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Nurturing Your Child's Christmas Spirit

Updated on December 24, 2014

Giving: The Heart of Christmas Spirit.

The joy of giving a Christmas gift is the pleasure of the giver.
The joy of giving a Christmas gift is the pleasure of the giver. | Source

Nothing quite compares to the sight of a lighted Christmas tree with heaping piles of beautifully wrapped presents underneath its decorated branches. The moment of excitement reaches its climax with the passing out of those wonderful gifts. And, the joy of watching someone unwrap a present is the pleasure of the giver.

Early in our childhood, my parents taught my siblings and me the value of giving to others through action. Being a pastor, my father not only wanted us to know the meaning of Christmas but also to instill charity into our character. Each year, our family stuffed lunch-sized paper bags with candy canes, chocolate kisses, oranges, apples, peanuts, and orange "circus" peanut candy (which to this day I don't like) to give out to church members. I can remember being allowed to stay up late to help with this project.

As I grew up, I looked forward to this time of year because it was fun family time and I loved giving those bags out at Christmas Eve service knowing that it may be the only gift that person receives. Once, I remember a soldier dropped in on furlough. At the end of the program, we handed out the bags of goodies to the congregation. My sister and I shyly approached the soldier and handed him a bag. He reached out and took it with a smile and a tear in his eye. Later, he shared with my parents the warm love he felt in the giving of that one small gift. It helped quench the spirit of loneliness he carried being away from home at Christmas.

Giving Is At The Heart Of Christmas

A simple expression of love is valued as a Christmas gift.
A simple expression of love is valued as a Christmas gift. | Source

Suggestions For Nurturing Christmas Spirit

Christmas shopping can be centered around giving by having your child help choose a gift to give away to a needy child. Make sure you discuss your purpose beforehand and set a price range. Talk about how this gift will make someone who may not have any presents happy. A parent shared with me how his father and mother took him Christmas shopping each year at a local toy shop to buy a present for himself and one to give away to a child living at the orphanage. Whatever he chose was also the same gift given to the child, but being so young he protested believing it unfair to make him split his share of gifts with someone else. As years passed, he came to know the meaning and joy behind the giving and looked forward to the event.

Baking cookies and giving them to neighbors, invalids or the homeless is always a good idea. A family I know started spending Christmas Eve at a local nursing home singing carols and reading holiday stories with those who were alone. Their children gave out homemade cookies to each person afterwards. This family event is one they hold to this day and are now enjoying with grandchildren.

As a family, establishing traditions during this season emphasizes charity everlasting. A Prayer Box filled with requests from family, friends, classmates, neighbors or church members can be a nightly ritual before bedtime. Decorate a shoebox with Christmas wrapping and a bright colored bow to hold requests. Have children pull one request each night to read to the family and join in prayer over the need. This builds faith, affirms relationships, and enhances compassion in children.

In the same spirit, pulling chores out of a Help Jar completed by other family members can be a morning ritual. Enlist children to use stickers, or non-toxic paint to decorate a plastic jar and wrap red and green ribbon around the lid. Write chores on strips of paper like "need help wrapping gifts, help bake cookies, help shopping for mom's gift, help with cleaning toy box, feed the cat, etc." and drop them into the jar. Each morning children pull a slip from the jar and follow through with the need. Afterwards, when the task is complete, they can hang the request on the Christmas Tree. This encourages giving of self and builds the family team spirit (Not to mention, it helps keep them off the "naughty" list!)

Watching family Christmas movies together at this time is very helpful in pointing out the spirit of giving. Enjoy a night of popcorn and treats with a time of discussion afterwards about the highs and lows of a movie. Emphasize the good points like charity and giving. I recently watched the movie Christmas Shoes. The story depicts a little boy whose mother is ill. He strives to earn money to buy her a pair of red dancing shoes like she once owned and loved. The movie really hits on the spirit of giving. I am sure you can think of other really good movies that portray the true spirit of Christmas. The main idea is to enjoy it together and use the time to increase a child's knowledge of giving.

Simple Christmas Gift Ideas

Here are some simple gifts your child can make that will help her or him feel a part of the total experience.

