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This is a guest post from Merrawyn, a single mom of three girls who inspire, teach, and humble her on a daily basis! Before becoming a mother Merrawyn worked as a preschool teacher and later went on to become an elementary teacher! If you are interested in reading more, you can visit her blog at www.parentingpuhlease.com.
What creates a true “Christmas Spirit?”
Christmas is just around the corner and I have been thinking about all the fun activities that our family will do once again.
However, this year, I have decided to be more conscious about getting my girls to serve others and think outside of themselves. So today we will talk all about ways that kids can help others at Christmas and what better way to start off then to talk about a Christmas Classic that every child seems to love. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
If you haven’t read or watched this holiday classic, it is a story of a young boy who has started to doubt the existence of Santa. On the night of Christmas Eve, the boy wakes to find a train stop in front of his home, that is traveling to the North Pole to meet Santa. Chris is invited to join in on the adventure. With a bit of hesitancy the boy climbs aboard to experience a magical night – a once in a lifetime opportunity – as he travels to the North Pole where he will see Santa.
The boy makes new friends who teach him valuable lessons that focus on leadership, friendship, kindness and believing in something that we can’t always see or prove. The reason I absolutely love this book/movie doesn’t have anything to do with trying to convince my children that Santa exists, but rather the lesson it teaches about finding the true Spirit of Christmas.
As a child I think it was easy for me to feel the pure joy and magic that Christmas always brought because it was easy to believe in the awe and wonder in the simple-ness that the season brings.
The twinkling lights, the Christmas carols and songs that brighten the room, and the happiness that comes as everyone seems to wish you Happy Holidays wherever you go!! I remember the feeling of anxious excitement to learn which presents would be waiting under the tree when my brother and I woke on Christmas morning – knowing that Santa had visited. My childhood memories still bring back delight and happiness.
But, like Chris from the Polar Express, my feelings of Christmas Spirit changed as I grew older. Truly it seems to be hit or miss.
Where Are You Christmas?
I have always wondered what happened to those feelings I felt in childhood – where I’d feel the spirit of Christmas every year.
On the years I have not felt it, I have sadly wondered where it had gone. Through much reflection I learned that those feelings of Christmas spirit come as I focus on the story of Christ’s birth and His life. The scripture stories about Jesus Christ help us to learn about faith, love, hope, everlasting life, joy, kindness, and teaches us to truly believe in something that the world so willingly tries to lead us to believe is wrong. I have come to find that I can always, always, always feel the spirit of Christmas when I choose to follow in the Savior’s path and serve others around me.
The service I am talking about does not come through the huge acts of service that are always so readily there for us to do but in looking across the street at our neighbors. It is finding the time to truly pray and learn who we need to serve and who needs to be reminded that they are loved that lives within our community. Our focus to find the spirit of Christmas needs to come from an attitude of service and a message to others that God has not forgotten them but always loved and remembered them.
Sometimes it’s really hard to think of ways to serve others when we have little kids at home. But, after some trial and error my girls and I were able to dive deep into giving to others as we took a challenge last Christmas to Light The World with 25 days of meaningful but simple acts of service. I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways with you:
10 Ways for Kids to Serve Others at Christmas
I loved how simple these activities were and I absolutely cherished the feeling; the magic and awe of Christmas, as we did them. So without further ado, here are our top 10 ways to share the love of Christ with others this Christmas season with young children at home.
1 – Take candy canes to your child’s pre-school class or play group– Little children love to get simple treats and gifts. Have you seen the video of the girl who was given a paperclip and found pure joy from it?! This is totally that thing. Children don’t need grand they cherish the thought of whatever they are given!! We took them to dance class and the little girls were all so tickled pink to be able to take a treat home with them after class.
2 – Visit grandparents or the Elderly– We live far from family and so it is difficult for us to be able to see grandparents anytime we want. However, in the community where we live we have complexes for Seniors and so we were able to knock on their doors and sing the two Christmas carols the girls knew (at the age of 2 and 4) to these grandparents. Want to see pure joy?? Take your littles to visit the Elderly.
3 – Leave a treat for the mailman– Who doesn’t like getting a gift or a token of appreciation?? We go to a post office for our mail so it was so fun being able to slip something into our mailbox and know that the mail lady would get it when she went to put mail into the slot. Instead of giving mail she would be getting mail!! The girls giggled as the sneakily put their candy treat in the mail box.
4 – Give a Gift Card to a Cashier– If you are anything like me then you might just actually frequent the same stores over and over to the point that the cashiers start to recognize your face… or wait this might just have something to do with living in a small town!! ha ha. Whatever the case, being able to slip that favorite cashier a gift card for a cup of Coffee/ Hot Chocolate just because will truly brighten their day.
5 – Skype/ FaceTime Family Members– Remember how I mentioned before that our family lives far away?? Well what better gift can we give to others especially with littles is to Skype/ FaceTime them!! My girls love being the center of attention and practice cool tricks or dance moves to show on FaceTime to family members. Or if I am feeling really organized I will have them sing a Christmas carol that I have taught them!! Jingle Bells is a Great one and We Wish You a Merry Christmas!! If you want one that is Christ centered you could also sing part of Away in a Manger or Silent Night!
6 – Make Cookies and Bring Them to a Friend– I don’t know about your kids, but my girls absolutely love to bake. They have their own special aprons and hats they wear. So, we bake cookies together and then pray about a friend or neighbor who might need them. It’s really so fun to go deliver freshly baked cookies that are still warm!!
7 – Donate Items to Your Local Food Bank– Kids love going shopping and playing shopping. Make a game of it and fill some bags with cans but let your littles do all the work!! Show them the cupboard they can pick from and let them fill the bags! They will love it and then you can explain where that food goes and how it will help others who are in times of need.
8 – Smile – It kind of sounds silly but have a day where the rule of the family is to smile at everyone they see or meet and even with each other. It truly makes a difference when you choose to be happy and that happiness and joy can spread to others. Be mindful about it and just smile!
9 – Donate clothing to a shelter or a thrift store that is only service run– If you are in the makings to be a minimalist or just trying to clear out some extras before Christmas hits this is a great way to do so!! Take those old winter coats or winter clothes to a shelter where they can be given freely to those who need it or find a thrift store that is locally owned and run! Most of the times, those Mom and Pop type thrift stores are run by service volunteers who are not paid and the money used to sell the second hand items cover just the cost of running shop.
10 – Purchase a picture of Jesus to put in a family member’s room- Sometimes the best place to give service is actually in our own home. Have your children pick pictures of Jesus for each other that can be displayed in their rooms. A great way to teach your children about the love that Jesus has for them is by getting a picture to display in their room. Take your littles to a local Christian bookstore or even look online and let them help you pick a picture that they love! That way they can remember that the spirit of Christmas can live in their hearts each day every day all year round instead of just at Christmas time as they learn to be like Jesus.
Finding the Spirit of Christmas Every Day
Finally, the lesson I have come to learn over the years is we must actively search for the Spirit of Christmas.
Those feelings of magic and love throughout the holiday season come from learning about Jesus and becoming more like Him. It means looking outside of our (and sometimes our family’s) needs and serving those around us.
I have learned that you don’t have to make grand purchases or expensive donations to feel the spirit of Christmas but rather it can come through just finding someone who is having a bad day or needing a reminder that they are not forgotten but loved just for who they are. Being given a reminder that you’re special can make the world of difference and maybe even be what makes a person’s entire Christmas season joyful.
So, if you are looking for some frugal but meaningful ways to serve with your children during the holiday season grab your apron, put a smile on your face, or give away those winter clothes that you love but never actually wear and remember Jesus truly is the reason for the season.