8 Ways to Keep the Happy in Your Holidays
by Melissa for grandparents.com
No one can deny that the meaning of the holidays can easily get lost during this frenetic time of year. All year, it feels as if we are moving ever faster to keep pace with technology and the daily changes in the world around us. Yet that pace only becomes magnified at the holidays. Parents are increasingly worried about “delivering the goods” by bringing home that must-have toy and not disappointing their children. Black Friday sales begin ever earlier (10 pm on the once-sacred Thanksgiving Day), with many deals leaked to generate mass consumerism.
I have to ask, “Isn’t there something missing?”
Thankfully, children’s joy emanates from the simplest pleasures, which is the antithesis of the commercial aspects of the season. The holidays are meant to be full of miracles, hope, and tradition. Those were the principles on which they began, and are the basis of the stories told generation after generation. Yet in the minds of many, the season has become more synonymous with traffic jams, endless searches for parking, and hordes of pushing and shoving shoppers. Saddest of all, parents are not feeling joy, but tremendous stress at the thought of disappointing children on that special day. This makes what should be a magical time into a competitive, aggravating experience. And that is NOT what the holidays are supposed to be about!
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For the children’s sake, it is imperative that we parents and grandparents set a good example and instill in them the meaning of the season. Done correctly, this WILL bring cheer to all! And the best news is that implementing these traditions costs little, and is a cinch to execute. All it takes is targeting the basics, and focusing on the simple aspects of celebrations that are most meaningful.Here are a few of my favorite holiday activities to do with children:
- Play holiday-themed music in the car and at home. Print out lyrics and get EVERYONE to sing along! This always puts us in the holiday spirit.
- Fill the house with homemade decorations. All children love to do arts and crafts, and what better theme than the holidays? Paper snowflakes, seasonal cutouts, and paper chains are a few of our favorites and make the house look festive and special.
- Make holiday-themed food. Kids LOVE baking, and devouring their concoctions. And sugar cookies have no religious denomination! They can be cut in any shape and size, and decorated in various colors to be enjoyed by all.
- Make homemade gifts. Request that everyone in the family give one gift that is handmade and truly from the heart. This can include a drawing, a photo in a hand-decorated frame, a poem or story, a scrapbook, or any other homemade creation or inspiration.
- Make holiday cards. Share suggestions as a group, and create a special family message, poem, joke, or quote for the season. Then decorate each card with personal flair. Cards are the perfect way to spread joy to family and friends — especially those who live far away!
- Create an evening focused on your family’s culture. Eat traditional holiday foods, read holiday stories, and play traditional games. This will become something children look forward to year after year.
- Turn off the lights, and enjoy the glow of candles or tree lights. Go around the group and ask everyone to detail what they like most about the holiday, and to state their wish for the season.
- Give the gift of giving! Have the children go through their entire toy inventory and designate a pile to give away to those in need. Plus: Ask each child to choose one NEW gift to give to a less-fortunate family. Go with the children yourself to help drop off their gifts, and then volunteer with them, wrapping gifts or serving at a soup kitchen. The more children give to others, the less focused they will be on what they receive.
The holiday memories children will carry with them longest will be those of family togetherness, tradition, and giving to others. The holidays should be a reminder to us all that family matters and that we care about each other — with that group extending to all of humanity and those who are less fortunate. That human connection is much more powerful than material gifts, and will endure well past the season.