Please tell me that I am not the only parent who has seen her precious children transformed lately by the tinsel that glitters in every store and the twinkling of lights on rooftops?
Suddenly, my children are persuasive masterminds as they plead with pouty lips and glittering eyes for just one. more. toy. And, they are making lists of Christmas wishes a mile long… longer than any grocery list I have made all year. One of my children adds something to his letter for Santa daily.
What is it about Christmas that turns our sweeties into materialistic hoarders of plastic action figures, electronics, and anything else that bings, burps, or glows?
I know exactly what it is, and I bet you do too. The air changes around Christmas time but that isn’t the only thing that has transitioned during the most commercial holiday of the year.
Every store – even the local convenience store – suddenly has an aisle full of toys and displays of the latest “must-have” items. Gift wrap is nuzzled next to cereal boxes in the grocery store. Motion-activated recordings chant to you as you pass the toy section at the supercenter, beckoning with a siren’s song. Commercials display happy children playing with the newest and greatest thing EVER… batteries not included.
And our children are seduced by the marketing.
What can we do as parents, grandparents, and friends to cure the gimmees?
1) Teach generosity.
We have taught our children that a “less fortunate” person or family is someone who doesn’t have everything that we do, and we are to give to them out of what God has entrusted to us.
Sometimes we can give money.
Sometimes we give time.
But whatever we give, we do so generously and with a cheerful heart because generosity is making someone else’s day by giving something away.
2) Involve children in community service.
Our children have been trained to look for homeless people in our community so we can share homeless blessing bags. We also volunteer at our local food bank, pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, collect labels for schools (even while we homeschool), surprise those who serve us with special treats, and much more.
There are tons of ways children can serve the community.
3) Encourage children to buy gifts for others.
As children grow, they come to associate Christmas with getting what they want because that is what has always happened. They wake up on Christmas morning and get gifts. We have to teach them that Christmas is about giving by presenting them with opportunities to shop for other people.
When your child is old enough, tell her how you choose the gifts you buy for others based on what they enjoy. Then, give her a budget and allow her to shop for someone in your family.
Or, involve your children in a local toy drive. We told our children about the local programs collecting toys for less fortunate families. Then, we took our children to the toy store, gave each of them a budget, and told them to pick out one item that they would love to receive but with the understanding that this toy would be donated.
4) Require equal investment.
Our children know that no matter what is on their wish lists, they will never receive everything. Even so, we require an equal investment from their hearts for each item on their lists.
If your child wants five (or fifty) new toys for Christmas, tell him that he needs to donate one toy from his room for each item on his list.
An alternative would be to require one good deed done by your child for each item on his list… not because he is trying to earn these gifts but because we need to remember to put others before ourselves.
5) Live what you teach.
I can talk to my children about living generously year after year, but if they do not see me live what I teach, I have wasted a lot of time and breath. Instead, choose to show your children through your actions. Leave a larger than expected tip. Give to the bell-ringers outside of stores. Tithe to your church.
But remember that living generously doesn’t always have to cost something. You can smile at the cashier even when she is rude to you. Allow someone to pull out into traffic by leaving space ahead of your car. Hold the door open for a stranger.
My children are always watching me. What do they see? That is what I can expect them to do more than anything else.
Free Diligence Lesson
Subscribe and receive my free diligence lesson plan with printable wall pages by email.