  • Beaded jewelry
  • Write a poem
  • Sing a special song. Compose it yourself!
  • Snowglobes made from baby food jars
  • Homemade Christmas card
  • Christmas coupons for chores
  • Homemade ornament
  • Decorated foam photo frame

Extending Your Child's Christmas Spirit To Those Who Serve

Sending Christmas cards to a soldier away from home makes the time of year a little brighter and tolerable. Children can include a personal note and a hand drawn picture. Family discussions can center around giving a little encouragement and joy to a stranger or supporting our military who fight for our gift of freedom. Here is a well known annual program you can include:

Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20307-5001.

Lastly, your family can employ a tradition throughout the year that culminates at Christmas. Filling a piggy bank with lose or spare change through the year can be totaled and given to a local charity or church program.

"The greatest feats of love are performed by those who have had practice in performing daily acts of compassion" ~ Unknown

Giving is the heart of Christmas Spirit and only requires a little nurturing to establish a life-long habit in children. If you have any family traditions on this topic, I would love for you to share them with us.

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    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Poetryman, I have not heard of any specific school but I'm not surprised. Unfortunately, I believe they will reap what they sew as time passes.

      RTalloni, as the years pass I focus more on making the holidays meaningful and expressing love to others. I think it makes for lasting memories that make a difference. Thanks for the words, dear friend.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Excellent from start to finish! The most satisfying Christmases are those that begin with early planning rooted in selflessness. This is a great guide to consider in the early fall season so purposeful Christmases can be filled with memory making activities that will inspire future generations of family members. Your early childhood experiences obviously shaped your perspectives on life. May this post continue to encourage others to do well in well doing!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Did you hear about that school that is doing away with all Christian holidays?

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Body, what a great job in teaching charity. I'm sure she will always have a giving heart and know the blessings that come with it. Thanks for the heartwarming story.

    • bodylevive profile image

      BODYLEVIVE 4 years ago from Alabama, USA

      It is better to give than to receive has been instilled in our granddaughter from the time she could hold something in her little hands. She is growing up to give. My grand has a jar that we put coins in for her and from her allowance she adds coins too. One morning on her way out the door for school, she was jingling . Come to find out, she had emptied her jar of coins into her book bag. She told her daddy, grandma says it's better to give than receive so I'm giving my money to the kids in my class who does not have any money. My son called me and said Mama you've taught her to give, now you've got to teach her what not to give.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thank you, Barb, for such an I spirational comment. The gift of giving should be all year long. Have a great day.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @teaches12345...This is a beautiful Hub on the power of giving and nurturing, whether it's about Christmas or a Wednesday summer afternoon!

      But the ideas to keep giving the Christmas spirit to the generations are inspirational. Well done!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello Alocsin, so glad you stopped in for a visit on this hub. I think the jar could be used throughout the year as well but it's got a little more meaning at Christmas. I appreciate our comments and vote up. Enjoy your day.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Excellent Christmas ideas. I especially like pulling chores out of the Help jar, which is unique. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Glad you stopped by and enjoyed the ideas. Yes, Christmas is wonderful with children around. If we remember to remind them what it is all about then it will truly be a great celebration for everyone. Thank you for your support.

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 5 years ago from Michigan

      These are some great Christmas Ideas here. Thank you for sharing. Christmas is always better with kids around.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I always enjoy hearing how others celebrate Christmas and yours reflects the true spirit of the season. Thanks for visiting and commenting on the hub. Be blessed!

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 5 years ago from Philippines

      We are 8 living siblings, having lost one almost 2 years ago. We are all in our senior years and I agree that even with our children now grown ups, nurturing that true Christmas spirit among the young must never stop.

      We just held our 5th Children's Christmas Party 2011 for the neighborhood children and close relatives with free food, games, dance presentations, raffle, exchange of gifts and sharing rice and groceries with our beneficiaries. The joy of sharing in our family is observed at Christmastime. The occasion becomes a medium for our family reunion as well. You have great ideas for brotherhood and goodwill at Christmastime.

    • profile image

      Teaches12355 5 years ago

      Thanks, SanneL. Agree, we need to bring back the simplicity of giving at Christmas.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

      A much-needed hub in our consumerist obsessed world. It's so important that parents will be role models for the little ones, in understanding the concept of giving and helping others. That giving is more blessed than receiving.

      Thank you for your great ideas how to nurture the true Christmas spirit!

      Voted up and pushed all the right buttons on this one!