Teaching the Christmas Spirit Our Advent Calendar

I really love Christmas Time, it truly is the most wonderful time of  the year!! I appreciate the giving and kindness that exudes from people during this season, I think people truly are at their best.  And it doesn't matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice, all have this time as a time of giving, a time of celebrating life and all the good things that surround us.  But I fear my kids are not being exposed to enough of the good things about Christmas and soon they will be xmas-ers.

For me an xmas-er is someone who is only worried about the gifts they receive.  And they only give gifts to receive a gift and they judge the gifts they get in comparison to what they give.  They don't feel grateful for receiving a well thought out gift, they only care that the gift was the same or of more monetary value then the one they gave to that person.  To become this way at is not something I want my kids to become and in order to stop that I have to really work on teaching them the reason for the season.

We are a Catholic family, and I use the term loosely, we are baptized Catholic but we aren't avid practicers. We don't attend church regularly (I know you are scandalized), we don't say grace before meal very often(if ever).  But we do live by Jesus' messages, we try to be kind to one another, we do talk about the Beatitudes and we read stories that talk about God and Jesus and if the kids I ask I explain as best I can.

I believe that Christmas is a time to celebrate.  A time to celebrate humanity, a time to celebrate family, a time to celebrate friends. It's a time when you give to others things they wouldn't necessarily do for themselves, whether that's a hot meal from a soup kitchen, a grocery bag of food to the food bank, shovelling a neighbours walk, buying the person behind you coffee just because, or buying your friend a coffee cup because it reminded you of her.  Christmas is about celebrating the miracle of Jesus' life and his life message.  For us, it's about taking the message of Jesus and making it part of your life (I would speak to other religions but I don't know enough about them so I won't make any ignorant claims)

I love so many things about Christmas including the gift giving and receiving gifts is great too, but giving to others is what I LOVE about Christmas!! I don't do it so people will feel indebted to me, I do it because it makes me feel good inside, giving gifts is definitely an intrinsic motivator for me.  I model this behaviour for my kids but I've never thought about how I would share this with them.  How do I teach my kids that the idea of Santa, a person who only gives  and expects nothing is something that is inside us all?  How do I teach my kids about the spirit of giving?  How do I get them to understand that this is the most important part of Christmas it's not about what they get, but what they give?

Chandler is pretty good at this, he doesn't have a job full time yet so we give him some money and he has to buy gifts for everyone with that money.  he does well with it, puts some thought into what he wants to give and then he buys and wraps the presents.  I think he's getting the idea too.

Lil Man is next on the reason for the season lessons, Prince T is much too young but we'll remember this for later for him.  I decided to incorporate my advent Calendar with my elf on a shelf.  So each day the elf comes he brings an advent activity for Lil Man to do.  (again we researched different ideas from Pinterest, and came up with a variety that would work best for us) Lil Man then has to complete the task on the card, it can be about giving up a spot in line, sharing a snack, giving cards to others (military/ hospital/ retirement homes) taking donations to the Women's shelter, Toys for Kids, things that Lil Man can be part of and do on his own, with minimal help from me.

So far he's loving this, he looks forward to the tasks as much as he does looking for the Elf each morning.  I love it because I see him getting to do good in this world, and maybe he won't make a huge impact this year, but he may make someone's day brighter and he may make someone smile and I think that's a win!! And hopefully, he will learn that Christmas is about and he won't become an x-maser, those that only worry about the gifts they can get from others.


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