By Alison Cupp-Relyea
Every holiday season, many of us lament the rush, the demands, the crowds and the to-do lists and lose sight of what we should be celebrating: Family togetherness, traditions and love. Holidays give us a chance to create bright moments during cold winter days and share kindness and joy with others. With young children, the elements of surprise and wonder add a dash of holiday magic that is irresistible.
This holiday season, don’t fret over the lists. Instead, find ways to revel in the magic. The holiday season will be more fulfilling if you spend some time thinking about what you love about the holidays and create traditions around those things. For example, if you enjoy Christmas carols, start a caroling party with neighbors. If baking is a favorite hobby, start a cookie exchange with your child and other families. For artists, making ornaments or decorations each year with your child is a lasting way to mark the passing years.
If you feel too bogged down by gift-giving to focus on celebrating and building traditions, think about how you select gifts and see if there are easier ways to thoughtfully approach your list without wasting time or money. As children enter the picture, many families shift to Secret Santa-style gift exchanges to cut down on the expense and the time. Also, buying gifts throughout the year when you have an idea for someone means that your December does not have to be spent in crowded stores or shopping online. Finishing your shopping early is one of the easiest ways to have a more relaxing holiday season, and your gifts will probably be more personal, too, if you do not feel rushed into yet another Amazon gift card.
Mixed in with all the gift giving are many opportunities to model for your children what it means to show gratitude and generosity. Once you have your list of people to thank with cards and tips, have your child come with you to distribute them and say thank you. Many of these people are a part of your child’s daily life – the mail carrier, daycare teachers, crossing guards – and thanking them at the holiday season teaches an important lesson. December is a good time to clear out books, toys and clothes that are no longer needed and donate them to someone in need. Many local charities also have programs in which children can select gifts for specific children, and this deepens a child’s sense of purpose and connection to others. Each of these activities involves spending time together and will help shape your family values.
Finally, find ways to have fun this holiday season. Traditions, gift-giving and showing generosity are all wonderful ways to take part in the magic of the holidays. Leave time for pure enjoyment, too, such as going ice skating, driving to see holiday lights and making gingerbread houses. With simple, mindful goals, there is room for a bit of everything around the holidays and you can keep smiling right through to the new year!