Encouraging your Geek Kid to Give Santa a Hand

Photo: Judy Berna

I am sure we are not the only family who used to dread all the new toys that would flow into our house in the holiday season. Sure, it’s fun to see their little faces light up when they see that perfect toy, the one they’ve been dying to have for months (or at least as long as it’s been aggressively marketed on Nickelodeon). But as the mom, the weeks that unfolded after the big bags of crumpled gift wrap were taken away by the overworked trash guys, were all about finding room for all those new treasures. Inevitably I’d end up with large boxes full of toys to donate to the Goodwill, or similar local thrift stores (honestly, that I’d snuck out of my kids’ rooms when they weren’t home, so we could avoid the tears and cries of “But I LOVE that toy!”).

Then, a bit too late to help me, since my GeekKids are now teenagers and prefer money and electronics (in small boxes), an adorable little GeekFriend of mine told me about his amazing idea for the holiday conundrum. A few years ago, when he was just a preschooler, Gregory figured that since Santa was all about toys, maybe he could help the portly guy out, and donate a few of his own used-to-be treasures.

He went through his room in the days before Christmas, and found some toys he used to love, but that were not on his favorites list anymore. He cleaned them up, and carefully placed them under the tree. And sure enough, when Santa came a few nights later, his donated toys were ‘gone’, and in their place was a small stack of new treasures that closely resembled the list he’d mailed to Santa.

Photo: Judy Berna

I wish my friend Gregory was around when I had too many boxes of toys that filled up the back of my van on the way to the thrift store. I thought his idea was genius. Instead of *me* being the one who decided which toys to “give other children,” my own children should have been the ones deciding. It would have been a great lesson in giving back, but also in keeping their collections streamlined, and parting with things they used to like, but were no longer used.

In the season when kids can all too quickly get caught up in the “What do I want?” mentality, taking some time to be generous can make them think “What would another child want, that I could provide?” It’s a very real way for kids to offer charity and feel a touch of sacrifice for someone else.

So if you still do the Santa thing (or even the gift thing for Hanukkah), and your house is way too full of toys from past holidays and birthdays, maybe you should take some advice from my friend Gregory. I’m sure if I called his mom today, she’d tell me he’s going through his room right now, deciding which treasured toys he’ll give to Santa this year. And “Santa” will be thankful for each and every one of them.

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