I decided I needed to start making more of an effort to share with my children what holidays mean to us; why we celebrate, what to consider. The importance of being grateful and giving and supporting others. I chose two specific ways to do this...
#1: A month of being thankful.
For the month of November, I had each child (really only my oldest as the younger one still can't write or grasp the 'thankful' concept) write on a leaf what they are thankful for. It could be something as frivolous as getting a cookie in their lunch box that day, or something deeper like the wonderful friends they have. Whatever it was, it made them start thinking about being grateful for all we have.
I was pleasantly surprised by what they came up with. Grateful for their sister/brother, grateful for the fun toys they are lucky to have, grateful for their parents and grandparents. It was awesome, and it sparked other conversations during other times of the day; comparing with cousins all of the things they are grateful for. It was heart-warming to me when my son reminded me one night, " Mom, we need to do our thankful leaves". Awesome! Yes, there were several days I forgot or got distracted, but he worked hard to keep me in check.
#2: A 25 day countdown chain to Christmas.
The month of December is filled with excitement for children. Last year my son became acutely aware of Christmas and was asking every day if it was here yet. I had a couple people suggest a countdown chain, so I put one together. I wrote the numbers for the countdown on each link and simply stapled them. I should have made them a little thinner, but other than that this worked perfectly!
It had a bunch of unintended lessons in it, too. My son was able to practice his scissor handling, including cutting each link into a bazillion little pieces and various shapes I drew on them. He also practiced his numbers and the concept of counting down ('if this says 13, how many days are left? ...12!). It was almost a little sad for me when we got to the end because he had so much fun with it.
Something else I tried this year was the 12 nights of books. This was a modified approach to a pin someone showed me. I got 12 books for each child, wrapped them, numbered them and put them under the tree. At first I didn't know if it was really worth it, but as the evenings past my husband pointed out how much the kids look forward to their books each night and how fun it is to open them and then sit on the couch together to read them. They were so excited about those books each night, and about sitting together to read them. It was wonderful! I'm wondering if I can recycle some of the Christmas stories for next year to supplement, otherwise this will become a really expensive tradition.
I do want to try all of these again next year, with modifications for improvement of course. I felt like I was helping my children understand the idea of being grateful and thankful for all we have and the importance of family and togetherness. Next year I also hope to find more things they can do give back, which is still a tough concept for them. We tried a little this year, but maybe it will work better next year. Wonderful times, and there's always room for improvement. Happy Holidays, everyone!