Finding the True Meaning of Christmas

christmasMy 8-year-old has a severe case of the Christmas gimmies.  Unfortunately, I have myself to blame for her very unmerry malady.

Whereas I am by no means showering the kid with pre-holiday presents, I haven’t been doing a very good job focusing on the “reason for the season” either.

I’ve been swept into the chaotic tsunami that is the month of December.  Gifts to buy, wrap and mail; cookies to bake, decorate and distribute; cards to take photos for, write and stamp; and the list goes on and on.

As a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the hectic hustle and bustle of the season and lose sight of what Christmas is really about.  Rather than bundling up your child for yet another trip to the mall, consider visiting a local soup kitchen, Salvation Army bell ringing stand or an assisted living facility for the elderly.

If you are looking for other ways to cure the Christmas gimmies and take advantage of the multitude of opportunities the season presents to give rather than get, consider partaking in the following activities with your child:

Volunteer:  It may be hard to believe, but most kids enjoy helping others.  Not only does it offer validation, it also increases self-esteem and encourages humility.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that only older kids can be useful at volunteer sites.  Even toddlers will get something out of dusting the shelves during a volunteer stint at a local food bank or handing out water bottles at a soup kitchen.  Research opportunities in your area to find one that is best suited for your family.  Another great resource is Craigslist, which sorts volunteer opportunities by region.  During the holiday season the lists are long, so you shouldn’t have a problem narrowing your search.  Also, check with local churches which often host “Giving Trees.”  Your child can select a name from one of the branches and you can shop together to fulfill the Christmas wish of a less fortunate boy or girl who may go without this holiday season if not for the generosity of others.

Holiday Cookie Party:  Invite a bunch of family and friends over to help bake a slew of cookies or other holiday treats.  However, instead of eating the fruits of your labor have everyone help package the sweets, and then deliver them to a children’s hospital, a home for the elderly or neighbors whom you feel could use a little holiday cheer.  Allow children to assist in the cookie baking, decorating, packaging and distribution to illustrate how good it feels to do something nice for others.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.