Get Rid of the Gimmees!
9 Steps to a Meaningful Christmas for You and Your Family
Christmas can be a magical time for children. Yet this holiday can also bring out whininess, disappointment and an ungrateful "gimme, gimme" attitude in our normally sweet children. How can we, as caring parents, counter-act this contagious and disheartening attitude? Let's use the word CHRISTMAS as an acrostic to remember some key thoughts and actions that can help our children (and ourselves) gain a proper perspective and appreciation for this most holy of holidays.
C - The letter "C" stands for two words - candles and carols. Light your home with the glow of candlelight. The presence of candlelight evokes a holy essence in your home - fitting for the holy occasion that we celebrate. Fragrant candles are even better! And remember to sing the carols of Christmas - together as a family and to yourself as you go about your daily tasks. Play them also on your stereo. The words of the traditional carols will imprint themselves upon your heart and mind and upon the hearts of your children as well.
H - The letter "H" stands for homemade. Christmas does not have to empty your bank account. In fact, the most meaningful Christmas gifts are usually the ones that are the least expensive. Children naturally love to give the creations that they make. Help them to find gifts that they can participate in the making of - simple yet thoughtful gifts that show their love and care for the receiver. (This year, my children are making fleece scarves and pocket warmers for their cousins and other relatives.)
R - "R" stands for reading the Christmas story. Do not forget to spend time in the Word of God, reading the account of our Savior's birth. He is the reason we celebrate this time of giving. We follow in the footsteps of the wise men who gave their precious gifts to an infant King, the Savior of the world. And do not just read it aloud together once, but several times throughout the upcoming weeks. (Helpful hint - this relates to letters "M" and "A" below.)
I - "I" stands for invite. Open up your home and invite your friends and neighbors in for tea and cookies. Why keep all those yummy cookies to ourselves when we can share them with friends? Don't worry about having your home look like a picture out of a magazine. We don't need to be perfect. Our homes do not need to be perfect. But we do need to share the love of Christ with our friends and neighbors.S - "S" is for scoot out the unused toys. Like it or not, your children will be receiving more stuff for Christmas. Prior to Christmas is a perfect time for sorting through unused and unwanted items and giving them away to charity. During this cold and dark season, your unwanted blankets, coats and shoes can be a very real blessing to those who have less than we do.
T - The letter "T" stands for toss. Toss out the toy catalogs! This one is serious. One of the major causes of the "gimme" attitude springs from the onslaught of toy catalogs that enter our homes every autumn. If you would like to keep a few to order from, then by all means do. But do not put them into the hands of your children just to browse, or even to give you ideas. Scanning through toy upon gadget upon toy will begin to spoil the giving heart that you have instilled in your child only to be replaced by envious thoughts.
M - This one relates to the letter "R" above. "M" stands for memorize. Take a few moments every morning to memorize scripture. Luke 2:1-20 or Isaiah 9:6-7 are both good choices for this time of year. If you are reading this prior to Thanksgiving, Psalm 100 is an excellent psalm to memorize and it is only 5 verses long. Very doable!
A - Celebrate Advent. If you have never celebrated advent, perhaps this is the year to begin. Basically, advent is a purposeful celebration during the four weeks that count down to Christmas, reminding us each day of the first coming of our Lord and His imminent second coming. Here is a handy downloadable book that you can have in time for the first Sunday of Advent, which, by the way, is November 30th. http://www.joyfulmomma.org/Advent.html.
S - "S" is for Santa. I'm not knocking the fun that can had with the idea of Santa, but don't be afraid to tell your kids the truth. There is a good book that explains where the story of "Santa" came from and it is called Santa, Are You For Real? We let our older children help in the Santa fun. The younger kids set out the plate of cookies and write Santa a nice note. The older children get to stay up later and eat the cookies and write a return note from "Santa". Another fun activity is to play Secret Santa during the month of December. Each member of the family draws the name of another member of the family. The name of the person you draw is the one to whom you become the "secret santa". This gives family members the opportunity to do kind things for each other. These things can include giving small gifts, writing notes of encouragement, or doing acts of service. But be sure not to get caught! Reveal yourself to your special someone on Christmas Eve.
Enjoy Christmas this year and if you feel yourself getting weighed down by whininess or ungrateful attitudes within your family, remember the acrostic CHRISTMAS and do one thing different to make a change within your home. May God bless you and keep you and give you peace.