As corny as it may seem, one of my favorite memories of the winter holidays is the Coca-Cola commercial where they are all holding candles on the hill singing “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.” For some reason, that commercial epitomizes for me all that is good during the holiday season – simplicity, harmony, and hope. (I do apologize to those who know this song and will now have it stuck in their heads for at least a few hours!)
What I don’t really remember is what presents I received each year or how expensive they were. I don’t remember the color of the wrapping paper, how many holiday greeting cards my family received, or if the cookies came out perfectly.
What special holiday memories are you giving to your children? Children need us to spend time with them. Whether it is making special holiday treats, listening to and singing songs, taking a drive to look at the lights, or decorating your home, it’s not about how well you do it; it’s about spending the time doing it together. Wouldn’t it be better to spend time choosing a gift for someone in need rather than finding the “perfect” gift for someone who already has a lot of stuff? Writing checks or giving a cash gift to help is wonderful, but shopping with your children to help the less fortunate will create a memory. See www.toysfortots.org or contact local agencies to see how you can help.
What holiday memories do we not want children to have? I think we can all agree the holidays can be stressful. We need to keep in mind that little ears and eyes are always watching and learning, even when we think they are not nearby. Do you really want your kids to remember you losing it in the mall parking lot when someone took your parking space? Or overhearing you on the phone talking about how Aunt Shannon will probably ruin Christmas dinner? And adults without children are not off the hook; those same little ears and eyes are at the stores, in the schools, and at the gas station, and they are paying attention. If you are out and an adult is “acting out,” it can be a great opportunity to teach your children about compassion and empathy. After you and your child witness an unpleasant conversation between a clerk and a customer, you might quietly say something like, “I wonder if that grownup ate breakfast today? Sometimes you get cranky when you don’t eat.” Or, “Maybe they are just having a bad day, but being cranky and unpleasant really doesn’t help much, does it?”
So, go out and enjoy your holidays this year. Make great memories with the children in your life. Hum the tune to your favorite holiday show or commercial. You know which one I’ll be humming!