Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Giving isn't an easy concept for young children to learn. The holiday season offers many opportunities to teach children that giving is better than receiving. One hands-on way children can participate in charitable giving is by packing a shoe box full of goodies for Operation Christmas Child. This Christian charity helps deliver shoe boxes to youngsters in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. According to their website, the mission of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is "to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and the together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ." The week of November 16-23, 2009 is National Collection Week. There are many drop-off locations around the country.
This year VeggieTales has partnered with OCC in their DVD release, VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving. The new DVD teaches about the importance of giving by telling the story of Saint Nicholas, VeggieTales style. It even stars a new vegetable, Nicky the Pepper, as Saint Nicholas.
The movie begins with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber preparing for Christmas. Bob tells the Veggie kids the true story of Santa Claus and how this story relates to the baby Jesus. Reading out of a book, he recounts the story, starting with Nicholas' childhood in Greece (a "grimy sounding country that was fairly clean") during the 3rd century. Young Nicholas' father and mother were very religious, had much wealth and often helped those less fortunate. While Nicholas was still young his parents died in an epidemic, leaving him a large inheritance.
In this VeggieTales version of the story, Nicholas' servant, Octavious (Mr. Lunt), tries to help but Nicholas leaves Greece searching for happiness. He comes to the Holy Land and there meets Sister Claire (Petunia). She tells him that, "I can love because God loved me. I can give because God gave. Jesus' love is why I'm smiling - Why I'm giving every day." Inspired by this message he returns to Greece and finds it changed. An evil man named Gustav is now mayor and has outlawed giving. After reading Matthew 6:3, Nicholas decides to help people in secret. Disguising himself, he continues his parents' legacy of giving and encourages others to give. After hearing the story of St. Nicholas, the Veggie children and townspeople decide to help out a local family in need.
Like all VeggieTales stories, this DVD has several funny, witty moments (the fish on sticks/fishsticks made me laugh), and the show even offers a hilarious explanation for the origin behind the flying sleigh and reindeer. The small town scenery is much like Thomas Kinkade's paintings, full of light and Christmas happiness. The beginning song titled "Hope It's Gonna be a Happy Christmas" perfectly sets a cheerful stage. The theme song, "I Can Love" tells the reason behind St. Nick's giving spirit. My preschool daughter found the part of the movie where Nicholas' parents died slightly troubling, but loved the rest of the movie, especially the silly chase scene towards the end. I recommend this movie to all Christian families. VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas offers a fun way to tell children the story behind Santa Claus and also inspires children to give to others cheerfully, as recipients of God's love and grace.
As a bonus, the DVD features a special song, "Give This Christmas Away," by Matthew West with Amy Grant that helps promote the worthy cause, Operation Christmas Child. It's a wonderful song to share with your family this Christmas season. I had never heard of OCC, but, thanks to VeggieTales, I'm hoping to pack a shoebox for this cause with my children this year.
Watch the Donuts for Benny - Helpful Humanitarian Songs (Silly Song)
Samaritans Purse - Operation Christmas Child Website
VeggieTales Joyful Giving Guide for Parents [pdf]
(FREE Consumer DVD Gift with Purchase Offer
Through an offer inside the DVD, consumers who purchase the Saint Nicholas DVD will receive a FREE VeggieTales DVD to give to a friend. After purchase, log onto a special website and select a free VeggieTales DVD for only $2.99 shipping and handling.)
This post was written for Family Review Network as part of a program for Big Idea and VeggieTales, who supplied the DVD for review. I was not compensated in any way except for the complimentary product. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)