The Christmas season has always made the world feel a little bit smaller to me. My family puts up decorations and so does my community, so do my neighbors. I remember being fascinated to learn about Christmas traditions in other countries. As a child, the holiday season was a wonderful starting point for learning to value the ways we are similar and honor the ways we are different. Later, this expanded to include other faith backgrounds and perspectives.
Penny just turned two, but already I see that helping her understand Christmas as a celebration of all we have already been given will require intention and planning on my part. I know that I am not alone in my desire to find ways to help my little one grow a spirit of generosity, and I wanted to share a few simple ideas that I’m using to get started.
Share Your Season
In lieu of an Advent calendar, I created this paper chain countdown to Christmas. Each ring has an activity to connect as a family, including opportunities to share the holiday cheer with neighbors and friends. The visual element of the chain getting shorter as we get closer to Christmas should make a bit more sense to Penny than a calendar. And it’s another way to make Christmas more about sharing the experience and less about receiving gifts.
I created this printable Christmas countdown chain for my post in the Bloomington Moms Blog this month. Click here to grab your free copy, with extra rings that you can personalize for your family.
Don’t you love that my house is decorated and also messy? This is real life. Also, I used a bar stool to hang the chain. The step stool is only there to lure the toddler into the picture. I’m such a pro. 😉
Share Your Time
Penny and I will be visiting a hot cocoa stand this Saturday as part of the #ShareTheWarmth campaign. A local organization, Bloomington Moms United, has organized this event to involve families and children in an opportunity to get out into their neighborhood and spread cheer for a cause. All proceeds will be donated to our local homeless shelter, the Shalom Center. The event takes place this Saturday, December 2nd from 10am-12pm. Click here to find a map of hot cocoa stands or get information about setting up your own.
A hot cocoa stand is an easily replicable idea. Host one in your community! You can participate in #ShareTheWarmth wherever you live and donate to an organization in your town.
Share Your Talents
Penny has been all about art lately. Instead of trying to hang it all or just throwing it away, I’ve been cutting the pieces down to include with some of our Christmas cards this year. Talent is another way we talk about gifts in our family and hope to teach our children to nurture and celebrate their interests.
What does your child love and how can you encourage them by helping them share it with others? A friend of mine has a daughter who loves to make videos. Her daughter has begun making instructional videos, like How to Make Slime, to share her talents in a way that can benefit others. Kids love to be recognized for their capabilities (don’t we all?!), but showing them a way to use their gifts for good can help to grow a generous heart.
Sharing is a Process
I am hearing a lot of “it’s mine” and “I don’t like it” as my toddler learns that she is her own person, and even though it’s hard to accept sometimes, I understand that this is part of her development and expecting her to regularly share or exhibit generosity will only frustrate both of us. That being said, I’m making space for it to grow. Our attempts to make this season more about giving may not always work out like we expect, and the gift of self-compassion is never wasted. If your heart is generous, and you are already on your way to helping theirs to grow.