Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Encouraging Contentment Over the Holidays

The Christmas season is a beautiful time. It is a time of giving, imagination, and excitement. However, the holidays can also bring out some of the worst in our children as well as ourselves. If we are not careful it can be a time of “Give me!” and “Get that!,” rather than the very special time its meant to be. In fact, I always think of the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” at this time of year. I think of the little girl who insists on having everything- whenever or however she wants it. The lesson in the movie is clear, that attitude can only hurt you. It especially important to encourage contentment to our kids during the Christmas season.

It can be a difficult but an important lesson for a child to learn that you can’t always get everything you want. As adults we know this all too well, what a gift we can give our children by helping them to learn contentment at a young age! Allowing your kids time to understand this and learn how to find joy and pleasure in other things will give them an edge in life. Wouldn’t it be great if we raised a generation who finds happiness in serving others? What if every child saw Christmas as a time to give rather than receive? How much sweeter would the season be?

As parents it is easy to get caught up in the event. Shopping, wrapping, Santa Claus;  it all adds to craziness. However the best way to teach our children contentment it to live by example. Practically speaking it means behaving and speaking like “gifts” are the not the most important thing about the holiday season. Creating and sticking to a holiday budget is a fabulous way to set boundaries to the spending and make the season more about the event. If your children realize in advance that there are limits set, they will be less likely to disappointed in a smaller Christmas.  In fact, they may  appreciate it more!

Encouraging your children to go along with this foreign thought about the holiday season is not as hard as it may seem. There are so many  great ways to make the season about others. I’ve collected a few things that are easy and  friendly to nearly all aged children. 

  • Random Acts of Kindness. You can join a group on Facebook or do it on your own. The whole point is to nice things for others everyday in December.
  • The Angel Tree- Next time you are at the mall pick up an angel for your entire family to adopt. Make it an event and go out and shop for the child. Making another  local child’s Christmas will be an unforgettable experience for the kiddos.
  • Operation Christmas Child- Doing something similar to The Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child goes to giving Christmas to kids around the world who may have never had on before! This option is more affordable because you only have to fill up a shoe box. Many local churches are drop off points for these gifts.
  • Retirement and Nursing Homes- Bringing a little joy to people who may  otherwise be alone during the holiday season can open up your children’s eyes to how wonderful it is to spend the season with family. Whether you go to sing, bring cookies, or just chat awhile, it will be a heartwarming event for everyone.
  • Food Pantries- Not every family will have a big Christmas this year. In fact, many don't even have enough food. Donating to a local food pantry could ensure a much merrier holiday for a family in need.
  • Letting Go- Letting go of the old is a refreshing way to teach contentment and  clear the clutter from your home. Before Christmas, give each child a box and ask them to fill it with clothing they no longer wear and toys they no longer use. This activity will allow your children time to realize how blessed they really are. Once they all have full boxes, donate the items appropriately.
  • Work to Shop- Don’t just buy your child’s gifts for others this year. Make them work for it! Allow them to do chores and earn the required money to purchase the gifts they wish to buy. Not only does this teach responsibility, it also teaching budgeting!

Last but not least, make the season about more than gifts. Make a point to spend time with the family. Start new traditions and make the season count! Christmas comes only once a year, but the lesson of contentment follows a child through life!