After my experience last week of Black Friday and Cyber week I realised that for me the true spirit of Christmas is being overshadowed by the material consumerism. I decided to take some time and think about (a) how to bring about my child-like wonder and magic of Christmas, and (b) the true meaning of Christmas and the values it brings to the time of year.
I feel that now that I have my own family I needed to have some guidelines to follow. I didn’t want the true Christmas message to disappear and so I created a Christmas holiday values manifesto that I will pull out each year. The list will be something we can refer to as a family when the children are older. For now they would be held by myself and my husband.
Our Christmas Holiday values manifesto
We will make Christmas meaningful and about more than material gifts and treats. We will teach our children the true meaning of Christmas as well as the spiritual values that we have around this time. With the hectic pace of everyday life Christmas will be a time where we slow down, unwind and appreciate what we have in our lives.
We will acknowledge that the importance of family, friends, giving and gratitude, and caring about the world around us is the biggest gift that we as parents can give our children.
We will also:
Share the true message – The story of Jesus’s birth, retelling the story and having festive decorations and ornaments that symbolise the Christmas story: a nativity set, books with the Christmas story. We will do this so that we remember the essence of the Christmas story.
Spending time together as a family – Not booking in too much; keeping it simple; share the reasons why we love each other and value each other; have fun together by playing games and watching movies; have more relaxation, and take time to eat together as a family and go out together as a family over this holiday period.
Teaching and practicing gratitude – Take time to appreciate all that we have; share what we are grateful for, not just at Christmas but throughout the year. Inspire our children to be thankful for all the wonderful gifts they have received at this time and also to be thankful for the non-material gifts they are blessed with such as family and friends.
Spread Christmas joy with Random acts of kindness – Practice giving and sharing with people we know and don’t know, to our friends and charities that give to people in need. Make an effort to appreciate friends and family not just through gifts but thoughtful acts.
Slow and simple – Decrease stress and Christmas anxiety by remembering to stop, pause, and breathe. Let us appreciate the simple things in life and slow down and take stock of what the values of Christmas are all about.
What family values do you wish to share at Christmas time? The website I used to get organised last year and which has a guide to help each year to keep your values in check is Organised Christmas.
Here are some questions from their worksheet:
What values will your family’s celebration serve? Bring the season into focus by answering these questions about last year’s events. Use a second sheet to record responses from a family meeting.
1. What went well for your family last year? Did you make innovations that made you more organized, calmer, and more centered?
2. What stresses did your family face? Were there too many activities on the calendar? Did household systems fall apart with the season’s faster pace?
3. Was your family spiritually invigorated by the holiday celebration? Did you participate in appropriate service, worship or giving activities?
4. Did inappropriate influences enter your home? Were decorating, clothing or gift-buying decisions motivated by competitiveness or insecurity? Was the celebration over-focused on gifts and getting? Did the hectic pace of the season take precedence over family closeness, family values?
5. What would you have done differently?
Next time I will be looking at the Christmas holiday traditions we have and would like to focus on. These new traditions will be created from our heart and carried forward each year bringing a sense of meaning and spirituality that can often get lost in the external pressures of Christmas.