I recently read an article that talked about the love the Bush family had, and the importance of loving your spouse and children, and it got me thinking. The things I will always cherish and remember most about my childhood isn't the toys or the vegetables my parents bribed us to eat, it's the way my parents hold hands in the car or the "I Love yous" that so many children don't hear. With the holidays coming around, I want to give a little reminder that this time isn't about materialistic things, it's about love and family. From a child's perspective, that toy is going to bring temporary happiness, what really matters, in the long run, is how you love them and treat them.
I didn't even realize how blessed I am until I got older and was able to really see all the brokenness in the world. I am blessed to have parents that love me, and each other. Some children will never even know their parents, they will never feel loved, and that is the most heartbreaking thing to me. Some people never have the opportunity to be parents. Even when we're broken and hurting we can still show love. Even when we're poor, we still have love.
Holidays are stressful. Moms and dads are running around trying to find the perfect gift for their children. Trying to figure out how to make ends meet and if they'll even have anything to give this year. Sometimes with all of this stress comes arguments and heartache. We forget the real meaning of Christmas. We are so focused on making Christmas what society says it should be, that we don't even realize we aren't even taking time to enjoy it.
You may not realize it, but your kids see you. They can see that you're tired, stressed, overworked. As a child, they won't understand, but as an adult, they will. I know a lot of people don't want to hear this, but teach your children how to be thankful. Whether it's a simple card or giant doll house, children need to learn how to be grateful. They won't know the work and love that goes into those gifts, but they can learn early on the importance of manners, humility, and being thankful.
If it's in your heart to do so, you can also show them the importance of giving to others. I've known families that have started a tradition before Christmas where they donate toys or make up their own 25 days of Christmas. Each child has to give up some of their current toys to give to other boys and girls to enjoy. Or they will make a good deed calendar and do something nice for others each day leading up to Christmas. You can come up with many ways to spread love and joy during the holiday season.
I have had 20 Christmases so far, and what I look forward to is times when I make cider with my grandma, singing Happy birthday to Jesus, having to fight over who has to sit at the kids' table and sitting around the table playing games with my cousins. It's the time spent making memories and learning lessons that will really shape you.
Christmas is celebrated in different ways for different cultures. Whatever your reason behind celebrating Christmas, embrace it. Remember why you first started your traditions. Share your family memories with your children. Help them enjoy Christmas on a deeper level so they can one day pass that on to their children.
I know gift giving is the way many people show their love, but let's try to reevaluate where our heart is at when we give those gifts. Give with love, not with obligation. This holiday season, take time to play with your children. Give them hugs. Set all the hustle and bustle aside for a few hours and really enjoy your family. Let your kids know you love them.