Just as Thanksgiving provides us with a time to slow down and be grateful, Christmas is a season to joyfully give to others. Let’s take back Christmas from the frantic consumer holiday it has become.

By starting family traditions with our kids when they are young, we can cultivate a heart of generosity.

It doesn’t take long for our children to connect Christmas with presents. People frequently ask my 3 year-old if she’s been good and what she wants from Santa. I recognize they are just being friendly and getting into the holiday spirit, but I want to communicate another important message:

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I don’t care for the idea that if you’re good you get presents and if you’re bad, you don’t.

Christmas is more than just being good enough to get the things you desire. It’s about the gift we have been given in Jesus. And it’s about giving gifts to share Jesus’ love with others.

My little girl has very generous people in her life that give her wonderful presents and I’m thankful for that. I receive joy from their delight in giving and it helps us to teach her to have the same spirit as well. 

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She is at a point in her development where she is learning to have empathy and compassion for others. Sharing is still sometimes a difficult concept, so Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the joy of giving.

Here are a few meaningful activities you can incorporate into your holiday season to foster generosity in your family:

* We love books in our house. There are some sweet stories of giving that help to illustrate how good our hearts feel when we are generous. Here are three of my favorite:

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~ The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan Berenstain
~ Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bourgeois
~ Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer
(This story has whimsical illustrations of a camel that gives his new blanket to the baby Jesus. The text may be a little old for young children, but the story is beautiful and can be paraphrased to get the point across. It is sure to become a favorite as your children grow!)

* In a previous article, 4 Delicious Kids' Christmas Crafts, I highlighted some adorable treats to make with your kids. Share the joy by wrapping those goodies up in cellophane and sparkly ribbon and delivering them to neighbors, friends, teachers, or day care workers.

* Find ways to serve in your community. By serving others we also teach our children about being generous with our time. Expressing Gratitude as a Family offers some ideas for ways you can share your time with others.

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Christmas is a magical time and a wonderful occasion to nurture such a heart. Generosity is an issue of the heart that needs to be modeled and practiced. When I seek to have a humble and selfless heart, I am teaching my daughter to put the needs of others above her own.

 



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Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.



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