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The Christmas season is an incredibly special time for my family, especially now that my boys are old enough to have a deeper understanding of the holiday. Unfortunately, many of the holiday traditions they gravitate to are commercial ones: Santa at the mall, chocolate Advent calendars, and presents on Christmas morning.
Last Christmas, my husband and I introduced a new tradition of singing Christmas carols every night with the boys. We printed out lyrics and the boys each got to pick one carol every night to sing together. Afterwards, we talked about what we were thankful for that day, followed by the lighting of an advent wreath and the opening of an advent calendar window.
This Christmas, I hope to build on last year’s traditions by introducing some new customs while keeping my focus on five things that really matter to me.
- An emphasis on non-toy gifts: I don’t intend to be a Christmas Scrooge, but I’ve observed that the more toys the kids get, the less appreciation for each gift. I spotted this fantastic list of non-toy gifts for kids that I intend to draw upon this Christmas season.
- Focus on experiences: Do you remember the gifts you received last Christmas? Probably not. But you likely do remember picking out your Christmas tree or the fun you had decorating that tree. This Christmas, I plan to create more experiences together as a family: doing crafts, baking, going for walks in the snow, playing games. What a great opportunity to talk, share, laugh and have fun!
- Find ways to give back: In my view, charity should be a big part of the holidays. Not only does it offset the focus on presents, but it also helps children understand that they are in a fortunate position and, as such, have a duty to help others in need. Every year, we try to participate in food and toy drives. I’ll be looking for ways that the boys can take more ownership of their giving, perhaps by selecting a charity to support, donating toys or by contributing time to a good cause.
- Time for family: It is such a gift to get time off to be together over the holidays. I plan to make the most of this time by sharing it with my immediate and extended family. That may mean scaling down some meal preparation or other detractors from the scarce time we have together. It will be worth it just to witness my family sharing in my children’s joy for Christmas.
- Discuss the origins of Christmas: I’d like to introduce my kids to the story of Jesus’ birth and explain its connection to Christmas. My 5 year-old son half gets it, but wonders whether Jesus came before or after the dinosaurs. As a child, I was always fascinated by nativity scenes and now want one as part of our Christmas display at home. And while we do go to church on Christmas Day, I would now like to be a more active part of our church community, especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Any special traditions you have with your family?