How do you choose what to give a child from their wish list? What if all of it was possible?
This Christmas season, learn how you can give an entire wish list, the good kind of sweater, or the feeling of being safe.
Here are 2018’s top five Christmas gifts that may surprise you!
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1. The entire Christmas wish list
The whole thing? Yep.
When I was in elementary school, I was really good at making my Christmas wish list. Penmanship? Perfect. Spacing? Clear as day. I’d list out the store (which usually involved a boutique of the electronic variety), the names of the video games or toys, and their exact prices. They were all ranked so there would be no confusion. It was pretty successful.
Now as a parent, I’m glad my kids are less greedy than I was. They keep their lists verbal and tight, and I really enjoy giving them what they ask for. Their faces light up, and childhood memories are created. There’s a special joy in that. And maybe that’s because I not-so-secretly want the same toys they do.
But what if you could give this joy to other kids and parents? Give a gift to where it’s needed most, and you’ll light up faces and fulfill Christmas wish lists the world over — or really Christmas needs for the most vulnerable. Clean water to change lives. Good food to help little bodies grow. Quality education to equip kids for life. Spiritual knowledge in Christ to equip them for eternity! Your gift will be helping kids everywhere grow into who God created them to be.
2. A sweater someone will actually like
What’s better than a sweater? In this case, five sweaters!
All my boys want to wear is basketball shorts and T-shirts. Winter hits? Trade out those shorts for what my older son calls “house pants,” and the rest of us call “the bottom half of a track suit.” Getting them to wear a sweatshirt takes legal arbitration. They treat jeans like a punishment. And a sweater? Oh man, we had better be taking family pictures to go through the pain of making them put on a sweater. Now, I will say that they love getting pizza-themed pajamas for Christmas. But who doesn’t?
The nice thing, though, is that every kid is different. They’ve all got stuff they like and stuff they don’t. And there are kids out there who actually like sweaters, jackets, and warm clothing. Kids who live in cold climates and whose parents are working hard just to put food on the table. And right now, if you donate to give clothing to kids in need, your gift multiplies five times! FIVE!
So how’s this five times thing work? Corporate partners have donated thick coats, warm pants and shirts, heavy sweaters, hats and scarves, sturdy shoes, and more. And when your gift is combined with these donations, the impact of your donation is multiplied five times to help distribute these items to the children and families who need them most.
3. That warm and safe feeling
Because childhood should be full of love and protection.
How come when our kids are scared at night, they end up scaring us the most? That whisper you only kind of hear before you’re awake. That shadowy figure looming over your bed. My wife is a deep sleeper, and even though it’s been a few years, she still jumps up with that sharp intake of breath. But one of our kids has had a bad dream, and they need to be told it’s okay. That they’re safe. Mommy and Daddy are right here. Then morning comes, and the light of day means wrestling, giggles, and breakfast bagel sandwiches (which my son says I’m so good at making that I really should be working at our local fast food joint). All is well, and it’s off to school for adventures. This is what childhood should be about. We’ve all got stories like this. Yes, there are scary times, but it’s mostly about enjoying life and being with the people you love. Skinned knees and climbing trees and all that.
Yet millions of kids live in places where even though they wake up, the bad dream isn’t over. Exploitation, gang violence, assault, and trafficking are things they have to work to avoid as they go about their day. But the good news? You can be there for them. You can help protect their childhood through specialized preventive and restorative programs, giving them hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Kids can have that warm and safe feeling — because of your gift.
Give to the child protection fund.
4. Not ketchup
Ketchup is my kids’ favorite condiment, but you need the right kind of food, too.
Can you take the love of ketchup too far? I tell my kids that their ketchup obsession is because they’re one-fourth Canadian on my mom’s side, and Canada loves ketchup more than the U.S. (it’s true … look it up). Eggs? Check. Ranch with your grapes? No, ketchup please. Making quesadillas? Gotta smear that ketchup! Breakfast bagel sandwiches with cream cheese (the ones I’m so good at making…). Where’s the ketchup, Dad? Sometimes my kids gag when I try to make them eat new kinds of food. I give them a pass because sometimes I gag when I have to spread ketchup on their cream cheese … and I really love ketchup — when it’s on fries, with malt vinegar, and on deep-fried fish covered in beautiful batter. But if all my kids ate was ketchup, and all I ate was fish and chips, well, that wouldn’t work out so well for any of us. I mean it would be delicious, but we’d be severely malnourished.
You see, around the world, malnutrition can be the result of hunger, but it can also come from something else. You need a variety of food, and the right kinds of food. That’s why World Vision does more than run emergency malnutrition clinics and therapeutic feeding centers. They go beyond — teaching parents about proper nutrition and equipping families to grow a variety of crops. It’s giving good food for today and well into tomorrow.
This year, don’t give anyone the gift of ketchup (especially my children; they can get that themselves). Instead, give kids the food they really need. Better yet? Thanks to grant funds, your gifts will multiply four times in impact!
Give to child health and nutrition.
5. A “get out of the hospital free” card
Simple medicine helped prevent open-heart surgery for my daughter.
My daughter was born with several holes in her heart. At two weeks, the prognosis was open-heart surgery once she was old enough to handle it. We were scared, and we prayed a lot and waited. In the meantime, her weight was plummeting and her liver was enlarging, both early signs of congestive heart failure. To counteract the weight loss, her doctor had us up her formula ratio, which led to very fun diapers. To help her liver go back to its normal size, he prescribed simple water pills (diuretics) which made her flush more fluids out of her system.
People asked us all the time, does your daughter need special care? Do you need to do this or that? And I was always amazed, and they were too, that it was just these two simple things that were improving her health. She ended up gaining back her weight by six months, and her heart closed all but one of the holes by 22 months (we just found this out a few weeks ago), and that last hole is small enough and in a place where she won’t ever need a procedure. Fun fact: Her name is Sloane, which in two different translations means “warrior” or “fighter.” This was unintentional at the time; we just really liked the name. But God knew what was up.
And we are so grateful to God for her health and for the access we had to the simple medicine we needed. That’s why I absolutely love this gift and saved it for last. You can help kids around the world get access to medicine that can save their lives. Your gift will multiply five times in impact to help ship and distribute pharmaceuticals and medical supplies like antibiotics, antifungal medications, anti-parasitic drugs, deworming treatments, painkillers, and surgical supplies. All simple solutions that work huge miracles.
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Read our 2017 edition of “Christmas gifts that may surprise you” … including goat poop!