During the holidays, it seems most of us get caught up, so busy, focused on the shopping and the giving and receiving of presents.It becomes more about the commercial aspects that we feel compelled to fulfill rather than celebrating the holiday with family and friends.
Since my children are young (only 23 months and 3 years old), I am fortunate to be able to try to shape what holidays mean to them. I feel it is important to give them something to focus on that makes the holiday feel special and not just about getting presents. So I emphasize each holiday with decorating the house with seasonal holiday things. For instance on our “seasonal table” I will have pine cones, a Christmas tree and snowman, or Easter eggs and Easter bunnies and Spring flowers, or small pumpkins or a witch and ghost puppets. I also may put a decorative item on our dinner table. Another thing I do is bake with my kids a few time leading up to the holiday making a (healthy, yet tasty) cookie with holiday cookie cutters. I do puppet shows for them related to the holiday/season with some kind of moral or lesson (I make the lesson up as needed). I sing songs with them related to the holiday for a few weeks. For Christmas, we make family time around the tree every night where we sing songs, open a door on the advent calendar, get a treat, sip tea and talk about holiday stories. I envision doing family time around the tree until they are no longer living in the house. I’m sure the stories will change and get more complex as they get older. And I hope they learn to tell stories of their own. I usually do research online to find appropriate stories so that I can tell them without reading them a book. It makes it more magical and I can get more animated that way. I can also tailor the story to their age appropriate needs and interest.
So far, I’ve been able to keep my 3 year old more focused on the other stuff rather than the candy, treats and presents related with each holiday. Even with Halloween, he seemed to enjoy the daily puppet shows, songs and costume wearing more than the candy… but I realize he is still young. I hope I can keep his focus away from the commercial aspects of the holidays.
My intention is to create tradition and a seasonal rhythm. It gives them a sense of the season and passage of time (kids don’t naturally have a sense of time passing). They look forward to the same stories, the same cookie-making and the same traditions year after year. (My 3 year old does remember what we did last year!) It gives them something to “hang on to”, a predictability in life, a sense of knowing in relation to the seasons and the calendar. It gives them a sense of family tradition, a sense of “this is what we do, we’ve always done it and we’ll always to it.” I am hoping this makes a life-long impression on them so they will feel that holidays are less about commercialism and more about celebrating family and tradition.
If you don’t have children, you can still change your focus and those you love to be more engaged in celebrating the holiday and the traditions you create. Have a “no-gift” holiday party. Re-gift a well-loved, cherished item to a friend. Give your time or useful items to a local charity– you can even do it as a family or group effort in the holiday spirit. The real truth is that with a little thought, you can give the holiday back its meaning and make it meaningful for you and your loved ones rather than caving into commercialism.
Make it a Meaningful Holiday,
Your Sensible Girlfriend