A New Holiday
By Colleen Langenfeld
As the holidays approach this year and gift-giving (and shopping) begins, I
can recognize one true fact:
My kids don't NEED anything.
That being said, I still want them to learn about the blessings of giving and
receiving. I also want them to learn about personal limits. I especially want
them to learn that not everyone has it so good. Moreover, that leads into
learning that they have a responsibility to others.
If you are interested in teaching your kids similar values, here's a simple
exercise that can get them thinking along these lines.
Go through their room and belongings - together - and create a giveaway box.
'Oh, I do that regularly', you may say. Great! But this time, do it
intentionally, and with your child. Maximize the teaching benefits such a time
- Your child will probably be getting new stuff for the holidays. Fill a box
with the toys, clothes and such that no longer fit, are used up, or are broken.
Talk to your child about sharing the wealth!
- Fix what you can and donate it. By doing this WITH your child, they learn
about thrift, value and recycling. It's a wasteful society that says something
only has value when it's new. In addition, it's satisfying to make something be
- Follow through on your donations...together! Let your child research
charities that are gathering toys for the holidays. Let your child figure out
the details of getting that box of clothes to the right group whom can put it to
use. Kids are hungry for leadership roles; let them organize a neighborhood
clothes or toy drive for the needy in your area. (Remember to lend your adult
supervision to all of their efforts!)
- Talk about the toys they got last year at the holidays. Are they still
playing with them? Why or why not? This is another great way to get your kids
thinking about the value of their possessions. Talk about how many hours it took
to work last year to have the kind of holiday your family enjoyed. Ask your
child if they would be willing to work that long for someone else's enjoyment.
- Create ways for your children to give to others. Once they're thinking about
helping, it's natural for kids to come up with simple solutions to the problems
they see. Some of those gently-worn clothes could be sold at the local
consignment shop and the money used to buy a Christmas dinner for a family that
wouldn't otherwise have one. Those no-longer needed books and puzzles can be
cleaned up and given to the local homeless shelter. And on and on!
- After the clean-up work is done, have your kids create their wish lists for
this upcoming holiday season. Talk about a family budget and what is reasonable
for 'stuff'. Consider encouraging everyone to forfeit one item on their list and
then use that money to improve another family's holiday season.
By doing this regular 'chore' as a family project, you can share your values
with your precious children and start a holiday tradition that can have
tremendous meaning for your family for years to come!
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