Whether you have a strong religious tradition or not, Christmas should be about sharing and showing others you care. But this is difficult to teach small children in a world where everything seems based on what you have, not what you do. How can you help your children remember the true meaning of Christmas?
This time of year, it is very difficult to keep kids from getting the wrong message about the holidays. With all the crazy sales, stores offering a million discounts earlier and earlier, and television commercials advertising the many possessions every child should have, it’s almost impossible to keep plain old unfettered materialism from taking over the holiday.
Try some of these simple tips to make Christmas a holiday kids will remember.
- Let the children help you buy presents for their young relatives or friends. You don’t have to buy expensive gifts. Go to the dollar store and buy bubbles or packages of crayons.
- Have your kids wrap the gifts. Wrapping gifts for other people gives them a chance to be creative while keeping in mind that they’re not the only ones who will get gifts.
- Let them make their own wrapping paper. A roll of white or brown paper, a set of watercolor paints, and you’re set. If you want to get really creative, let them use rolls of ribbon to put around the presents. You won’t believe the bows they’ll come up with.
- Don’t criticize their efforts. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Let kids donate to various charities. If you’re buying a present for Toys for Tots or some other worthwhile organization, let them literally put the toy in the box.
- If you donate to the Salvation Army, let the kids put the coins in the kettle. This is a good opportunity to explain to them that not everyone has the same opportunities as they do, and remind them that it’s always nice to give whenever they can.
- Let them help decorate the tree. Put the breakable or treasured ornaments up high, and the unbreakable, expendable decorations, such as bows or plastic ornaments, down low. That way you won’t have to worry about accidents to your treasured keepsakes. Or, if you have small children, lower your stress level and keep the valuables in storage until they’re older.
- Let kids help with the holiday meal. Maybe you don’t have time to make homemade holiday cookies, but you can let the kids take those store-bought cookies and lay them out on a decorative plate. Have them put out cheese slices and crackers on a tray, and leave the organization to their own devices. Resist the urge to correct or organize better. The kids will feel like they’ve contributed an integral part to the celebration.
- · When you gather with family, don’t use this opportunity to rehash old grudges. Someday, your kids will look back on these gatherings as important and precious memories. Don’t ruin it by bringing up the time Grandma forgot to give you a gift or Aunt Betty bought you a shirt that was too small.
Remember, as so many have said, it’s not what’s under the tree that counts – it’s the people around it. Change the focus of your Christmas from one of receiving to one of giving, and you will set an example for your children that will last a lifetime.