Teaching Children to be Generous
Originally I wrote this post to center around Christmas. It occurred to me as I revisited it that we can do many of these activities with our own tweaking any time we would like to throughout the year.
Taking time to enjoy and have fun with our families and friends with no special reason keeps relationships strong and makes memories you will cherish for many years.
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.— Kahil Gibran
The words above from the Prophet are among those that have remained with me since I first read Kahil Gibran's writings as an 18 year old who would enter college in the fall of 1966.
My Momma had shown my sisters and I this practice each day of her life as we were growing up. She did not sit down and tell us how giving of ourselves would enlarge our lives so much as she showed us by her life.
Learning to give with no expectation of anything in return increases the size of our hearts at least three sizes (not unlike how the Grinch's heart grew in the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.)
One of the longest lasting gifts you can give your children at any time of the year is leading them to the realization that selfless giving changes lives....the lives of others and their own.
A YES YES Nativity Scene
Christmas festivities begin many times just after Thanksgiving
Personally this is a favorite time of the year for me every year. The sights and sounds and aromas that surround us rekindle the joy of family time that I knew as a child and have experienced as an adult.
One of the best parts is helping my grandsons with gifts for their Momma and Daddy.
There are so many ways that you can make this a memorable time of the year without it costing a fortune
Small trees just for the little ones....a YES, YES tree
YES, YES tree
This time of the year often brings many changes in your home. Furniture is rearranged, deocor is displayed around your home and sometimes there are some new NO NO's.
To help the precious little ones not feel lost in the whole process, maybe you can begin with a YES, YES tree or two. I have two.
A YES YES tree is one obviously that the ornaments can be taken off and on any time by the little one.
The ones I have are both live trees so they need gentle touches.
I did this last year when Little Man was only two and he thought it was just great. Now he is a year older and he really is excited about his little trees.
Remember too it spells change for your pets so allow for that as you decorate.
This musical Angel has been a part of Christmas for my daughter and now my grandsons. It was purchased in Japan when my daughter was 3 back in the 70s.
It's all about the giving...
This is a perfect time to begin a year long time of giving.
And giving as you know can be of oneself rather than of material things while that can be a part of 'the giving' as well.
This is a time to teach little ones and to remind not-so-little ones about thinking of others too at this time.
Perhaps each child can do some nice deed for a neighbor or for other children who may be less fortunate: pick up yard debris, take the newspaper up to the house, take the trash to the road for a few days, help an older family member shovel snow---so many small ways to say "I am thinking of you." And it teaches children about reaching out to others.
Share an extra toy or some gently loved toy and clothing with someone else or donate to a local church or shelter...have the children go along and actually see the donating happen.
Remember to include donations for precious animals at animal shelter too.
Happiness doesn't result from what we get, but from what we give.— Ben Carson
Falling in love all over again with Luther..."This is Christmas" just says it all...
Add some silly new celebratory days to the mix this year...
You may wish to consider is a December-long month of ideas that you can do with your family. In the hub, I shared daily fun things (there are a few that are serious but I felt needed to be included) that you can do with your family. You can make them as simple or extravagant as your budget and time allows. One event on the calendar is Chocolate Everything Day. What is not to celebrate there??
Here is the link to that hub:
Choose lovely stories to read to your family
Another way you may wish to make this time special is to read stories to your family throughout December. If you have third grade through fifth grade even sixth grade students in your family, be sure to read THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER by Barbara Robinson. It is a great read aloud and has layers of messages for everyone.
The Bible story about Christ’s birth is always a great choice.
Remember too 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Even now, all of these years later, one of the most special times was when my Momma and Daddy would read Christmas stories to us in December. My beginning for the love of reading began with stories being read aloud.
Watch some silly songs ....
A Cookie Party or a Cookie Exchange
A Cookie Party is a grand tradition to begin. It does take some planning and some extra preparation. . My son-in-law’s Aunt is the hostess for this event each year. About four days before Christmas the whole family is invited to her house to decorate Christmas cookies and have soup or chili and slow down for a bit to reflect on how much family means to each of us.
