Did you survive? Did your child adjust to the Fall Festival or Trick-or-Treat costume? Was all of the excitement too much?
How about the CANDY? Did you take your 30% parental cut?
Every parent wants this time of year to bring special memories of autumn, the crisp crunch of fall leaves imprinting recollections with joyful thoughts of costume-filled gatherings. We kill ourselves trying to adapt things perfectly for our atypical children. Yet, do we think of what we might do after we've made it through to the other side?
Once the calendar flips from October to November, most of us are left with more candy than any of our children could possibly need. In fact, most of us raising children with extra challenges have to show extra care when it comes to allowing metered doses of sweets. And for some of us, sugar and nuts are blacklisted altogether.
So what is a parent to do?
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSINGIt happened quite accidentally, but our family discovered early on that this copious confectionary collection could be transformed into a majorly teachable moment for our kids.
Shortly after the Halloween mayhem, the excitement of national collection week for Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child ensues. For nearly 2 decades we have engaged our kids in the joy and wonder of preparing a shoebox for OCC filled with goodies for youngsters overseas. These boxes contain small toys, school supplies, toiletries and you guessed it, candy.
While only certain types of sweets are appropriate to ship in these boxes (only non-chocolate gummies, caramels, gum, or hard candy are allowed), helping our children sort through their October goodies to share with the children of Operation Christmas Child has been a powerful exercise;
- It has built a global perspective in them at a young age. Telling the story of why we are filling these shoeboxes and where they are going has taught our children that not everyone enjoys the same life as them. They now realize that there are many children around the world who live in poverty, not knowing Jesus as they do.
- Difficult life skills are developed. Our children learn self-denial when they suddenly have to face giving away a prized treat they have run around collecting. They discover that generosity comes from a much deeper place than just giving away our extras or throw-aways.
- They gain the perspective that just a little can be more than plenty. In a culture where enough is never enough, our kids learn to push away from the notion that they always need MORE. Moderation becomes a better baseline. They learn that they can be perfectly content and grateful with a little treat while making another child really excited about this small treasure. And this is a terrific mental adjustment before the avarice of secular, commercial Christmas advertising floods in.