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More than stuff--making the most of the holiday season as a family

Stuff, stuff everywhere and we are told we just want more. Many of us are weary of this story of the Holiday season. How do those of us tasked with tending the children (our own and those around us) create a different experience and expectation of this time of year?

 Here are 3 suggestions:

1. Give from the toy box (or crayon box)

If you celebrate a holiday tradition that includes gift giving encourage your child(ren) to offer gifts from what they already have rather than buying new things. Perhaps a sibling would really love to receive that toy truck or a cousin would be thrilled to receive that doll they always play with when they come over. Even grown ups can enjoy getting gifts from a child's life. (One time my brother and I gave our parents our coveted bed time story books for Christmas, when all other books have gone away those still remain in their hearts and lives).

Why do this? It can open up conversations about what gift giving really is about. You may find yourself talking about why giving broken toys isn't the same as giving ones that are still working. You may find yourself in a conversation about what it means to "own" and what it means to "give." These gifts can take a lot more thought and a lot more sacrifice than buying new. Whether they are coloring with broken crayons or giving away a precious toy these gifts are things THEY have to be active in doing.

2. Change the narrative--the other narrative.

Many families turn to volunteering as an antidote to the consumerism of the Holiday season. If this is true for your family or you would like it to be--great! However, if you really want an alternative, let's change the narrative we share with kids around volunteering.

Many of us, and the broader culture, turn to the "helping the less fortunate" narrative when we try to explain why we are volunteering, especially during the Holiday Season. While well intended, what this tends to do is other the people receiving the "service." 

Help your child(ren) focus on human to human relationships rather than the narrative of "the less fortunate." What if instead of serving because of a story where we are so grateful to "have" that we give to those "have nots" we serve because our principles call us to do so? 

How do you do this? Try this. . .when explaining why you are serving as a family ask the child which of the principles your family is living out. Service is a great way to respect all people and offer fair and kind treatment (and many more of the principles).


 Looking for ideas on service opportunities for the family? Check out this article.

3. Focus on the ritual(s)

Many traditions have rituals during this time of year that focus on light. Build excitement about these rituals by including the kids in the lighting of candles or building of ritual space. Talk about how excited you are and what it means to you. Many kids (like adults) are mesmerized by fire and candles--capitalize on this and make the time special.

Now, this may seem like a hard sell to suggest lighting candles can compete with anticipating presents. Fret not. Find the rituals that make sense for your family and go all in. Kids may want presents but the NEED loving community--which is what ritual can build. They may surprise  you.

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