Better to Give than to Receive?
Giving and receiving at Christmas
by Helen Bryant
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To consider that Christmas isn’t only about receiving.
Preparation and materials
- Pictures of people opening presents on Christmas Day.
1. I wonder how many of you have already made your Christmas lists. Does anyone want to share what they've asked for?
Listen to a range of responses. You may want to share some of the things on your own list!
2. Express that all the ideas sound wonderful and that you hope that on Christmas Day none of the pupils are disappointed! Ask them to think back to a Christmas when maybe they didn't get what they had expected or maybe they already knew what you were getting, so there was no surprise. If possible, share one of your own experiences and ask a few of the pupils to share theirs.
3. How did it feel? Were you disappointed? Did you even consider why you might not have received what you asked for? It may have been that your parents couldn't get the exact thing that you wanted; maybe they had tried hard but the toy/object simply wasn’t available. Maybe they simply didn't have enough money to buy what you'd asked for? Or maybe they simply hadn't realised that you desperately wanted that specific thing!
4. I wonder if you've ever given someone a present and received a disappointing reaction. How did that feel? Maybe you had taken a long time to choose the present. Possibly you had saved up to be able to afford it and spent a lot of money! Maybe you had thought carefully about what to buy and you were certain that you had made a good choice. However, instead of joy, you were greeted with disappointment.
If possible give an example from your own experience.
Such a situation can be uncomfortable and can hurt the person who has given the gift. Let’s remember that behind every gift is a thought and a person who has taken the time to give something to us.
5. However, there is also another side to gift giving. When you give a present and in return you see a face light up in surprise, or excitement - there is no better feeling. To know that you have given someone you care about such joy and happiness is wonderful.
6. The gift, of course, doesn't always have to be a large one. Sometimes the smallest of presents or even something you have made yourself could be just as well received, or even more so. Have you ever made card for a parent or made a present for someone by yourself? A small gift with meaning and sentiment behind it might just be the thing that really touches another person. Sometimes it is better to give than to receive.
7. To give something and not to count the cost is an important idea. It might even be that the gift is your time. Sitting with an elderly relative and talking may not feel like ‘gift giving’, but it could be just that, as they may not have spoken to anyone that day. A chat could be the only gift that they really want! Sitting down and telling your mum and dad about your day isn't a gift that has any monetary value, but I suspect they would appreciate the effort and time you have taken. Spending half an hour playing a game with younger siblings may mean more to them than buying them a packet of sweets (although that probably wouldn't be a bad thing either!).
Giving something of yourself to someone can speak volumes. A hug, a touch of the hand or even a smile or simple thank you are all things that we can give that don't cost us anything.
8. So, this Christmas, let’s think about the gifts that we can give to others rather than how much we can get for ourselves. Let’s look to experience the joy of giving.
Time for reflection
What could we give to others that costs no money but would mean a great deal to those who receive it?
At Christmas we remember the gift that you gave to the world: the gift of Jesus.
Please help us to learn that it is better to give than to receive.
Please help us to enjoy giving this Christmas, whether this is presents, time, kindness or love.