Do you know what your children want for Christmas? In our efforts to produce the perfect Christmas for our children we often overlook the four simple things that will make it meaningful for them.
1. A RELAXED AND LOVING TIME WITH FAMILY.
Children want time with their parents. They want to know, “You are a priority in my life.” In our efforts to create this fabulous holiday, our children can get lost in our scheduling.
Children want love in a steady constant way. Quality can’t happen without Quantity!
Pay close attention to your own needs and the needs of your individual children. Are YOU feeling frazzled? Chances are they are too. Relax. Talk a walk. Be satisfied with less than perfect. Breathe.
2. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ABOUT GIFTS.
Be explicit about what kind of gifts your children will be receiving. (If they are too young to understand this, be in agreement with your spouse about the kinds of gifts you will be buying each one.)
Say, “This year you will be getting ________.” Example: “Jesus received three gifts; so each of you will be getting three gifts.”
Say, “You will be getting one large gift such as _________ and one small gift such as ________.”
Say, “I agree that new skis and boots would be fun, but money is tight this year. You’ll have to think of something that costs less.”
Say, “I know you would love a puppy, but you’re in school and Dad and I are at work. Can you think of a pet that wouldn’t take as much time to care for?”
3. AN EVENLY PACED HOLIDAY SEASON.
Children have a 90-day build up to Christmas and a 90-minute window of frenzied activity on Christmas morning. To them it seems as if Christmas is over before it begins. Then Mom is off on 12/26 for the sales.
Block out some after-holiday events. Plan holiday traditions or family activities to look forward to after December 25.
A jigsaw puzzle to begin together on the 26th.
An open house for extended family and/or neighbors between Christmas and New Year’s.
A celebration on each of the twelve days after Christmas with simple activities geared for the children: Kids-Choose-the-Menu-Day, Grandmother Day, Hear-A-Story-As-Many-Times-As-You-Want-Day, Eat-Ice-Cream-For-Lunch-Day, etc.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, plan an End of Christmas Ceremony and carefully pack away all the decorations. This puts an ending on the season and leaves a promise that it will come again.
4. RELIABLE FAMILY TRADITIONS.
Traditions and rituals give children something to look forward to year after year. This is of great significance to them. Traditions enrich each holiday with memories of all the holidays gone before, and traditions give children great comfort.
Be intentional about what you do routinely: Read the Christmas story. Have an Advent calendar and Advent wreath. Put out cookies for Santa. Bake a Happy Birthday Jesus Cake. Celebrate Twelfth Night and Epiphany.
Parents underestimate how important traditions are to their children and how valuable a purpose they serve.
This Christmas season tone down the exhausting holiday extravaganza. What really matters to your children is:
A relaxed and loving time with family.
Realistic expectations about gifts.
An evenly paced holiday season.
Reliable family traditions.
[Adapted from Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson & Jean Coppock Staeheli]