The holiday season can be a tricky time for parents. It’s actually quite a bizarre time of year. We start with Halloween, when we teach our kids to knock on strangers’ doors and beg them for candy. Then, literally the next day, we switch gears on the poor dears. We start talking about the Thanksgiving holiday, and what it means to be grateful for the things that we have.
For a month, we teach our kids about family, about the First Thanksgiving and how elated the Pilgrims were with the harvest that native Americans taught them to prepare. Some families, beginning November first, begin to direct children toward listing one thing that they’re thankful for each night at the supper table.
Then, directly following Thanksgiving is Christmas for a lot of families. And what is Christmas to kids? Santa! Presents! Gifts! The television commercials begin to bombard your kids, and as a result you’ll hear the “I wants” and the “I needs” begin, too. Truthfully, it can get annoying. But it’s what the kids are taught – Christmas isn’t a time for family or for giving thanks. It’s a time for presents. If you want to get some ideas how to shop for kids and find the perfect Christmas gift please make sure to read my latest article about this topic here.
So how do you cultivate a better attitude in your kids? How do you keep them focused on the true meaning of Christmas – whatever that means to your family? I’m by no means a perfect parent, but I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned throughout the 11 Christmases I’ve survived.
Giving Thanks Isn’t Just for Thanksgiving
As I said, I’m not a perfect parent. I’ve got three kids, they’re aged 10, 8 and 2. They’re all in different stages of the Santa story; my ten year old is (too) quickly outgrowing it. My eight year old son is a firm believer in the magic of the North Pole. And my two year old daughter hasn’t quite experienced enough to even understand Christmas, or Santa.
When my two boys were younger, we’d begin out season on November first. We found a Charlie Brown type tree, and I cut out about a hundred leaves from construction paper. Every day, we’d each think of one thing we were thankful for. I’d write it on the leaves, then we’d pin it to the tree.
This was a Thanksgiving tradition for a couple of years, until I realized that I had it backwards. Right after Thanksgiving, my kids fell into the “gimme” trap associated with commercial Christmas, and I decided to change things up. Instead of beginning before Thanksgiving, why not begin on Thanksgiving?
The day after Thanksgiving, we go searching for our Christmas tree. Thanksgiving is the kickoff for our season of thanks, and each day leading up to Christmas we’ll do the same as we had before. We’ll write one thing that we’re thankful for on paper or an ornament, and hang it on the tree.
Keeping my kids mindful of the things they already have has helped to temper their tendencies to want everything they see on television. Of course, there’s still the occasional ad to catch their attention. But this does help; I get an idea of what they actually do want for Christmas, making shopping that much easier.
Giving to Others on Christmas
Way back when I was in college, I found that I had extra money to spend. Lucky me, right? I was living on student grants and scholarships, and of course I didn’t have kids. It was at that time that I was introduced to the Share Your Christmas program.
This program was (and still is) run by the Department of Social Service, and provides a wonderful opportunity for people to give gifts to those who can’t afford them. Many people are hesitant about giving financial gifts, as they’re never sure what that money will be spent on. The Share Your Christmas program matches volunteers up with a person or family, and provides that volunteer with a Christmas Wish List.
The gifts on the list range from emergency cell phones to simple items like sippy cups. The volunteer will purchase as many of the items on the list as she chooses, then can either deliver it to DSS or to the family directly.
You probably have a program like this in your area. Contact your DSS or local church organization for opportunities. Then, get the kids involved! Try to find a family who has kids the same age as your own, and use it as a learning opportunity. Not every child will be fortunate enough to receive super heroes and Pokemon for Christmas. Some kids just want a warm coat.
If you don’t have a program like this in your area, you can try something different. Tell your kids about these other children who are less fortunate. Then, with your help, your kids can sort through the items in their closet and toy box. Pull out each of the toys which are no longer being used, then commit to donating them to a thrift store.
The True Meaning of Christmas
For as many families as celebrate Christmas, there are reasons to celebrate. Some celebrate the birth of Jesus. Others celebrate the Yuletide, or the solstice. It doesn’t matter why you celebrate. You can still pass on the meaning of Christmas to your kids.
As a parent, you know that everything you do must be deliberate. The words you speak and the actions you choose will resonate with your kids, so you’ve got to be sure that they’re intentional. This is true even when it comes to celebrating the holidays.
Make Christmas a celebration of whatever you deem fitting for your family. Steer the conversation away from gifts, and opt instead to give them each just a few well-chosen presents. A race track set for your son, or a drone for your daughter. Don’t focus on how full the Christmas tree is. Instead, use your gifts to say, “I thought about you, and I know this will interest you. I love you, and that’s why this gift was chosen.”
Christmas can be very stressful, both for parents and for kids. It would seem that more and more, it’s all about the money you spend or the gifts you receive. But if you take the time now, you can raise your kids to understand that Christmas is about more than that. It’s a time to celebrate giving, thankfulness and family, and there’s no better time to impress that than while your kids are young.
However, you still might want to buy some presents for your kids or grandkids. Here is a little selection of cool toys that your little ones will absolutely love.
Kids all over the globe are loving the cool LED flashing cars that are running around the race tracks. Build your own race track within seconds and snap the pieces together easily. Recommended for kids from 3 years and even adults love to play with them. Easy storage solution included, as they can be rolled up. And with our Storage Play Mat you´re super safe.
Suited for bigger kids from 8 years that love to build, assemble and play together with their dads or granddads. This toy is perfectly suited to bring sons and daughters closer to you again and you will have hours and hours of fun flying them around through your home, office, the shopping mall or the museum. But take car – the shark might still bite…
One of the hottest toys of late 2017 and most likely the absolute hot trend for 2018. The interactive baby monkey grab your fingers, straws, pens, cups, glasses or everything that may lie or stand around. They do crazy things and need to be tugged and played with continuously. So much fun and super cute…
The best quadcopter for beginners and kids who want to learn how to fly a quadcopter drone. This ultra durable construction is almost invincible to crashes. Hit walls, trees, furniture or just crash it to the floor. Learning how to fly has never been this fun before.
This amazing toy enhances concentration, problem solving skills, hand-eye-coordination and is super fun to play with. Master all stages that require different strategies and skills. Who in your family can solve all stages faster?