Ho-ho-ho and mistletoe! It’s the merriest time of the year – right? However, for busy parents, it’s awfully easy to get overwhelmed by the demands of the season, and overlook opportunities to help children make meaning of the “season of giving”. Take some time this holiday season to reflect on what you really want to instill in your children. Here are some tips for how to downplay consumerism and focus on creating lasting traditions:
Remember why we do this. Whether we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another winter celebration, we do so to remember that miracles happen. That even on the darkest nights of the year, we can light a candle and share the light. The rituals that we observe connect children to their family heritage, and create memories that stick with children for a lifetime.
Get everyone in the family involved in the celebration. Even very young children can be included in spreading holiday cheer. Go closets and donate items you haven’t used during the year and other items you don’t need. Have the children go through their toys and books to choose items to give away to others who are less fortunate.
Give in ways that matter. Children naturally want to give, so capitalize on the opportunity to teach about charitable giving. Choose a charity that you will support as a family. The amount you give is not important, but the act of giving teaches children empathy and caring. Let your children choose something that is important to them, or take a family vote!
Choose clutter-free gifts. Giving thoughtful gifts to remind folks how much we love them can be a beautiful part of the season. Children’s art, baked goods, a framed photo, or a recording of a favorite story, are meaningful gifts cherished by the recipient.
Clear the calendar for fun. Carve out some time for family togetherness and spend it making memories. This is the most valuable gift you can give one another. Whether baking and decorating cookies, making your own gift wrap, or snuggling in with popcorn and a stack of holiday movies, the important thing is that everyone is sharing the experience together and memories are being made.