parties, even left over Halloween candy...all items that can make filling a box very economical.

We chose a good variety of toiletries, school supplies and toys.  The boys helped me dream about what 'Happy' would like to receive in his box.  What kind of toys would he enjoy?  What kind of school supplies would be his favorite?  I enjoyed the process as much as the boys.  It's fun to think about blessing another child.

Oliver did a great job packing everything inside the box.  I think this will be a favorite tradition for him as he grows up.

Before we were done, Oliver and I wrote a letter to "Happy."  I included the boys' picture.

Oliver also drew a picture to include.  Of course, it was of tornadoes.

Afterwards, we prayed for 'Happy' and asked God to take good care of him.

The, we wrapped the box with rubber bands as the directions asked us to.  I went online and paid the $7 it takes to cover mailing the box.  Since I did it online, we were able to receive a barcode that is supposed to track the box as it travels to its country destination.  We hope to hear soon where our box will land.  It look forward to teaching Oliver more about the country it finds itself in.

Until then, we will continue to pray for our Operation Christmas Child and hope that 'Happy' really does have a Happy Christmas this year!


  1. What a great tradition to start! I've done Operation Christmas Child for years, and always love it. I was blessed to be part of a box distribution once in a tiny remote rural village in Honduras, and it was an unforgettable experience. Due to logistical complications, the kids happened to get their boxes at Easter. But they were no less excited than if it had been Christmas. We got to do a puppet show and a short Easter drama, both with Gospel messages.

  2. Wonderful tradition and I love that list!


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