If your children are upset because they didn't receive a particular toy or brand name, they (and maybe you) are not understanding what this season is about.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice or your own version of festing, it's time to de-stress December and create a new family attitude.
Shopping, Shopping, and Did I Mention Shopping?
Put your family's creative juices together to find ways you can give gifts to each other without outspending your budget. (Living with bills looming over you come January is a definite cause of stress).
Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling; these make topnotch additions to store-bought gifts:
- Each family member takes a turn saying something nice about the other family members. The sentiment can be written if the kids are old enough, pictures can be drawn if not. Toddlers and preschoolers can even cut descriptive pictures out of magazines. Then, wrap up the thought or picture and put it under the tree along with the other gifts.
- Swear off the malls for an afternoon by making Secret Santa gifts for each other at home: from the simple projects for chubby little hands (gluing stars on poster board) to more elaborate projects for the older ones, nothing says loving like homemade.
- Can't find that must-have toy, yet can't face another store to try to find it? Cut out a picture of it, slip it into a greeting card and add an IOU for an afternoon alone with you including lunch and buying the toy, followed by a movie—post holidays! This not only takes the immediate burden off you, but it teaches delayed gratification to your child.
- Since spending more time with your family is what this season is about in big part, shop online or through the mail. You might spend more on shipping—then again, you might not—but you'll save a lot on wear and tear of your nerves.
What Your Little One Really Wants
Newborns and infants get stressed and melt down just like their bigger brothers and sisters, not to mention their parents. It's easy to overstimulate your baby, especially at this time of year when friends and relatives gather to ooh and ahh as they pass him around. While a little stress is part of everyone's life, big occasions, like holidays, need to be tempered. When you sense Baby going into overload, remove him from the activity and sit quietly with him. As he grows, he will learn to temper himself.
New Traditions, Old Wisdom
- It's important to impart to your children how fortunate they are. Sharing their good fortune with those less so helps make them into humble and compassionate adults.
- Decorate small artificial trees and take them to shut-ins. Include a small present for each recipient: some cookies, lipstick, a book or tape of favorite music.
- Make a date to help serve a meal at a shelter, but make the date for January when most shelters have been forgotten in the post-holiday routine. Even toddlers can put napkins on a table or at least light up a room.
- Even if your child is too young to understand, take him with you when you choose the name of a needy child to give a gift (trees are set up for such purposes at the mall, at your church or temple, at school or other businesses). Match the recipient in age and sex to your child so she can be more empathetic as well as more appreciative of her own family.
- Compare the words selfish and selfless for them. Ask them what they believe is a better way to be.
- Create your own family holiday story. One family member starts it then each family member takes a turn in succession until the story comes to a conclusion --or continue it next year. Record the story or put it into "book form."
- Instead of a chocolate-filled Advent calendar, how about writing down one thing your children are grateful for each day leading up to the big day?
- Take a drive through your town to see the light displays. Then, at home, vote on your favorites. Vow not to compete with the neighbors.
- Exchange a cultural evening with people of a different worship than yours. If you are Jewish, ask Protestant friends in to explain why they celebrate Christmas, then show them how to light the Menorah and explain what its significance is.
- It's a wonderful time of year to expose your little ones to holiday symphonies and ballets, especially the Nutcracker. Many companies have shortened versions especially for children.