Rather than a series of obligations to go and do and buy, the weeks leading up to the holidays can be a time of connection for you and your family. It’s easy to get caught up in the commercialization of the season and lose sight of ways to connect as a family and ways to connect with those around us. When we focus on being present in the moment rather than focusing on the presents under the tree, we’re creating memories that will last our children a lifetime.
Reaching out to the community as a family can be a positive, memorable experience that will inspire children during the holidays and beyond. Children who enjoy the experience of giving back to their community will be more likely to want to do it regularly throughout the year.
Take time to talk as a family to choose what you want to do. For example, if your family enjoys cooking together, find a homeless shelter in need of assistance with preparing and serving meals. If your family loves animals consider helping at the local Humane Society.
Here are some other ideas how to get your family might spread some holiday cheer this year:
- Surprise a neighbor. Take a look around your neighborhood and see what needs to be done. Spontaneous acts such as raking leaves, shoveling the driveway, checking in on an elderly neighbor or cooking a meal for a new mom are simple, inexpensive ways to connect with your neighbors and brighter their holiday.
- Make treats for local heroes. Visit your local fire department or police department and pass out homemade baked goods to the men and women who serve the community every day, including on holidays.
- Clean out the toy box. The holidays are a great time for children to clean out and donate games, toys and clothing. Small children can also participate in choosing a few gently-used items to donate.
- Partner with a homeless shelter. During the holidays—and the cold weather that accompanies them—those who serve the homeless can always use assistance. Contact a shelter and find out what they need like food, blankets, clothing, personal hygiene products, etc. Children can make handmade cards to accompany the donation.
These are just a few of the many ways you and your family can help make your community a brighter place this holiday season, even if you start out small. It’s easy to fall victim to the commercial nature of the holiday season, but you and your family can tap into true spirit of the holiday by giving back, giving thanks and lending a helping hand to those in need.
This article was written for the December 2019 edition of Parent Source.