It seems that Christmas has been around us for months now in retail chains, but is it really around us, particularly our children? We as adults and our children get so accustomed to the commercialized aspect of Christmas that it’s important to take a step back and realize what the Christmas spirit really is.
My girls are 19 and 13 now, but we still carry on some of the same traditions that we did when they were little. While some things are different because my oldest is away at college, some are the same. We’ve had to learn to adapt to doing a few things differently, but we’re still creating traditions and invoking the Christmas spirit all the same. If you are a parent of young children, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to learn to grow and change as your children grow. Many times I yearn for those Christmas traditions that happened when they were young and I get emotional, but on the other hand, I am thankful for the memories and traditions we are creating as they are growing into young adults.
Being Catholic, the season leading up to Christmas, Advent, is very important to us and very much a part of our Christmas spirit. The four weeks leading up to Christmas begins with our family’s traditional Advent wreath. Have your children help with decorating the Advent wreath and placing the candles in it. Each night beginning December 1, we read a small book leading up to the birth of Jesus and light a candle on the Advent wreath. We all take turns reading each night. Thankfully, FaceTime allows us to continue this special nightly reading with Ashton while she’s at college.
Christmas music is another great way to get your kiddos in the spirit of the season. We have some old favorites, but we also enjoy listening to new Christmas music that may become an “old favorite”.
Leading up to Christmas we try to watch at least one Christmas movie a week. Sometimes the movies are comedies and sometimes they are real tear-jerkers. When all the Thanksgiving festivities are over, we settle down on Thanksgiving night to watch “Christmas Vacation.” It’s a silly tradition that we’ve kept for years.
Allow your children to be a part of the planning process. This serves two purposes: 1) It helps them to countdown the days leading up to Christmas, especially if you set particular dates for things to be done. For instance, mail all of the Christmas cards by December 1 or bake cookies for all of his/her teachers before Christmas break. 2) It teaches your children valuable lessons in learning to plan and time management to get tasks accomplished within a certain time frame.
Since my girls were little we have helped those in need. It’s something we have always done as a family and will continue to do. Even at a very young age, children understand that some aren’t as blessed as us and we need to help them. Check your local charities and see where help is needed. Decide as a family who you want to help, and then do it as a family. It doesn’t always have to be about buying gifts for someone, it can be volunteering at a soup kitchen or volunteering at a pet shelter. This certainly makes the Christmas spirit come alive in everyone!
In my opinion, one of the most important lessons we can teach our children from the time they are very small through adulthood is the value of traditions and continuing them from generation to generation. Traditions are where we can find the Christmas spirit year after year.