By Theron and Mizpah Glenny
Christmas is a magical time of year, but it can also be stressful for parents trying to figure out how to make it meaningful for their family. Every year heading into Christmas, we find ourselves excited for Christmas, but also asking ourselves some tough questions. Like you, we want our kids to see Christmas as more than just getting gifts. We want Christmas to be meaningful to them with memories they will cherish into their adult life.
In our last article, we talked about how to prepare your kids for the holiday season by establishing traditions that will help your kids gain the proper perspective. In this article, we will walk through some specifics that will help you as parents ensure Christmas is meaningful for your family.
What experiences do you want your family to have?
This is important to think through. What do you want Christmas Eve to be like? What about Christmas Day? Plans will likely vary from family to family. For us, we want life to slow down for maximum enjoyment. We want to spend it together cherishing each other. On Christmas Eve, we spend it with close friends and read a special story together when we get home - see our book recommendations at the end of this article.
For us, we start the day doing something that puts things in perspective. Last year on Christmas day, we made a fire in our fireplace and let the presents just sit under the tree. Miz played the piano, we sipped hot drinks and sang some songs. It was awesome! It is His birthday, so why not start the day celebrating Jesus? Have fun with this. Make a plan. Just don’t make it about getting stuff.
But, what do you buy your kids?
Every parent asks this question. You want to get your kids some things, but you want the gifts to be meaningful. There are so many choices that it can be overwhelming! We got the following list off of Pinterest and thought it was very valuable and wanted to share. This will help you keep Christmas shopping simple, but meaningful.
Here’s how to shop for your kids for Christmas:
1. Something they want - this can be a big ticket item they’ve been asking for…obviously within your financial budget.
2. Something they need - sports equipment? Hobby related item?
3. Something to wear - Clothing not usually bought…maybe something brand attire or fun accessories.
4. Something to read - we are huge on this. Is there a book? Magazine subscription? We’ve bought books like Tim Tebow’s Through My Eyes for our son that has had a big impact.
5. Something to do - Movie ticket? Event or game ticket?
6. Something for ‘Me’ - This is a keepsake like an ornament, photo album, framed photo, letter or something you made for them. Theron loves writing letters.
7. Something for family - Board game? Movie? A family outing?
Note, not all categories need to be bought for, but this list provides you with a solid road map.
How do you teach your kids to be thankful?
Thankfulness leads to contentment. It’s painful to watch (and hear) a whiny, selfish and ungrateful kid. Here’s how you can prevent that this Christmas.
1. Prep them - walk through what Christmas day will be like. Tell them they will likely receive some gifts from you and others. Ask them what they should do when someone gives them a gift. Don’t expect them to thank people who give them gifts if you didn’t instruct them to. Prepping them gets them thinking about being thankful no matter the gift.
We tell our kids they probably won’t get everything they want and there may be gifts they get that they didn't want…but that someone thought enough about them to shop and spend their hard earned money on them…and for that, they need to be thankful.
2. Give them the look! - Yes, you know that look...the look that communicates, ‘What did you forget to do?’ We learn by repetition, so it is totally fine reminding your kids throughout the day to thank each person who gave them a gift. Make sure they look the person in the eyes, be vocal, and give hugs.
Lastly, we want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! May it be filled with love, hope, joy and peace. Be blessed.
Recommended Christmas tunes:
• TobyMac - Light of Christmas
• Kim Walker Smith - When Christmas Comes
Recommended books to read as a family during the Christmas season:
• The Best Christmas Ever - Junior Discovers Contentment by Dave Ramsey
• Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
• Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco - This is an absolute tear jerker
This article also appeared in The Daily Herald today.