By Brandi M. Seals
For youngsters it is easy to get caught up in Christmas, but often times the reason they get excited is the presents. Not giving them, but getting them. For kids, Christmas can seem like a never-ending gift receiving adventure, but its time they learned it is about something more.
Parents can teach their children the origin of Christmas lies in the birth of Christ or if you are going for more of a secular Christmas there is still plenty that can be done to get kids in the spirit. Whatever you do, try to make sure kids understand that it is better to give then to receive.
Children respond to what is going on around them. If you want them to get excited for Christmas, try playing some Christmas music. They can sing along with Jingle Bells and Silent Night. CDs filled with Christmas music are readily available at most music stores. However, if you are trying to save money, there is usually at least one radio station that switches completely to Christmas music right before the big day. So turn up the radio and have a little fun.
Use story time to really hammer home the message of Christmas. Choose a biblical story about the birth of Jesus or read something about Jack Frost. There are many options available. Check out your local library for a great selection. Try to find something that reinforces your beliefs about what Christmas should be about. Keep in mind that a favorite of young and old alike is "The Night before Christmas."
Each year more and more Christmas related movies pop up. There is bound to be one out there that you and your children love. Try watching the classics, like "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart. If you have a television signal and a T.V. you can surely watch this movie for free. It's on every year.
If you are looking for something more upbeat and humorous try "National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation." This film is not appropriate for all ages, but if your children are a little bit older they will enjoy the Christmas hijincks shown in the film.
For little kids get a cartoon. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a classic film based on a book written by Dr. Seuss. This half-hour movie shows kids that even though the Whos had no presents on Christmas morning, they still had Christmas spirit.
If you want your kids to really understand that Christmas is about giving, there is no better way than to get them involved in the gift giving process. If they previously haven't gotten gifts for mom and dad, it is time they started. Have them use their own allowance (perhaps supplemented with some funds from mom and dad) to buy gifts for parents and siblings. Do not buy the presents for them unless they are too young to earn an allowance. You want your kids to know that someone does indeed have to pay for the gifts.
If your kids are already buying gifts for their immediately family, why not have them help you brainstorm ideas for other people you are buying for. Perhaps little Suzy can come up with the perfect gift idea for Grandma. By seeing all the thought and time that goes into getting the perfect gift, your child will not be so hasty to toss away presents that do not immediately please her.
Lots of people make cookies or other treats for the holidays. If you are one of those people, get your kids involved. Not only will they learn how to handle themselves in the kitchen, but they will have a sense of pride when Uncle Billy comments on how much he loves the snacks.
When you make Christmas dinner, try to get everyone involved. Kids can do easy things like cook the corn. If they are too young, they can at least set the table. Make sure everyone has a role and your children do not grow up seeing just one person making an effort. People tend to take the Christmas dinner for granted when they do not prepare it or help out. Let your kids know that a lot of thought and hard work goes into the process.