Developing an Attitude of Gratitude with Your Kids
By Jeff Westover
Jerry Seinfeld once recorded a hilarious routine about Halloween
as a kid. "Let me see if I get this straight, all I have to do is dress up weird
and parade around my neighborhood and people I don't know will give me candy?
For free? I can do that!"
What made that funny to hear is the truth in it. Over this past
Halloween weekend, I had my 12-year old daughter Abby take her costumed younger
siblings out for a little trick-or-treating. When she returned, her comment
summed it all up: "They're moochers, Dad. Like the ducks at the park, all they
have to do is "quack!" and they get fed."
Abby can be a bit wry but her observation was right on the
money. The whole exercise is absent of meaning even if it is a fun tradition. It
lays the foundation of the "gimme" battle in the weeks ahead for Thanksgiving
Here are a few ideas of how to develop a gracious attitude for
your kids over the holidays without spoiling the fun:
- Invest some time studying and explaining the origin of our
holidays. Thanksgiving is the one holiday almost universal in observance. Most
societies celebrate a day of thanks. Many communities have programs, museums
have displays and there are usually a number of theatrical productions that can
add to your observance of the season. Don't let the chaos of the season in your
life be the only thing they see.
- Provide service. You don't have to be active in your Church or
march down to the homeless shelter to lend a hand, although those are excellent
places to start. Chances are you can find ways to anonymously help a neighbor
that can be fun. We take chances on doing small things like raking leaves in the
dead of night or other such small but meaningful projects. Even a plate of
cookies left as the payoff for some harmless doorbell-ditch can be a fun
- Change some aspects of your traditions. At Thanksgiving, we
might fast for two meals before our traditional dinner and then give what money
we would have spent on food (or, the food itself) to a worthy cause. On
Christmas Eve, we will have the kids write thank you notes to Santa and stuff
them in their stockings before going to bed. It doesn't have to be something
huge to help make the holiday meaningful.
This holiday season don't just observe these special days.
Actively pursue them. The traditions we develop now with our kids will likely be
carried on to their children. Making these days memorable versus just making
them grand will help to make holiday traditions meaningful in the future.
Jeff Westover is a freelance writer and father of seven from Salt Lake City,
Utah. He is the managing editor of My Merry Christmas.com, where folks have been
making merry online for more than a decade. He writes about holidays, families,
parenting, home schooling and photography for a variety of publications both
online and offline. Please visit
http://mymerrychristmas.com for more articles like this one.