3 Ways to Instill Gratitude During the Holiday Season
A common theme we’ve been seeing with Thanksgiving just around the corner? Gratitude.
And while it’s an especially big focus around Thanksgiving weekend, we don’t want it to stop there and fizzle out. The holidays are quickly approaching and for mamas, it’s an especially busy month. Although the reason for the season is slowing down, taking a break and enjoying family time, you might find yourself stressing out over Christmas lists and budgeting and marking holiday plans on your calendar (although 2020 might’ve cut you a break there).
Despite all the running around, the planning, and the (what feels like) endless shopping, when’s the last time you felt like your children truly appreciated all the effort you put toward making sure they can check it all off their list? With Santa getting all the credit for so many years, you might not always get the credit where credit is due. And sure, that’s what being a parent is all about, right? Seeing the joy as your kids wake up with excitement on Christmas morning.
But it’s important to teach your daughter that even though getting the newest iPhone might feel like her top priority, some people are just wishing for clothes on their back. While she’s baking cookies to leave out for Santa, someone out there is struggling to figure out their next meal. Instead of expecting that new and expensive gift under the tree, try shifting their perspective this holiday season to make gratitude a top priority. Show her why giving could feel better than any gift she’ll receive.
To successfully take on operation gratitude, we’ve created a Christmas list that looks a bit different than the ones she’s been making. These three easy yet impactful tasks will make a huge difference in how she views the holidays, so make sure to go through the list together, and let it serve as a reminder of what’s truly important (and that all those shiny, new things are just an added bonus to what really matters).
- Have a closet or playroom cleanout and donate unwanted items to charity. How many times do your kids ask for something, play with it a couple of times, and kick it to the curb? Has it been collecting dust since last Christmas? Set aside an hour or two to go through your daughter’s closet with her. Prepare a bag filled with clothing, toys, electronics and other items that no longer serves a purpose, for her to pass along to someone who might not have the luxury of getting it brand new. Do some research, and find out where you can drop off your items that’ll get them into the hands of someone who needs them. Explain to your daughter how another person might really value these items, whereas she has the privilege of having them without even thinking twice. This will also help her recognize things she really loves, versus things she might like but not necessarily need. Does she really need everything she put on her Christmas list? Or is the majority of it something she might use twice and forget about?
- Purchase a new gift for a child in need. Take a shopping trip to pick out something special together. Find local toy drives or drop-offs, or bring it to your nearest children’s hospital. Teach your child that the season is about giving just as much — if not more — as it is about receiving. Or, another challenge: when your daughter hands over her Christmas list, encourage her to pick something from her list that can go to a child in need instead. Does she REALLY need a new pair of boots, or are the ones from last winter still holding up just fine? Express to her why buying for someone in need will add so much more value to her life than just simply receiving the gift herself. Then go out, and pick it up together. The act of making a difference will be so rewarding for both of you, while also serving as some great quality time spent together!
- Reach out to loved ones. Teach your child to embrace the holiday spirit and take initiative on reaching out to relatives over the holiday season. We all know 2020 looks a little different than past years, so have your daughter reach out to the people she may normally expect to see on Christmas Eve but might not this year. Have her hop on FaceTime and check in to see how Grandma is doing. Set up a virtual gingerbread house contest on Zoom with Grandpa. Help her hand-make a Christmas card and send it out to her aunts and uncles out of state. Not only is it a nice surprise -- but a little arts and crafts never hurt anyone! Prepare a holiday goodie bag and drop it off on next door with a short and sweet note: “Thanks for being such great neighbors! Happy Holidays.” This teaches her to value time, effort and memories just as much as she values presents under the tree.
Block off some time in your schedule to go through the list, and take pictures as you go along to reflect on each year. Capture the memories of making a difference together, and let them serve as a reminder to keep being the good the world needs! Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness are the ones that make the biggest difference!