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Keeping Christmas Simple

The Christmas season

seems even more Commercialized than ever with new toys, new movies, and more-and-more stuff to buy. We need to teach our children how to get out of this consumer rut.

There are plenty of ideas for homemade gifts, gifts of experience, gifts of time, and gifts to charity that are teaching experiences for our children. Why not make the holidays more than just gift-giving and at the same time memorable and fun?

Why not as a family volunteering to help with serving at a homeless shelter, or visiting those in the hospital or a nursing home? Or go deliver Christmas baskets for an organization for single mothers like Rosalie Hall or the Rose of Sharon, or other organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul Society or Salvation Army. This can be a real eye opener and a teachable moment.

Spend a couple of hours together making gifts for homeless children. Many families have been participating in a shoe box Christmas event to send presents to children in third world countries. Fill shoe boxes with toys, tooth brushes and face clothes as a family and send it off to someone in need, through Dr. Andrew Simone’s organization Silent Children Mission or another worthy organization, or to someone you know personally. Consider sharing Christmas day with those who are alone, less fortunate, lonely, isolated and in need of being loved.

Make sure you talk with the grandparents about how their parents celebrated Christmas. Let the children hear you speak about their memories of special dishes or customs. Ask them if gifts were a big part of the holidays? Record interviews of parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles on audio or video. Give this as a gift to other family members.

See if your child wants to pick a favorite children's charity, like a children's hospital or a literacy program and give a small amount from their piggy bank.

Plan gifts that don't fit under the tree. Focusing on love and not material gifts.

Give a gift certificate that they can redeem with you for one whole day with you doing something special, like going to a ball game, a park, camping, learning to bake a cake or "whatever" depending on their interests.

Do not forget homemade gifts. For the younger ones make a sandbox or a rope swing, or beautiful blocks that are very colorful. For teens put together a scrapbook of your family's heritage, or a book of favorite family family stories or recipes.

The world does indeed need Christmas and it is up to us to create good memories for them. Joyeux Noel. Feliz Navidad. Froehliche Weihnachten. Sung Tan Chuk Ha. Een Plesiergiege Kerfees. Merry Christmas.

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