More details in the following link---
There are also cookie exchanges that you can do with your friends and family. We used to do this each year when I was teaching. We would bring a dozen or so cookies, more than one kind if desired, to school and after work, we would set them out. Everyone brought a container and was allowed to select a cookie from each batch of cookies.
Each one of us left with a tin filled with scrumptious cookies.
Another YES, YES tree
12 Days of Christmas...
A little tradition I began when my daughter was in sixth grade was the 12 Days of Christmas.
For the 12 days immediately prior to December 25, I gave my daughter a gift. Each gift was the same just with a different title: that’s right, I gave her a book each day. And each day she was thrilled. She had begun to read R.L Stine books at the time and could hardly wait to see the next one appear.
And, yes, I did wrap each one.
At the time the books were not so expensive so I purchased them new.
You can usually find suitable books in great condition at flea markets and yard sales. If you do wish to buy them new, purchase one or two a month throughout the year. Just keep track of where you hide them!!
Already for the grandboys to peek in...
Advent Calendars are everywhere and can be made unique to your family. I have a little house that is for our family. I usually slip a dollar bill or five or larger if I have ever one behind a little door. There are times when I will slip a little toy in rather than money. When my grandson who is now 18 was much younger, I would put quarters behind the doors.
Now that I have a baby grandson who likes to open the doors, I will be putting toys and quarters in for him. I may need to get a second one..we will see how this plays out.
What fun it is on the Polar Express
Polar Express Night
Maybe you would find that a Polar Express Night would be fun.
When I was still teaching the day before we got our for Christmas vacation, our classroom was transformed into the North Pole. Children rode on the train that my daughter created each year after the school principal punched their ticket with a snowflake punch.
Many activities are found on the Polar Express site ...you could invite some children over, everyone wears pjs, has hot chocolate (or chocolate milk) and cookies, does some of the activities you will find on the site, and maybe you watch the Polar Express dvd.
It is a fun activity for sure.
All set to begin a new day
Elf on the Shelf
The Elf on the Shelf is fun for families with very young children…say three and up to maybe six depending on your child. You know if your six year old would think they have outgrown something like this.
It is a commercial invention of sorts that comes with a book which tells the story of the Elf’s magic to kids. Or, you can make your own elf and you can tell the story to your children.
(If you do not have one yet, Target and other stores that carry books have it but you do not need to buy the commercial version. You can make your own Elf as I mention later and you can make up your own little story to go along with it.
It is really a cute little ongoing activity to do. The little Elf is a little guy who comes from the North Pole to peek in on children to see what they are doing and how they are behaving in the weeks before Christmas. He or She if you prefer arrives around Thanksgiving time and stays till right before Christmas Day.
His or her arrival can be as special as you want it to be for your child. The Elf may come that first day bringing a little surprise for your child.
The two rules are: the Elf cannot speak or move while anyone else if awake; the Elf cannot be touched as doing so may damage him so he cannot travel back and forth to the North Pole.
It is cute cute, I think. I have read that some Moms think it is creepy that the Elf moves to a new spot each day and that the Elf itself is creepy looking.
Not so to me and my family but I do understand that we all have our own views which makes our lives unique and special.
Another criticism I have heard is that moving around the Elf is ‘just one more thing’ to do in this already busy time. Moving him to a new spot can be as elaborate or not as you wish to make it.
My daughter’s take on this is: if Little Man (my three year old grandson) finds it fun and exciting then it works for her. He is so cute as he tells me about the Elf each day. His Elf arrived three days ago.
Caroling Pageants and Parades
You may already do these:
- Christmas caroling around your neighborhood
- Attend, together as a family, a living nativity, a live singing Christmas tree, or a Christmas pageant. You may even be starring in one of these yourself.
- Gather the whole family and go to watch a Christmas parade.
Taking time to enjoy each other.
December is filled with hustle and bustle. And many of us are on a tight budget but want to make the month one filled with joy and love and fun without breaking the bank.
Do whatever works for your family. There are so many other things you can do, like make cookies with your children or grandchildren, that slow down the pace a bit and bring family members closer creating memories that will last a lifetime.
© 2013 Patricia Scott
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