Jake has been planning his Christmas list for well over a month. He has reviewed it with me daily.
We all remember being children and the anticipation over what might be inside our presents on Christmas morning. Jake’s excitement is normal but it does have a touch of entitlement to it. As I wrote in my last post, Christmas: Santa or Jesus?, it’s the Christmas spirit of Love that I really want to emphasise in our family this season. I hope to show my boys that there are aspects to Christmas other than getting presents that are joyful also and to shift some of the focus off what they can get onto what they can give.
With that in mind, over the years, we have developed a few simple family traditions for giving at Christmas time. Spend twenty minutes on Pinterest and you’ll have lots of great ideas you might want to use with your family. Here, is what we do –
Making cards and gifts for others – Making homemade gifts and cards helps us to focus on the people we have in mind for them. Jake and Thomas have been involved in making things for others since their first Christmases. Initially, they contributed red and green art to homemade cards but now Jake can write his own messages and make simple gifts. Not everyone we know gets a homemade gift or card because that’s not manageable for us. We usually make them for teachers or the boys’ own friends.
Helping with Christmas jobs – learning the gift of service begins with helping me out with Christmas jobs! Perhaps it’s helping to bake for one of the shared morning teas we attend, to select an appropriate present for someone or tidying the house for Christmas visitors.
Candy cane elves – We did this activity for the first time last year. We attached notes to candy canes saying, “If you find this candy cane, it’s yours. Merry Christmas”. Jake then hid them around the local shopping mall for people to find as we did our errands. He was buzzing with excitement. The best part was walking past places where he had left a candy cane and discovering that they had been taken!
Christmas giving jar – at the beginning of this year, we put a Christmas Giving Jar in our playroom. I made a label for it and a slot in the lid to post coins through. Throughout the year, we have put our spare change in it. Jake has contributed small amounts of his pocket money and Thomas has posted coins in for my husband and I. We counted it up this weekend ($96.80) and will decide together how we can use it to do something kind for someone. We may donate it to an organisation we want to support, help someone we know who has a need or buy things we need to perform an act of service. I am hoping that, as the boys get older, they will want to contribute more of their own coins to the jar (though it’ll always be optional) and that they will begin to think of ways the money could be used to help others themselves.
As we do these things, we talk about the people we are doing them for and why we’re doing it for them. This is how we glue the meaning to the process. None of the ideas above are too time consuming and all can be kept very simple. But I hope they’ll add to the Christmas spirit in our hearts and show my boys that there is as much joy in giving as there is in receiving.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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