No one can deny that the meaning of the holidays can easily get lost during this frenetic time of year. All year, it feels as if we are moving ever faster to keep pace with technology and the daily changes in the world around us. Yet that pace only becomes magnified at the holidays. Parents are increasingly worried about "delivering the goods" by bringing home that must-have toy and not disappointing their children. Black Friday sales begin ever earlier (10 pm on the once-sacred Thanksgiving Day), with many deals leaked to generate mass consumerism.
I have to ask, "Isn't there something missing?"
Thankfully, children's joy emanates from the simplest pleasures, which is the antithesis of the commercial aspects of the season. The holidays are meant to be full of miracles, hope, and tradition. Those were the principles on which they began, and are the basis of the stories told generation after generation. Yet in the minds of many, the season has become more synonymous with traffic jams, endless searches for parking, and hordes of pushing and shoving shoppers. Saddest of all, parents are not feeling joy, but tremendous stress at the thought of disappointing children on that special day. This makes what should be a magical time into a competitive, aggravating experience. And that is NOT what the holidays are supposed to be about!
For the children's sake, it is imperative that we parents and grandparents set a good example and instill in them the meaning of the season. Done correctly, this WILL bring cheer to all! And the best news is that implementing these traditions costs little, and is a cinch to execute. All it takes is targeting the basics, and focusing on the simple aspects of celebrations that are most meaningful.
Here are a few of my favorite holiday activities to do with children:
The holiday memories children will carry with them longest will be those of family togetherness, tradition, and giving to others. The holidays should be a reminder to us all that family matters and that we care about each other — with that group extending to all of humanity and those who are less fortunate. That human connection is much more powerful than material gifts, and will endure well past the season.
Grandparents.com columnist Melissa Bernstein is the co-founder and co-CEO (with husband Doug) of Melissa & Doug LLC, a leading designer and manufacturer of educational toys. Started nearly 23 years ago "in a garage" with their combined meager savings, Melissa & Doug has grown to become one of the most trusted names in preschool toys. Melissa lives in Westport, Conn., with her husband, Doug, and their own personal "test market," their six children ages 3 to 17.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.