Confessions of a Dreamer
It is that time of year again where many of us are feeling the holiday crunch along with the holiday rush. So many things to do, so much preparation and work. For many of us who are parents, the holidays are not simply a matter of celebrating goodwill and giving thanks, there is the inevitable pressure we feel to get the “right gift” for our loved ones. In a world where even our televisions boast over 300 channels, shopping for the holidays can take on a competitive sports quality, racing one another to get that last doll or the best deal on the perfect video game.
So how in today’s world of never ending choices do we focus on making our kids happy while still teaching them the value of giving back?
Here are 5 ideas that I have used over the years with my own kids. They receive so much this time of year. I have always tried to instill in them that for as much as they receive it is always so much better to give back.
1. Have your children go through their toys, video games, dvd’s etc… and ask them to select 1 to 3 items each. Make sure that these are items that are good condition and that still have good use in them.
Contact your local children’s home or women’s shelter and with your kids drop these items off. It is a great way to teach them to give back and that by giving you receive much more in return.
2. Contact your local nursing home and ask for a good time to come by to visit with your family. Get a list of residents who do not often get visitors during the holidays.
You can create very inexpensive gift baskets that include basic toiletries, scents and a small soft hand towel. Purchase nice wicker baskets from your local Goodwill. Then you can play “Santa” for the day and deliver your gifts. The year we did this my kids got to talk to a woman who was 101 years old! The stories she shared with us were priceless and it felt wonderful to spend a few hours doing this.
3. Contact your local homeless shelter ask if they have a day where you and your children can volunteer an hour to serve soup, read stories or just offer some moral support. Your kids will learn a valuable lesson about the spirit of the holiday by sharing a few hours with those less fortunate who are so grateful for simple things likes socks and shoes.
4. Have your children sit down with some art supplies and invite their friends over. Host a Spirit of the Season Card Making Party. Have them make as many cards as they possibly can. Take a visit to the local Children’s hospital and leave the cards for distribution by the staff. Nothing makes a child feel better than knowing they did something to brighten another a child’s day.
5. Give your children 5.00 to 10.00 each. Let each of the know that they need to put a lot of thought into a gift for a child their age or younger. Take them to your local thrift store, Walmart etc… and have them purchase a gift with “their” money. This time of year there are so many opportunities like Toys for Tots etc…that have collection boxes all around town. Take your child to personally place the gift in the box. It is a great way for them to feel they are giving as well as receiving.
I hope some of these ideas will inspire and motivate you to use with your own kids today. As in the words of the great John F. Kennedy. “If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?” Together we can teach our kids that there is much more to this time of year than presents under the tree.