Whether religious or secular, your family’s traditions are what make you unique – and they’re what your kids will remember most. But if you tried to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with the kids last year, and they lost interest around “three French hens,” it might be time to consider some new traditions. Don’t be afraid to break with the old – traditions you create yourself can be even stronger than traditional…traditions.
First, try getting rid of traditions that either aren’t fun or don’t make sense for your family. Write up a list of current holiday activities and ask all family members which activities should stay and which get the ax. Don’t forget to take your children’s opinions into consideration; they’ll be home on school vacation, and likely to overindulge on TV and cookies if they don’t have lots of fun activities to divert them. So give them diversions galore. The best are fun, inexpensive activities that involve the whole family. They can be as simple as a family board game – if it’s fun enough, the family will want to do it next year, too. Here are a few more ideas:
Ride around together on a neighborhood tour of lights and decorations – go by bike if the weather’s mild, by car if not. If your family likes to judge, make up some signs, 1-10 or A-F, to evaluate your neighbors’ festive displays. Will the Joneses beat the Smiths this year?
If your family is not particularly religious, but looking for a way to celebrate the holiday season, the winter solstice – December 22, the longest night of the year – is an opportunity for festivities. Cultures around the globe observe the solstice in different ways, but many celebrations involve giving thanks for light. Why not celebrate with a family game of flashlight tag?
Or, if you want to show some generosity as a family, give a present to someone who won’t be expecting one. Who should it be? The mail carrier? Arnie down at the town dump? That old woman with the cats? Whoever it is, make the gift meaningful. The same goes for your holiday traditions: only your family can decide what traditions are meaningful to them. And if you’re looking for meaningful gifts for the kids in your life, look no further than CookiesKids.com!
It’s the holiday season, a time when most people are in the giving spirit. Your children certainly feel the generosity, but it’s likely they’re on the receiving, rather than the giving, end. Isn’t it time they experienced the joy of giving, too?
Because there’s so much giving going on, the holiday season is the perfect time to teach kids virtues such as charity, generosity, and selflessness. As usual, the first step is setting a positive example yourself. Experts, like parenting specialist and psychotherapist Alyson Schafer, believe that parents who make charity a priority will have children who grow up with a similar attitude. Children will be even more likely to adopt a charitable attitude if you involve them in the process of giving, and allow them to choose charitable acts that mean something to them. Looking for some ideas?
Deliver some of your child’s used toys and clothes to a charitable organization like the Salvation Army or Goodwill – and make sure to take your child along on the trip. Explain to your child that while these items may be outmoded to them, they could be extremely valuable to those less fortunate.
Another idea is to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and even pet shelters. The holidays can be a lonely time for those who may not have family and friends that can visit. Spending time with the elderly and infirm, and even bringing gifts and treats along, will provide a much needed boost of holiday cheer.
If you feel you can afford it, providing a complete holiday dinner for a needy family can be a very meaningful act. Ask your children to help you come up with a shopping list, then seek a religious or community outreach organization to deliver the meal to a family in need. Non-profit organizations such as Feeding America and Ample Harvest aid hunger relief efforts through nationwide networks of food banks.
Finally, don’t forget to count the things for which you and your kids are thankful. Place emphasis on things other than material items, like family and friends. Not only will this activity give your child a sense of humility, it will reaffirm the generosity you’ve been teaching them, and inspire them to continue their charitable endeavors. In the words of author and motivational speaker Pervis Taylor III, “Giving is not a season or a moment, it is a lifestyle.”