The Real Message of the Holiday Season
By Jane Whitney
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the holiday season, I can’t help wondering if our fast-paced lives are causing kids and parents alike to lose the focus and real message of the holiday season.
Do we get caught up in all the madness instead of the message? What about this holiday season being about giving to others, saying thanks, celebrating family and friends, and appreciating what we have, along with celebrating traditions?
Despite our busy lives, you can still see generosity every day; countless people give their time and money to charities and other noble causes. Children also amaze me with their generosity and giving nature. My mother took two young boys from a financially disadvantaged home to the zoo for the afternoon. At the end of the outing, she gave each boy five dollars to spend in the zoo gift shop. After they wandered around for some time, she realized that neither boy had selected anything to purchase. The boys commented to her that the items in the gift shop were overpriced and that buying something would be a waste of money. My mother and the boys then went to a dollar store. Back in the car, one of the boys presented my mom with a thank-you card that he had bought in the store. His other purchases included candy to share with his siblings at home. The second young boy purchased food items for his family and a toy for his younger sister.
How about if we all focus on generosity and start a new tradition this holiday season?
Give to Others and Say Thanks
- Invite your single or widowed neighbor over for a holiday dinner.
- Offer to help carry packages to someone’s car.
- Allow other cars to merge into traffic.
- Purchase a new toy for a less fortunate child.
- Smile at hurried shoppers.
- Donate blankets to homeless and domestic violence shelters.
- Give your time or some of your holiday money to local charities.
- Show support for our troops, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, day care providers, and postal workers.
Celebrate Family and Friends
- Make and design holiday cards with your kids.
- Bake cookies for your neighbors, teachers, and co-workers.
- Enjoy nature by going on a hayrack ride.
- Let go of past grudges, and truly forgive friends and family.
- Thank your family, friends and co-workers for being your support network.
- Tell someone “I love you.”
- Teach children that giving is more important than receiving gifts.
One of the best gifts I ever received was from my younger sister when she was about eight years old and I was ten. The elementary school we attended was having a craft fair just for children to do their holiday shopping. When we got to the fair, my sister and I split up to do our shopping. On our walk home my sister was clutching her purchase close to her chest and beaming. As we got halfway home my sister blurted out, “Do you want to see what I bought you for Christmas?” As she pulled the gift out of her bag I realized she had only purchased one item, and it was for me. To this day when I think of that decorative owl pillow, it just melts my heart to think that despite the sibling rivalry and arguments we had as children, my sister truly loved me and thought to pick out a gift for me that she had chosen all on her own.
This season let’s appreciate what we have. Be thankful for your health, your freedom and country, your community, and nature. Say a prayer for others who are less fortunate.
When we start to get overloaded this year, let’s all take a moment to focus on the real message of the holiday season. It’s about gratitude and giving!