HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
December 11, 2006, Herald Journal

The spirit of giving


With the holidays upon us, it is a wonderful time of year to highlight the spirit of giving and involve our young ones, of all ages, in the giving.

I was delighted when I heard and read about two local girls who went door to door this past Halloween, not collecting candy, but rather collecting goods for the local food shelf, an example of the spirit of giving initiated by our young people.

What a great idea. If we have candy and goodies to give, we can most likely afford a few items for the food shelf.

In a discussion with a mother of two elementary students who were trick-or-treaters as well, her family had the idea of sending some of their Halloween goodies to some troops and military personnel. Another great idea, and it would be easy to involve the children in the packaging of the items and the such.

This prompted me to go to my church to get a list of members of our church who were serving in the military, and do the same with our supply of Halloween candy. You could certainly get troop addresses from different sources as well.

There are so many simple ways we can carry out that spirit of giving and involve our children in the process. Of course, role modeling that spirit and acts of kindness is certainly the most effective teaching tool for our children.

How we treat other people, what we say about others, and how we conduct ourselves in front of our children has a large impact on them.

When our children see us opening up a door for someone, greeting someone in a respectful way with a smile and a hello, helping out a neighbor, or being polite with the cashier when checking out it teaches them to do those same things and live with the value system of treating others with respect and a helping hand.

I remember, as a child, my parents were always willing to lend a hand and be a “neighbor.” My father, who would have been 91 this past Nov., and my mother who is 85, used to tell me stories about times during the depression years when they would allow people to sleep in our haybarn because some folks had no place else to go.

Now of course, with all of the security issues, we all must be cautious. But there are ways we can continue to help each other out.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. If we speak rudely to a sales person, talk negatively about our neighbors and show disrespect to others in front of our children, this negative behavior can have negative effects on how our children may interact with others and view situations.

When it comes right down to it, we are all human beings who at one time or another will need some help from someone along the way.

No matter how much money someone may have or where they live or what their name is, we all need to feel respected by others.

Again, there are so many ways we can lend a helping hand. Our Girl Scout troop is going to make those popular fleece tie blankets for some shut-ins and people residing in a local senior care center and some smaller ones for the local pet shelter in Hutchinson.

The girls are going to tie them, and we will deliver the blankets as a troop. What a lifelong lesson for our young people, and they will gain just as much from the experience as the receivers of the blankets.

That certainly is just one example of how we can involve our children. With the holidays, a gift of simple caroling can go a long way to brighten people’s season and lives. And that’s what it’s about.

With that, this holiday season we can all engage in the “spirit of giving” and lend a neighborly hand to others, even if for brief moments of a cheerful greeting or kind words. It’s amazing what a simple gesture can do for someone to enhance their day. Let’s role model those neighborly ways and involve our children in these acts of kindness and continue that attitude all through the year.

I can’t remember where I read this or who said this but if we can all live by the motto, “If I have done something kind for someone today, then I have lived well today.”

May we all live well each and every day, and pass that same spirit on to our young ones!

Making those fleece blankets

If you haven’t yet made one of those fleece blankets, here are the directions:

Of course, get your fleece first, and again if making for a gift it’s fun to involve your children in the choosing of the design, etc. (I always check the clearance aisles out too). Depending on the size you would like the blanket to be and who you are making it for, certainly determines how much fleece to buy.

The recommended size for a blanket is a yard and a half of each layer (two layers); for a lap blanket, a yard of each layer would be sufficient; and of course, for our animal friends or for a doll or a stuffed animal, it would be even less.

Cut both layers of fleece at the same time.

Lay fleece layers wrong sides together. Cut a square out of both pieces at each corner. Remove selvages. For small blankets, such as for a cat or a doll blanket, you could omit this step. This is a great gift idea for children to make for a friend or someone else as well.

To make fringe, cut six inches into fleece at one inch intervals around all four sides and of course if the blanket is smaller the cut would be decreased to three or four inches, etc. You could use tape on top of fleece, placing six inches or whatever the distance using, to be used as a cutting guide for fringe.

This is where the children can really get involved. Double knot fringe pieces together, using one strand from top layer and one strand from the bottom. Repeat around all four edges, or with the front strip lying on top of the bottom strip, tie the two strips together into a single knot.

You’ve got a wonderful blanket–made from the hands and heart.