The shops and lamp posts along the city streets are adorned with wreaths, bows, menorahs, and garlands. The hustle and bustle of the city has picked up its pace, due to gift, food and decoration shopping. You and your children may be among those shoppers. The holidays are drawing near. With all this excitement over presents, feasts, and decorations, have you taken the time to tell your kids the real meaning of winter holidays?
Determine Your Family's Personal Meaning
First off, you must determine what the holidays mean to your family. The exact meaning will vary from family to family. However, underlying meanings of the holidays can be similar. Many people believe that family is a big part of the true meaning of the holidays. Some also believe giving to others holds a deep meaning during the holidays. Special time spent with those you are closest to can be another meaning behind the holidays. And for others, the holidays can hold a religious meaning.
Seize The Moment
There are always opportune moments to seize for holiday conversations with your child. While gift shopping with your child, you can mention that while some people may be buying gifts, it is not as important to receive as it is to give. Explain about how great it feels to give to others. One way to reinforce that idea is to have your child do something special for someone else. It could be walking the dog of an immobile neighbor or carrying in someone's groceries from the car. It may even be as simple as creating a drawing or craft that is uniquely special to the one it is given to.
Another moment to explain the meaning of the holidays could come during grocery shopping to feed visiting relatives. Explain how important family is and what role they may play in holiday festivities, as well as how important it is for families to gather together and celebrate. Spending time together, for some families, only occurs during holidays. For those families it can be extra special.
Putting the Meaning Into Action
There are other ways to get the point across to your child. Try a few history lessons on holidays from History.com. While discussing various holidays celebrated in December, try discussing with the child common elements, including giving, spending time with family and thinking of others. You may also wish to have the child color some family-themed coloring pages from Edupics.com.
Perhaps you are on Travelzoo.com researching the best prices for your family member to visit you. A nice gesture that could provide a great example for your child would be for you to pay some or all of your family member's traveling expenses to come visit you. Donating to those who are in need can also be a wonderful example of teaching the true meaning of the holidays to children.
GuideStar.org has an easily accessible list of non-profit organizations that you may want to consider choosing from. If your family holds a spiritual or religious meaning behind the holidays, be sure to take time out to explain this to your child as well.
In essence, the methods used to explain the true meaning behind the holidays can vary. The methods you choose to implement don't matter as much as spending time together and sharing the meaning.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
A diverse group of women from all over the US were recently asked about their craziest holiday traditions. From singing Irish ballads, to banging pots and pans, and even decorating the spooky Christmas tree, these families are very creative in their celebrations. What are your family's craziest holiday traditions? How close (or far) from these traditions are yours?
Spooky Christmas Tree, Anyone?
"Our craziest holiday tradition is that we carve pumpkins at Christmas and decorate our Christmas tree with spooky things. We are huge Nightmare Before Christmas fans and do all of our Christmas decor in a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. Instead of a Christmas party we have a Nightmare Before Christmas party and have our guests come in costume." - Danielle in San Dimas, Calif.
"One year while getting ready to decorate the tree, Mom suggested I dig out the Christmas albums to set the tone. I couldn't find them anywhere, yet I did find an album of old Irish ballads. Instead of 'White Christmas', Mom and I belted out 'McNamara's Band' and 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling'. Mom passed on last year, and it's still my favorite memory of time spent with her." - Maureen in Chillicothe, Ohio
Songs for Gifts
"In my house, it is a standing tradition that from the oldest to youngest each must sing a song (holiday or not) before they can open their gift. Let's just say, I don't come from a family of singers and I own plenty of ear plugs!" - Nikol in San Diego, Calif.
"I don't know if it is completely crazy, but each holiday, my siblings and I will have a group conference call. Each one of us will connect one other siblings so we can keep one line open. We then stay on the phone for hours talking about anything and everything. During the hours, we will be cooking and all other activities, but we never disconnect our call unless for an emergency or when we all agree to hand up. We have been doing this for well over 15 years." - Malina in Pensacola, Fla.
"Growing up in a musical family, during the holidays we would go caroling with our instruments. I liked the indoor gigs the best but the outdoor caroling was the craziest. In minus thirty degree weather, our once tuned instruments shrieked and squeaked, but we managed to warm hearts anyway." - Kay in Windsor Locks, Conn.
Pot and Pan Concerta
"Growing up in Roseville and Fraser in the East suburbs outside Detroit, on New Year's Eve, we were allowed to bring out all the kitchen pots and pans at midnight and bang them with big metal spoons and lids as loud and long as we could! We would also listen outside for people firing their shotguns, which is sort of an illegal tradition down that way. Years later, I was babysitting cousins on their first New Year's Eve night and had them do the same thing! They just loved it. At first I think they thought it was silly, but they really got into making a ton of noise in the middle of the night. Years later, I was surprised when one of them told me how vividly they remembered!" - Kim (Pare') in St Ignace, Mich.
Welcome Baby Sun God
"We turn off all the lights in the house, except the TV, so we can see. We do a short Yule ceremony lighting three candles. After a moment of silence we run around the house turning on every single light yelling, 'Welcome baby Sun God!'" - Karen in Fla.
Breakfast at Sheetz
"Every year on Christmas morning we eat breakfast at Sheetz. Started 13 years ago and just stuck. This year will be the first with no Sheetz breakfast." - Summer in Oak Island, N.C.
New Year's Eve Dance
"On New Year's Eve, we have to dance through every room in the house. Crazy, but fun! It ensures good luck and happiness throughout the coming year, of course." - Ali in Greensboro, N.C.
"Our craziest and newest holiday tradition is celebrating Winter Vale with World of Warcraft in-game gifts. We aren't obsessive about WoW; we don't even play every day. But some of these gifts take time and effort to collect and cost zero in real money." - Alex in Hogansville, Ga.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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