My two-year-old daughter and I drove out to Shelmerdines last weekend and picked out a Christmas tree. Our first father-daughter Christmas tradition. This weekend I'm hoping to introduce her to another.
I want Christmas to be fun for her and to say I won't spoil her would be a lie. But I'd like to give her a little more than just a doll house or the Hello Kitty bag she's been telling me about for a few weeks now.
I'd like to teach her about helping others. Not that I know much about it myself. I'm as self-centred as the next person and my Christmas will still be about our family and the food and gifts we share.
But sitting down to write this column at the behest of my boss, I did a little bit of soul searching. Again it was for selfish reasons but the result is what matters.
What was I going to do? Write a column about the great bottle of wine I was hoping to enjoy on Christmas Eve? The ridiculous present I hope my family bought for me? Obviously not.
Life is about learning and while I've been pretty wrapped up in myself for the first 40 years or so, fatherhood has opened some new doors for me. I'm no longer just living for myself and the pursuit of my own pleasure.
That little person eating and sleeping and growing in my house is my responsibility. Not just for food and shelter but for nourishment of the soul as well.
So while I will likely pass on to her my taste for certain luxuries, I've been thinking about showing her about charity and volunteerism. She's a little young now but down the road I'd like to take her to a soup kitchen or a shelter for a day. I've done it once. I need to do it more. And if I really want to claim to be a good father, I need to put forth a giving example and not just pass on consumer products poorly disguised as love.
The concept of giving is clear to her. She knows what a present is and that she's getting some on Christmas Day.
This weekend my plan is to explain to her as best I can that some kids aren't as lucky as she is and won't be getting a gift. Then I want her to help me pick out a toy and we'll drop it off unwrapped to one of the charities that distributes gifts to the less fortunate.
We'll also make a donation to the Spirit of Christmas campaign to help the people at the Cheer Board get out hampers and help feed families over the holiday.
It's funny, I started out being a father thinking of what I could teach my daughter. But it turns out she's teaching me just as much.
This lesson, to try and make Christmas a little more about others and a little less about what's under our tree, is a great one.
Thanks, little girl.
Please send your donations to The Spirit of Christmas, c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, R2X 3B6. Here are this week's contributers:
Merrill & Lynda Wozniak$50.00
Merrill & Lynda Wozniak$50.00
Manitoba Lacrosse Alumni Assoc.$100.00
Gary & Lynn Rockman$50.00
Mrs. W. Fleming$100.00
Walter & Melba Kruschel$200.00
In memory of Georgina Senebald$50.00
Mr. & Mrs. J. Wayne LeBlanc$50.00
In memory of Mom & Pop, Daisy & Jack Moran$100.00
In memory of Janet & Jack Livingstone$100.00
In memory of Ron & Edie Zimmerman$100.00
In memory of Bob & Joan Caswill$50.00
Maurice H. Tryhuk$300.00
In memory of John Anderson$60.00
Paul & Shirley Lindsay$55.00
Renee Bernardin Kern$200.00
In memory of Grant Anderson$25.00
Marilyn & Bob Forcand$100.00
James P. Harris$60.00
Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Webster$100.00
"LS" & Helen Hamende$50.00
In memory of John C.D. &$30.00
Mary E. Thomas
In memory of Todd Fraser$100.00
In memory of Mike O'Hara$100.00
In memory of Angus A. MacLeod,$400.00
In memory of Walter & Jeanne Penno
In memory of Ron Cubine,
Connie & John Clubine, Peggy & Arnold Geith $500.00
In Memory of Susan & Neil Dyck, Dan Middleton,
Marge Smith & Garth Burns$500.00
Employees of Salisbury House$1,000.00
In memory of Serafine &George Ternette, Ernest Smith & Marjorie Smith $50.00
In memory of Clifford & Lois Burgess$50.00
In memory of Olive Barnard &Stanley Hornby$50.00
In memory of Fred Anderson$100.00
Seniors Melody Group - General$100.00
Country Villas Blvd.$88.75
East St. Paul
Anonymous (five donations)$1,150.00
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @garylawless