Run! Run! Run!
That is what our holiday seasons have become!
Is this what we want to show our children about Christmas?
Or do we want to help them see just a little bit more?
How do we brush off some of our current ways and show our children what the season is truly about?
Here are some tips to help teach your child about the ultimate depths of the holiday spirit.
1. Scale Back!
It is fun to get into the excitement of Santa and presents and all of the other jolly-good cheer!
But sometimes we go a little overboard.
I think that you know what I am talking about.
Santa brings a lot of stuff.
So every year, it starts to become an expectation.
You and I both know that Santa cannot deliver 50 presents one year and then suddenly bring 3 the next.
That just isn’t going to fly.
And even if your gift-giving does not involve the jolly old man, too many gifts equal an expectation.
If we can scale back on the amount of gifts and the stress that goes into deciding and shopping on them, then we have room for something else.
We have more room to do more activities that are actually directly related to Christmas.
More time together relaxing.
As a family!
More time for snuggles, hot cocoa, listening to Christmas music and reading books.
Less holiday stress means more time to talk with your child and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
I know that that is hard to do because of extended family commitments and what not.
But do yourself and your family a favor and at least try.
Give it a Good Go!
Sit down and look at your calendar.
Think about what can be scratched off and canceled and what events are the most important.
If that means turning down a holiday dinner at someone’s house or bowing out of the last-minute shopping frenzy…
Then so be it!
Try to scale back on the number of presents that you buy and give.
Talk with your child ahead of time or other family members.
Explain that you are placing a limit on gifts (or Santa is) and find out what gifts are at the top of the list.
A limit of 3-5 gifts (but maybe some extra little surprises in their stockings) will make the gift-priority a little less valuable.
This way, there is more room to teach about ideas and traditions that are more important than that.
Scale back on the stress.
If you cut back on your calendar and gift hunting, then that will ultimately help with holiday stress.
What else is weighing on your shoulders?
See if you can try to give it the boot!
Christmas is supposed to be a peaceful time of year – not a bonkety-bonkers one!
(Yes, I believe I just invented the word “bonkety” (Ha! Ha!))
What You Teach Your Child
By doing this, you are showing your child that the holidays are not about the hussle and bustle.
It is not about the candy, the gifts, Santa and stress.
It is about family time.
Taking the time to rejuvenate and put loved ones at the top of the list.
That saying “no” to an invitation in order to snuggle and watch movies with loved ones is okay.
Modeling this way of holiday life will help your child find the deeper meaning of the season.
2. Read About Christmas
My mother had a very old Christmas book that was passed down to her.
I remember her reading stories out of that special book one year.
My mother was never into spending much time with my sister and I.
She always had other things that were more important to do.
But I will never forget the one year that she sat and read that book to us.
For a few nights in a row, she would read us one story from that book.
That time with her and listening to her voice made Christmas that year so special.
I don’t remember what presents I got, but I sure do remember my mother reading to us.
Pick Up That Book!
There are hundreds of Christmas stories out there!
Some are light and fun!
Some really tell the tale about the true meaning of Christmas.
Grab a few and snuggle up with your loved ones.
Every night, read a book.
We really tend to underestimate the power of reading.
The knowledge that it actually gives to our children goes way deeper than what you may think!
It is also a great teaching tool to help your child learn about new things.
If you only pick one thing off of this list to do, make it this one!
That short amount of time reading makes memories, creates imagination and gives opportunity for time together.
If you are looking for some great stories about the true meaning of Christmas, click here.
3. Find Ways to Give from the Heart
Jesus was a gift to us all!
He didn’t come here to give us money or presents or materialistic things.
He gave gifts from the heart.
Brush aside all of that wrapping paper, ribbon and toys for a moment.
What are some gifts that you can give from the heart?
A phone call to someone who lives alone?
A basket of necessities to someone who is struggling financially?
How about forgiveness towards a family member who hurt you a long time ago and haven’t spoken to in decades?
When you, yourself, find truly meaningful ways to give the way that Jesus did, your child sees that!
Then, guess what?
Guess who else is likely to start to find ways to give meaningfully?
Your little one!
Talk About Meaningful Giving
Have a conversation with your child about meaningful giving.
Make a list of people in your lives who could use a gift from the heart.
Perhaps Uncle Louis has been depressed since the loss of his wife and could use a friendly visit.
Maybe a child who is seen as an outcast at school could use a friend this holiday season.
Is your child willing to have a playdate with him?
There are so many ways that we can give of ourselves in a warm manner.
Come up with some ideas with your child on how you both can make the holidays more loving this year.
Just as Jesus would.
4. Engage in Activities that Teach About the Nativity
Children learn best through play!
Try to come up with some fun ways to teach about Christmas the way that it is originally meant to reflect.
Santa is great, and all, but the season goes a little deeper than that!
We want our children to understand that Christmas is not just Santa and reindeer and snowmen.
We want them to learn that it is all about Jesus and His story.
Surely, we want to keep other traditions alive – but create new ones that foster this miraculous occasion!
For some ideas on how to incorporate the Nativity story into your home, click here.
5. Attend Religious Services
Of course, another really terrific way to teach about Christmas is to attend your local church.
There you and your child can gather with others and learn more about this special time of year.
Before the pandemic, I did not attend religious services as much as I would have liked to.
But I always used to take my son to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
I really enjoyed the warmth, the music and the uplifting magic that would happen within my heart.
My son was only 3 years old at the time, but I could tell that it was a good experience for him, as well.
When you gather with others and come together over one common theme, it can have a profound impact!
Your child will get to be a part of that and learn with those around him.
If you are not much into attending religious services, then celebrate in your own way at home.
The important part is that you, your child and your loved ones share the Christmas experience together.
6. Take in Every Little Second
It is really easy to get caught up in the meal planning, Christmas shopping and stress.
Just for a minute.
if your little one is tugging on your shirt to get your attention, just stop.
Look down at those beautiful eyes and give a moment of your time.
Next year, that little one will be a whole year older.
If you don’t stop to pay attention to your loved ones now, then you will miss out on the most important part of the holidays.
You won’t get those little, split-second moments back.
The cooking can wait.
The gifts can wait.
That phone call that you gotta make?
Well, it can wait.
You only get so many moments with those that you love.
So just try your very best to live and breathe in the moment.
When you take in the moment, you teach your child that Christmas is all about the love that you share.
It is powerful.
And when you stop what you are doing and engage with your child – no matter how hectic things are – you teach one very important thing.
You teach that time, love and togetherness is truly what Christmas is all about.
Then watch your child grow up to offer the same.
Mama Morgan is a single parent by day and a writer by night! She is raising two, young children with special needs during a global pandemic. She aims to give other parents confidence, hope, and a practical, down-to-earth reading adventure through her own experiences. While Morgan is heavily focused on caring for her little ones, she is also dedicated to helping others and making the world a better place. Mama’s Grilled Cheese is just her delicacy!