Spreading Holiday Cheer with Your Kids, While Teaching Them about Gratitude
This is my favorite time of year! The moment November 1st rolls around, I am in full holiday mode. I love all the decorations, the holiday parties, the family get togethers, ALL the food, and I especially love watching the magic of the holidays through my daughters eyes.
Although this time of year is so happy and enjoyable for most, it isn’t always filled with joy for others. Whether they have lost loved ones, are far away from family, financially struggling or even just have negative feelings because of past trauma during the holidays, this can be a hard time of year.
As a young child, my parents taught me about gratitude and how to give back to others all year long, but especially during the holidays. We would provide meals to families who weren’t able to afford elaborate Thanksgiving feasts. We would buy presents for families who financially wouldn’t be able to. We would go visit and bring cards to senior citizens who had no family around. These are some of my fondest memories from the holidays as a child, because I am a through and through empath, and so seeing joy on other peoples faces deeply impacted me.
Once I had kids of my own, I knew I would want to carry on the attitude of gratitude and teach them about helping others. We have kept up a lot of the traditional ways of giving back during the holidays, but have also created some new traditions of our own.
Here is a list of the things my girls love doing the most, and I hope it will encourage other families to incorporate some of them this holiday season.
A few years ago we started the tradition of being “Santa’s little helpers” and doing little good deeds all over our town throughout December. Some examples are:
- My girls have started carrying coin purses around with them and if we are out and about and see a parking meter about to expire, they will put some change in. If we get something from a vending machine, we tape some change to it with a note saying “this one is on us.”
- Of course the pay it forward at your local coffee shop is an easy one. All you have to do is pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the drive thru, and hope they pay it forward.
- We fill plastic ziploc bags with a few dollars each and put a note in it that says “use this to buy something you need, Happy Holidays,” and we place them randomly around the dollar store.
Visiting senior/nursing homes is a super easy activity to do as a family. Although most aren’t allowing visitors inside the building at this time, you can visit through the windows. My girls make cards and we get a group of friends together. When we deliver the cards, the staff opens up the windows and the kids then sing Christmas carols to them though the windows. Seeing the smiling faces is so beautiful. If the center will allow it, we also write loving messages on the sidewalk outside for the residents to see.
This year we decided to make goodie boxes for our delivery men and woman, as well as our trash collectors. My girls decorated boxes with kind messages and notes, and filled them with drinks and snacks for them to take on their routes.
Most of the ways we bring joy to others during this holiday season is local to our town, but one way we help others internationally is by doing the Operation Christmas Child shoe box project. My girls really enjoy this, because it allows them to let their personality shine through. The girls get to pack a shoebox full of toys, hygiene products and school supplies for a girl around the same age as them, who lives somewhere across the world. Here is a link the website for more information of where the collection centers are: Samaritan's Purse.
With all the the activities and parties going on during the holidays, it can be easy to forget to take a step back and be grateful for all of it. I am definitely guilty of too much “go, go, go”, but it is nice to slow down and appreciate all that we have. Being examples of good humans to our children, through our actions is so important. I hope this list will give some ideas about how to raise our children to take care of others, as we hope others take care of our children.