In light of all the visible hatred going on in the world, combined with days upon days of consumerism frenzy, I really wanted to refocus and help my kids turn their attention to something positive this holiday season that does not involve any of the material things they want. And with it being the beginning of December, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to introduce them to a new way to count down to Christmas--something they're already super excited about.
I have never really grown up using an Advent calendar, and up to this point, it hasn't yet become a part of our holiday tradition. But lately, I've been trying to think of ways to teach our children the concepts of empathy and altruism. Given that they are currently ages 8, 6, and 3, these ideas are pretty foreign to their egocentric existence.
It's a battle sometimes, helping young children understand that the things we do as parents, such as creating structure... and rules... and setting limits, are done ultimately for their benefit (according to our parental minds) and not because we are hateful tyrants here only to make their day the "worst day ever" (which is how they see it and they do make sure we know it too). Being second generation immigrants, they are showered with all the rewards without any awareness of the struggles and sacrifices that preceded them. I can see how easy it is to feel entitled to all these things when it's all that you've ever been exposed to. It's certainly not their fault, but I do feel that it is my responsibility to instill in my children a deep appreciation for what they have, an understanding that they are not entitled to anything, and the desire to bring kindness to the table in everything they say and do in life. That's not too much to strive for, right? Personally, it's daunting and sometimes feels hopeless (like when they're complaining about a meal I just spent 2 hours prepping and cooking, or throwing a fit because screen time is over, or complaining about picking up their own toys), but I can only keep trying.
With the hope of practicing kindness and being mindful of our actions toward others, this is how we are using our Advent calendar this Christmas.
>> Each day, each one of us (mommy and daddy included) will do at least one nice thing for someone else.. something that doesn't benefit us directly in any way. It doesn't need to be a grand gesture. Small and simple are just as grand when they're genuine acts of kindness.
>> We'll write them down on these little slips of "happy heart" papers that I made and will talk about them at dinner time. We'll put them in the drawers for each day.
>> Then after Christmas, we can pull all the pieces out and reflect on all the things we chose to do to for others and how they made our hearts happy.
Today was Day 1 and already, I'm so proud of the kids. At school, Jax saw a kid on the playground (a student he didn't already know) who looked lonely and he went to play with him. At lunchtime, Kaili's classmate spilled her own lunch and Kaili stepped in to help. Even my youngest, Lexi asked if she could help me load the groceries into the van, and when we got home, she helped me bring groceries into the house. I really hope that this momentum continues! These things may seem small right now, but I'm hoping it's laying the foundation for something greater and lasting in their lives.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?