Does your blood pressure go up a few points every time you hear your children screech, “I want that!” into the television set? At times I become so frustrated with the “I wants” that I consider tossing the TV into the woods for the chipmunks to use as a hotel.
Even though the level of television advertising has significantly increased over the past forty years, there are several ways parents can help and encourage their families to embrace the spirit of the season and to think of others. Here are just a few ideas that might work for your family.
Volunteering is an excellent way to help your family move their focus to others. Whether you choose to volunteer at church, raise money for charities or help out at a local food pantry or shelter, it’s a good idea to consider what causes and issues are important to your family and what skills your family has to offer before selecting volunteer opportunities.
Donating Gently Used Items
At least twice a year, I go through clothes, toys, and other household items and decide what can be donated to our local crisis center and the church’s annual tag sale.
But this doesn’t have to be a one-person chore.
Include your family in the process by starting off with a brief discussion of being thankful. Encourage family members to share what they are most thankful for and help them understand there are many people who are in need of some of the things they already own.
Ask each family member to donate three gently used items and decide as a group which shelter or organization will receive these items.
Do you have a relative or neighbor who can no longer drive? Plan a visit with your family. Bring along a baked good or other homemade item to make your visit extra special. Offer to help him/her do a bit of shopping or to decorate his/her home for the holidays.
Focus on People, Not Things
It’s easy to get so tied up in buying gifts, baking, and decorating that we forget to spend time together. Help your family enjoy the peace and love of the season by dedicating one night a week to each other. Now is the perfect time to cut back on watching television and have family reading nights. Pick a favorite holiday classic, like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and settle into the family room together and read a small portion each night.
Children learn a lot by watching their parents, so lead by example. Encourage your family not to focus on how many gifts they receive by spending less money while increasing the amount of time you spend together.
When you make people, not things, the priority, everyone can have a truly meaningful holiday season!