During the interview, Oprah asked Maria Shriver how her parents had managed to raise children who are so dedicated to giving back when they came from a family that had so much. Shriver told the story that once a week her mother would come to the dinner table with a piggy bank and a box of cereal. She would explain to the family how much they typically spent on dinner, and how much they were saving by eating cereal. Then she put that amount in the piggy bank and every so often the money from the piggy bank went to a special charitable cause.
I remember being blown away by this at the time and it still blows me away today. Their family had enough money to give and give and give without ever sacrificing anything (Eunice was a Kennedy). And it should be noted that the Shrivers did give and give and give. But I think the Shrivers gave their children a great gift by illustrating the importance of sacrificing something and making a choice to give intentionally. Maria Shriver still has the ability to give financially without sacrificing anything, but she does more than just write checks. She gives very generously of her time and her talents. What an amazing legacy!
I don't know if my kids would really consider it a sacrifice to eat cereal for dinner (we've had cereal for dinner before without any sort of philanthropic motivation and you would have thought Christmas came early at my house), but it still illustrates the point about making choices and being intentional about giving. And maybe it would even show them that the choice doesn't always have to be hard. In the interest of keeping it real, as I have pledged to do here, I'm not really sure that feeding my crew cereal for dinner would end up costing less than a regular dinner. I have five kids and they REALLY like cereal. But if it means that I get to "cook" cereal one night a week and teach my kids an important lesson about giving, can I be forgiven for a little white lie?
This concept has made me think of a couple of other switcheroos we can pull as a family to put money in a giving bank.
- We order pizza pretty regularly on Friday nights. What if sometimes we got frozen pizzas or grocery store take & bakes instead? Or what if sometimes we had cereal night on pizza night? Cereal would definitely be cheaper than pizza delivery and that could put some green in the bank.
- Sometimes we order movies On Demand. What if sometimes we switched family movie night into a family game night? We still get family time together, but we would save a little to put in our piggy.
Just a couple of silly ideas. Even small things make a difference when they add up over time. Do you have any switcheroos you could pull at your house?