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THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Acts of kindness

Rhonda Blackman

THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Acts of kindness

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It is the Christmas season – the time for giving, families and love. It is the time of year when some persons wish that something is placed in their “stocking” and others go around bringing joy and cheer to others.
It is a good feeling inside when one receives a gift; it shows that the other person has thought of you. Furthermore, if the gift meets a need, it makes the gift more valuable. That is the spirit of the holiday – giving and making others feel good.
In the last few days I received numerous telephone calls from persons asking what I am giving to them for Christmas. Believe me, some persons were presumptuous and proceeded to identify some of the gifts they wanted. Some of these gifts included television sets, handbags, jewellery, money, food items and clothing. These requests left me aghast and with many questions. Are our priorities in the correct places? Could I have been mistaken for Santa Claus?
I began to query what kind of society we have developed. It appears that we are living in a “gimme, gimme world”. A world where a vast majority of persons are takers, looking to see what they can get from you instead of how they can give.
In light of the global recession – the economy being hard-pressed, people getting laid off from work, persons having to “stretch” their dollar – it will be difficult for some to have Christmas joy. Some families would find it difficult to put meals on their tables furthermore have a Christmas dinner. This is the time to search deep in our hearts and give to such persons. It is important to note that once the gift is given from the heart, there will be no need to have a public showing.
This is also the time to “cut and contrive”. The time to spend your money wisely. Look past the many attractions that present themselves that are not necessary but might be considered as a  luxury. 
It is time for parents to teach their children the value of sharing and giving. The importance of thinking of others. This might be a challenge for some parents to teach children the value of giving in a season when they are surrounded by messages about the value of getting.
It is important that children are taught that giving is not about toys, things or possessions but about being able to perform a selfless act of kindness, not looking to reciprocate. It must be reinforced that it does not become a gift when one expects gratitude, appreciation or returns.
Allow your children to make sacrifices. A small sacrifice on the part of children will reinforce a lesson on giving more than anything else. It helps to build their self-esteem and gives them a sense of pride.
Parents can lead by example. give and allow your children to emulate your acts of kindness.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, national development scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.