I grew up in a religious family and went to parochial school from Kindergarten to Grade 12. One of the things I have taken away from that education, even though I am not religious, is that part of Christmas should naturally involve service to others. Being away from the church and any religious community for many years, I haven't gone out of my way to embrace that spirit. That is an important change I wanted to make this year.This year, we happened to come across a giving tree at the Granville Island Kids Market that was connected with a local women's shelter. It was the perfect set up for us. To make the experience valuable for Breccan, we tried to choose a child near his age. I let him pick out the toy. We talked about how we were buying the toy for another boy for Christmas because we wanted to make sure he had a fun gift to open at Christmas time. We talked about how lucky Breccan is to have a big family and lots of people who love him. We talked a little about how not everyone is so lucky.It is an important value for our family that my children acknowledge the privilege with which they were born. While I am not sure Breccan understood everything we talked about, I do believe that the earlier we have these conversations, the less troublesome and surprising they are later. It also is a time to practice the language we use so we feel less nervous when our kids are old enough to really absorb what we say!