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Teach the Gift of Giving – Part 1

By Denise Spatafora
December 5, 2008
File under: Family Time, holidays


The upcoming holiday season will be filled with many memories.  What are the memories and experiences you want to have and you want your children to have in the next few weeks?

We can begin creating and defining what the holidays mean to us and our children through rituals, celebrations and even ceremonies.  To begin designing “rituals” for your children at this special time can make all the difference in not only your family’s experience of the holidays but really becoming clear about what is most important to you.  When I refer to designing rituals, I truly mean inventing what is reflective of what is important to you.  Here are some ideas that we have begun in our family:


We take off for the day and head to a tree farm to cut down our Christmas Tree.  Part of this day includes conversations about what this year has been about, what we are most proud of, what were our disappointments, what did we learn, what do we need to apologize for, what or who do we need to acknowledge, what are we upset about, what was most fun—it is a powerful intimate conversation and really has us understand each other even better.  We always have a great time picking out the perfect tree, fullness and of course the perfect smell.  We bring back a few cut pieces of wood that were at the base of some of the trees, spray them down with water when we get home and it fills our home naturally of the intoxicating smell of evergreen.  That smell alone elicits the memory of getting our tree each year and all that goes with it.


We clean through all our toys and clothes and decide what we would like to donate to those families here in our city that we know are less fortunate.  We have researched a few organizations and we locate a few families that we want to sponsor at this time.  We learn their names and make them holiday cards that will go with all we are giving them. Sometimes, we will make a batch of sugar cookies to go with it all – some of our favorites – and have a few along the way of course!!

It has been a great joy to watch our kids gather their things knowing that they were fortunate to have them and now that we are passing them on to people who can enjoy them and are less fortunate than us.  It helps the kids realize how much we have, not just materially but that we have a home, we have a bathroom in our home, we have running water, we have our eyesight, we have our health, we can walk—a sense of true gratitude for all we experience.

My mother was born and raised in Italy and I was raised as a first generation Italian—we all worked very hard for everything we had.  Even though we have more now than when I did when we were growing up, I want to ensure that our family/children are aware to what is going on with many people around the world, a global holistic viewpoint like my mother provided for me.  Some of the families we have given to come from other countries so we have taken the initiative to learn about their country, their culture,  some of their rituals and celebrations around the holidays.

.Check back on Monday for more ideas for holiday rituals

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