Day 3 Yule in our Hearts
Giving and generosity are important values that have special consideration this time of year. Volunteering time, money, food, or packages help to nourish feelings of good will and hope.
I feel very grateful to lead the life I have. I am blessed to have the things money can’t buy, and enough “stuff” to be happy and comfortable. It is very important to me that my children acquire similar values. I try to accomplish this by not putting too much emphasis on receiving gifts, and involving them in giving to others, selecting items for charity, and volunteering time for others.Some ideas for giving this year and including the kids are:MDC’s Holiday Helper http://www.mothering.com/discussions...holiday+helper
1. Host a Coat or Food Party
For a coat party, have guests bring coats that are used but still in good condition. Put younger kids to work cleaning out pockets and using masking tape to mark areas that need to be mended or buttons that are missing. Monitor and help older kids sew buttons and do simple mending. Other kids can decide which coats might need dry cleaning and which are ready to go and separate them into piles. It'll be a celebration sure to give everyone a warm feeling. If you want to have a food party, ask for canned and dried food and have kids help pack it up for food banks and shelters. You can also host toy or book parties!
2. Sing and Dance for Joy
If your child is the type to surprise you with impromptu puppet shows or sings from dawn to dusk, consider harnessing that energy to put on a play (or other performance) at a nursing home or community center.
If your family isn't up to the responsibility of being the sole form of entertainment, consider becoming part of the festivities at a community center holiday party by putting on a skit or a few musical numbers. This is also a good option if your family can't agree on a single performance piece and everyone wants to put on their own show.
3. Help Furry Friends
For animal lovers, helping out at a pet shelter is an easy choice. Donate a few days or just an afternoon to give the regular staff a break and fill in for vacationers. Even during the holidays, dogs need to be walked, cats need petting, and all animals need to be played with, fed, and have their cages cleaned. If you have young or sensitive children, a no-kill shelter is a good option (especially if you don't want to come home with a new pet!). You can also help out an animal shelter by collecting always-needed supplies such as cat litter, pet food of every variety, dog leashes, animal carriers, collars, and household goods such as paper towels and garbage bags.
4. Serve a Senior Citizen
If your child is unable to spend time with her grandparents this season, consider reaching out to an elderly person. The winter and holiday months are often the hardest on the elderly and a little help will be much appreciated. Or bond with older neighbors by arranging to have your child help with their shopping or bringing them along for trips to the mall. Your child can also shovel the snow off a senior citizen's walkway through the winter as a holiday gift.
5. Feed the Needy
The most familiar way to volunteer is still a perfect one: Help out at soup kitchen or food bank. The holidays are the busiest time at shelters and they need help setting up, serving, and cleaning up. If your older child is interested in cooking, he can don an apron and help prepare food in the kitchen. Not interested in food but want to help the hungry? Consider sorting the donated goods or helping with office tasks like answering the phone.
6. Give While Spending
Even the busiest families can make a difference by deciding to spend their holiday (and regular) dollars in a way that benefits others. Sit down together in front of the computer and join iGive, a free service that donates a portion of every purchase you make at hundreds of popular online stores to a charity of your choice. Another option is to visit a real or virtual charity auction (there's a whole section devoted to this on eBay) with your child to complete your holiday shopping. Or let your child help you pick out holiday cards that benefit a charity such as the ones from Unicef or charitycards.com and send goodwill to all your loved ones.
Good habits start young, and showing appreciation is no exception. Try these simple strategies for increasing your child’s awareness of the importance of being thankful.Practicing Giving Thanks
Many families have a Thanksgiving tradition that involves each person announcing what they are thankful for. Why limit this lovely practice to one day a year? Try incorporating this into your family routine daily, perhaps at the dinner table. Young children can certainly benefit from the opportunity to take the time to reflect on their day and announce to their family what they are thankful for. Whether they are thankful for their dog, a trip to the park, or their milk, they are learning how to recognize the things in their life, both big and small, that they appreciate.Pointing Out the Positive
Model for kids a positive and appreciative attitude by verbally noticing the small but nice moments that happen throughout your day together. Statements like, “it was nice of that lady to hold to door open for us,” or “we sure are lucky we got such a nice day for our picnic,” helps kids learn how to recognize and acknowledge when good things are happening.Modeling Thankfulness
Make sure kids see you thanking others, and thanking them, often. When kids hear comments like, “I really appreciate that,” or “that was really helpful,” they are more likely to use such statements themselves. Plus, it's a real boost to their confidence and self-esteem.Helping Kids Be Givers
Letting kids participate in small acts of service can expose them to situations where adults are thanking them. For example: let your child be the one to put the money in the Salvation Army pail, or help hold a door open for someone, or help a younger child at the park.Thanking for Gifts
Get kids involved in making thank you cards for gifts as early as possible. Even if their participation is little more than putting some stickers on a thank you cards or “writing” their names with a crayon, they benefit from practicing the process. Explain what you are doing and why, and gradually kids will assume more of the responsibility for the process as they get older.
Finding small ways to show thanks every day sets a great example for small children. Helping kids show and practice their thankfulness beyond the holiday season will also build their character and help them develop a more positive attitude.