When I was a child, Christmas was my favorite holiday. I loved everything about it—the baking, decorating, music, movies and all the special holiday events my family attended. Now, as an adult it ranked as my third favorite holiday behind Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. How did I lose my love for Christmas? How could I get some of that childhood magic back?
In thinking about memorable moments from the past, it became quite apparent: I was focusing on all the wrong things.
The strongest, most enjoyable memories included themes of family, tradition and service. Years from now, my kids probably weren’t going to remember all the presents they received but they would hopefully remember the special things we did as a family.
I knew right away my holiday focus needed to change. Although my family had begun some of our own traditions like picking out fresh cut trees and attending Christmas plays and concerts, we hadn’t focused much of our attention on service projects or acts of kindness.
I can vividly remember how my mom and I shopped for that family in need. We did buy gloves, mittens, hats and underwear, but we also bought a lot of fun toys for each child. Even though I never enjoyed shopping, I can remember having fun picking out all those toys. That Christmas morning I felt very joyful as I imagined that family opening their gifts. I learned first-hand it was just as much fun to give as it was to receive.
Once I realized that I wanted my children to understand the joy of giving, I decided to start volunteering as a family right away. Luckily, our school district has so many opportunities to help our community. This past year, my family has volunteered for initiatives that have helped animal shelters, other local school districts, the homeless and our military troops. Volunteering along with my husband and my seven and four year olds has been a wonderful experience and one we plan to continue.
This holiday, my family sponsored a family in need, just like my family once did. My children were involved in purchasing and wrapping gifts so they can continue to learn the importance of giving. Perhaps this will become one of our family’s annual holiday traditions.