An Ethical Christmas: Helping Kids Embrace Culture and Make a Difference
Ethical spending may not be the first thing on your mind as we head into the holiday season.
Afterall, the in-laws are about to arrive and you were just volun-told that you're in charge of cooking the turkey this year, but I'd like to make a case for why it should be. Our dollars count for more than our words these days, and with little ones watching, it's important to set a good example.
Having children really forces you to think through everything that you do. I want to be able to justify all of the traditions that our family does or doesn't do when my five year old asks me about them. I love that she's curious, and I want to give her reflective responses in return. So, I've worked through my opinions on the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Halloween, but so much about what we do at Christmas has not been very deliberate in the past.
Our family celebrates the love of God, shown in the giving of His own Son as a Redeemer at Christmas. I want the birth of Christ to be central in all that we do, while still having lots of seasonal, family fun! For us, one way we accomplish this is to scale back the mountain of presents, and make sure that the ones we choose to buy are thoughtful.
A friend recently introduced me to a company called Noonday. International business and the alleviation of extreme poverty has always fascinated me, so this company immediately grabbed my attention. They work with third world artisans to bring their products to the US where they're sold at home and trunk shows. All of the items are made through fair trade practices, meaning the workers are paid a fair wage and he/she is then able to help jumpstart the economy in his/her own village.
When I researched the company, I found their business practices to be ethical and their products extremely fashionable! Because of the impact my dollar has with them, and because I know the recipients will love their merchandise, several of my relatives will be receiving Noonday products this year!
I wanted to teach my kids more about the idea of an ethical Christmas, and in my world a craft is always a prefered method! So, we researched how to make paper bead necklaces like the ones sold by Noonday. They turned out beautifully, pretty enough that the kids plan on giving them to their friends. Be sure to check out my post on how to make a paper bead necklace with your kids or for yourself!
Because of the success of the paper bead craft, I've been looking into ways to expand the lesson for my kids. As an adult I have been reading More Than Good Intentions, by Dean Karlan and The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier, both of which are very insightful, but I wanted to find books with a similar bent for my kids. We were able to check out Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier, One Hen: How a Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, and Amarando and the Blue School Tarp by Edith Hope Fine from the local library.
I really enjoyed the direction this lesson went. We were able to talk about the realities of our broken world, and process through tough questions like poverty. We researched the problem and some solutions together through reading books and getting involved making the necklaces, and now, the next step is for us is to do something to help!
This year we've chosen to have a smaller Christmas in order to be able to donate to Heifer International, an organization that gives seeds and animals to third world villagers in order to promote sustainable farming and alleviate poverty. As you begin making your holiday plans, I encourage you to consider engaging with this tough subject matter and taking action within your own family too!