By: Debbie Milam
If you’re like so many of us, the holidays have become way too commercial for you. As adults, we’re often so overwhelmed by life that this time of year feels so empty. This year by making some simple changes you and your children can truly make the holidays more meaningful.
Teach gratitude during the holidays
Gratitude should not only be for the material presents but for the little blessings in their lives. Begin to have your children tell you each day three things that they are grateful for. This helps children understand the true meaning of the holidays in several ways. First, the children begin to notice the little gifts that they sometimes take for granted, a butterfly, a sunny day, getting to sleep late. Secondly, once they notice these little gifts and are grateful for them they can start bringing more of them into their awareness.
Empower your family with tools to make the holidays more meaningful
Spend time discussing topics like what are you the most grateful for? How can you make the world a better place? How can this holiday be more meaningful? What presents make you feel the best? Plan a kind deed day and see who can perform the most random acts of kindness. Write little spiritual notes and leave them in their lunch boxes.
Give gifts from the heart
Write a story, a letter or a poem for your children. If you are artistic paint a picture for them. Put a photo album or scrapbook together. Record on audiotape your favorite family memories. Make a book of all the reasons you are grateful to have your loved ones in your life. Share a favorite childhood treasure that you saved, like a coin or a doll from your favorite collection. Finally, purchase gifts from charities that donate back to community.
Learn and then teach the spiritual meaning behind each faiths traditions
Share with your children that the candles are lit on Hanukah to symbolize the light of the Creator in our lives. Explain that a wreath is a symbol of the eternal circle of life. Describe how the presents for Kwanzaa represent the deep connection between parents and children. Illustrate how the sun’s return and warmth are celebrated during the Winter Solstice. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice share the beautiful miracles within each faith and then have your children share some of the miracles in their own lives.
Attend a worship service with a friend or a family member of another faith. This exposes children to the marvelous ways we are more similar than different. For it is only when we embrace the differences, that we can truly come together in unity.
Make community service and helping those less fortunate part of your family holiday activities
There are so many wonderful lessons when we give of ourselves to others. Have your children start or participate in a toy, clothing, or food drive for those less fortunate. By participating in charitable acts your children can learn that they can make a difference in the life of another, that they have a purpose, and that they can be part of the solution.
Slow down enough to enjoy the essence of your children and of the holidays
Our children remember the time and the energy shared as a family not the gifts, the parties or how perfectly the house is decorated. Say no to commitments that are not going to serve the greater good of your family. As Kabril Gibran so eloquently said in The Prophet, “Our children are but ours for such a short time.” Make this short time a time of wonder and reverence for your children to discover the true meaning of the holidays.