A New Hanukkah Tradition of Giving

This year we did something different for Hanukkah. Inspired by a comment one of my twin four-year-old daughters that she likes birthdays “because of the gifts,” my wise husband suggested that we start a new Hanukkah ritual of giving, instead of receiving.

In order to prepare them for the new tradition, I let my daughters know in advance that our first night (tonight) would be about helping others and that each of them would have an important job to do. They were both really excited.

After we lit the candles, I gave each of them three pieces of paper that listed a charity and showed an image having to do with that organization (they each got the same three charities to chose from in order to avoid fighting). I choose charities that had to do with animals, babies and young children because those are topics that interest both of my girls. I let them know they each had $10 to give to the charity of their choice and explained to them how each charity would most likely use that money to help their cause and let them pick for themselves.

When faced between choosing The March of Dimes, Farm Sanctuary, and Half the Sky Quincy and Mendez had a tough time deciding. At first both girls seemed set on Farm Sanctuary. I have to admit that picture of those cute rescued pigs were very persuasive. But in the end they chose to help Chinese orphans with Half the Sky. This wonderful organization provides nurture and stimulation programs for babies, innovative preschools that encourage an early love of learning, personalized learning opportunities for older children, and foster homes for children whose special needs will keep them from being adopted.

Then something interesting happened. Both my daughters asked if instead of getting presents in the second night of Hanukkah, they could give to another one of the charities. Perhaps we are onto something? I am really excited to help these wonderful organizations and to make this an annual tradition.

What kind of family traditions have you started to teach your children about giving to others?