For years, I've talked about why my kids only get 3 gifts during Christmas. To be honest, when I first changed to only giving 3 gifts it was hard on my kids. So – how did I change my kids views? In this post I will talk about just that!
We all want Christmas to mean so much more than trees and shiny boxes filled with the latest and greatest. At no other time of the year are people more drawn together and more grievances forgiven than at Christmas. Some of our favorite stories are based on the Christmas “feels.” Christmas is a time to mark God sending His only Son into a fallen world. Three wise men gave gifts to Jesus as a young child. It’s no wonder we associate Christmas with giving.
While these ideas trigger a short burst of emotions within us, it can be a challenge to carry the idea into our lives. All too quickly, life bucks its way back into the forefront bringing our needs and problems to overtake our desire to fully embrace the season.
You want to make a change. It’s been a change you’ve considered in the past, but this year you really want to adjust your family’s perspective on Christmas. You may be thinking that you need to actually set a realistic Christmas budget this year! Like most family decisions, this is a big decision that the parents must fully embrace first.
Here are some keys to remember as you start this change:
If you’ve always spent a lot of money on your kids and you’re wanting to change the season, then you’ll want to help the kids adjust and learn, too. It’s hard being a kid when your parents to do a financial 180 degree turn.
So much disappointment comes from our expectations. Keep in mind that your children’s expectations will be based off previous years. You can help your child reset that expectation by having a family discussion. Focus on the main points of what you would like Christmas to be in your home. What holiday traditions are going to enrich and strengthen your core family values?
We start the process with a frank discussion about how blessed we are, how we are thankful for everything we have, and how we want to always take care of our things. This is a good perspective to have any time of year, but it’s extra critical in the season where our kids are bombarded with marketing, big promises from Santa, and so many avenues telling them that they don’t have the latest and greatest and they should ask for it NOW!
In the midst of our thankfulness we can talk about all of our plans for how we can be generous toward others this season. If you would like Christmas to be an increased time of giving for your family, then include your children in creating a list of opportunities for giving. There will be no shortage of opportunities during Christmas.
Contact local food banks and charities. Volunteers are always welcome, but getting involved as early as you can will allow for any time needed for a registration process that might be required.
Getting your family involved in the Operation Christmas Child project or your local Toys for Tots initiative are two great opportunities. Your family could also adopt an Angel Tree child or to help your children ease into giving. My children love to shop for others and pick out the best gifts when they have a list of ideas.
As you and your family venture into the many needs that are in your own community and they ways you can help, be sure not to miss the opportunity to help your children realize what they have and an attitude of thankfulness. Thinking of others and those less fortunate will hopefully take care of that for you, so there should be no need for forcing thankfulness on them. Just keep your motivations pure and the experience will plant a seed in your children that may sprout and grow quickly or blossom over time. You are teaching them to bless and be blessed in more ways that giving or accumulating material possessions. Your children’s responses will be as varied as their personalities.
I also took the kids shopping individually so that they can shop for their siblings and parents. I'm always so encouraged by how well they know each other and think of what will truly bless their siblings.
This is a great time to work in some homemade crafts for the kids, too. It only makes sense that if you as a family are focusing on homemade baked goods as gifts that you think of each other, too. Work together to bake everyone's favorite? Decorate cookies together. Make Dad's favorite fruit cake recipe while you bake for the neighbors. It's fun to treat our closest family as we bless others.
Incorporate books about Christmas into your reading time. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a classic favorite. The original might be a bit scary for younger children, but there are children’s versions available. The message is quite in line with our 30 day challenge of focusing on others and being frugal in order that we might give back to others out of our bounty.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is a fun favorite. While there are two fantastic movie versions available, the book will provide you and your children the opportunity to interact with the characters. Do crazy voices and have a blast with the silly Seuss rhythms and rhymes.
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado is a heart-warming story that will stay with your children all year long. Its message is loving and tender and perfect for Christmas bonding around how God loves and tenderly cares for each of us.
There are many wonderful books written about Christmas and the season of giving. Most libraries will have a special section set up just for Christmas that will offer many titles for free.
Changing the way your kids think about Christmas might be a huge shift. Just remain focused on the reason you desire the change. Let that support you when ideas may not go your way or you face resistance from your children. So many families have started this shift at Christmas and found that giving and thinking of others quickly became a way of life for them year round. If you don’t sense that your family is growing closer to each other and closer to your goal, then take a step back and assess your motivation.