On February 14th, the kids in religious education classes will be having a whole group lesson based on Reverend Sharon’s message to adults that day. The title of that service: Cultivating Enoughness.
Reverend Sharon and I like working together on a unified message—we plan working on doing this even more often in the future. For this particular Sunday it came up when I was doing some long-term planning for future class lessons and found a Tapestry of Faith lesson that happened to be called, “Enough Stuff” that would have fallen on February 14th. We just couldn’t ignore a coincidence like that! I decided to expand the lesson to include the entire group of kids.
One of the ideas of the lesson is the suggestion of having kids have a “No Presents” birthday party. This intrigues me to no end. I remember when my children were young and how many toys they had. I also remember that most of them lost what I would call their “play value” after a very short time. In fact, I used to routinely box up a significant number of them and rotate them. (It was amazing how much more fun a toy is when it hasn’t been seen every day.) I wish I had thought of holding No Present birthday parties for them when they were young.
Some variations on this idea:
Requesting non-perishable goods, pet-care items, or toys that can be personally donated by the guest of honor to those in need.
Ask for gender-neutral gifts and hold a White Elephant exchange among the guests
Hold a theme party for books
Hold a theme party for garden supplies and—if the time of year is right— ask guests to help plant seeds or seedlings they bring
Ask guests to donate what they would spend on a present to a college fund
There are many creative ideas out there. If this appeals to you, have an honest discussion with your child about whether this may be the right choice for their next birthday. Just having the discussion can be a great first step toward helping them be thankful for what s/he already has.
Special note: Reverend Bukey, our Minister of Congregational Life, is also collaborating with this congregational-wide lesson plan. We will be asking kids and adults to do two things that day. First, we are rounding up pet-care items to donate to the San Diego Humane Society. Their wish list can be found here: http://www.sdhumane.org/how-you-canhelp/ donate/donate-wish-list-items/. And, Elizabeth will be organizing making lunches for homeless folks (in partnership with ICS) after services that day. I hope you can participate in one or both of these activities— more details will come on both of them.
– Kathleen Swift,
Director of Family Life