By Theron Glenny
If you are like us, you love this time of year. Your house has a slight aroma of Thanksgiving dinner goodness and you are starting to decorate for Christmas. It is a very exciting and full season so we wanted to pass along some advice to help you make this holiday season special by helping you prepare your kids.
We can’t encourage you enough to help your kiddos process through what they are thankful for. Don’t assume they have already processed through things. Take time to connect on a heart-level with them by asking them what they are thankful for.
As parents, we consistently put effort into making sure our kids hearts are in the right place. A heart in the right place to us is ready and willing to be respectful, to love, to honor, to receive instruction and to serve. A heart gets to that place by first being thankful. We live in a very 'me-focused' culture. Being thankful helps take our eyes off ourselves to see the big picture. It provides the right perspective. It’s the cure for arrogance, depression and entitlement.
What traditions do you have or that you can establish this year that can help your kids get the proper perspective?
Thankfulness requires a response. It requires action. For us in the Glenny home, we make a Thanksgiving list together. We think back over the current year and remember what God has done for us. This tradition may sound simple, but it is extremely powerful. It helps both us as parents and our kids see the big picture because we decided to be thankful. …and it’s fun to look back at what our kids wrote on our thanksgiving lists from past years.
What about you? What will you do? Here are some questions to ask yourself…
- What books will we read together?
- What movies will we watch, and why? Remember, think about the message and/or perspective you want your kids to have. How do you want them to think and feel about Christmas?
- Who will we go visit together?
- Who should our kids buy gifts for? Is it someone in their class? Teacher? Sibling? Grandma? Take time to ask them questions to help them think through what they could give.
- When our kid receives a gift, what will we teach them to do? This can be difficult especially for younger kids, but teach your kids to thank the giver right away and to keep eye contact so they are genuine. For younger kids, this takes time to develop.
Joshua House’s Operation Christmas Blessing
Most parents want their kids to be thankful and generous. Developing generosity in your children does not happen overnight. It takes time and deliberate effort. We look for opportunities to develop generosity. For example, another tradition for us is participating in Joshua House’s Operation Christmas Blessing program. It’s an amazing program that helps parents in need provide their children a great Christmas. We set aside money in our Christmas budget so our kids can sponsor other kids (whom our kids do not know as identities are kept confidential). We usually choose kids who are around the same age as our kids. When you sponsor a child or teenager, you are told whether they are a Male or Female, what age they are and what they would like for Christmas. It’s a fabulous way to bless families and help your kids think beyond themselves and develop a generous heart.
Please note, there are still kids who do not have sponsors yet for this Christmas. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please call Joshua House directly at 814-684-2032.
Make a plan to ensure your traditions happen.
Our last piece of advice is the key to making the holiday season special. We find that if our plans are not on the calendar, they do not happen. There’s a big difference between us saying we want to do something and actually scheduling it. Take time to think through the things we listed above and then schedule them. You’ll be glad you did as your Christmas season will be special for your entire family.
This article also appeared in The Daily Herald today.