As a child, many of the biggest and best memories are connected to special occasions – the birthday, Christmas, Hanukah, Halloween, the bar/bat mitzvah, Easter. And when we connect something to those occasions that are bigger than ourselves, the events take on a deeper meaning, a meaning that we never forget as we reflect upon those special moments and milestones throughout our lives.
The reality is, every special occasion brings along with it an opportunity to solidify a deeper connection to the special day by incorporating some act of kindness – large or small – that makes the tradition more meaningful. The younger we begin this and the more it becomes a part of our traditions and routines, the more indelible the imprint in the mind of a child.
Easter just came and went – a big deal in the Christian tradition. My sons’ teachers wanted to add an “extra something” to this Lenten season, so I found a nonprofit down the street that provides counseling and services to grieving children who have lost a significant someone in their lives and are having a difficult time processing that loss. The kids, the teachers and I decided that the symbolic Easter basket chock full of little surprises, along with homemade cards and bookmarks, would likely make any kid smile. And so a couple of weeks after our idea was conceived, 25 colorful and well-stocked Easter baskets were delivered. To quote the staff there: “What a treasured Friday for New Hope for Kids. Please let them (the students) know how special this is! The kids are going to love this! Thanks so much for this generous, thoughtful gift.”
But perhaps my favorite part was what the giving students had to say about this experience.
- “I learned that helping others feel better made me feel better.”
- “I learned that helping makes you happy…not getting, but giving.”
- “Making the Easter baskets made me feel like I was making part of their sadness go away because of the fun and joy that I brought to them.”
- “I learned that I can really help people, even as a 4th grader.”
- “I learned that other people don’t have as much as we do, and we don’t realize that.”
It didn’t take long to dream up this idea. It didn’t take a lot to execute. And in a matter of just a few hours, 75 kids had an experience woven together in a way none of them will forget for quite some time.