In the hustle and bustle all around us, stay focused with these words of wisdom.
Christmas is always special, but when there are children in your house it’s even more special. You want your kids to live it to the fullest. You want it to be their best memory when they look back, and you want them to enter into the light of that mystery in their own small way.
I don’t have the secret recipe, but as a mother I’ve set myself the goal of stopping some bad habits and starting new good ones. Resolutions which, when I go back and read them well, aren’t good only for children; but could also help adults to recover the slowness of Advent and the beauty of Christmas.
1Don't turn Advent into waiting in the checkout line at Walmart or Target
Let’s not take our children to shopping malls during the holidays—or at least not on Sundays of Advent—where they will breathe in the frenzy of a commercialized Christmas. I want my children to experience a different kind of Advent, one that would be good for me, too. In the meantime, try to buy what you need during the week, without children in tow. Don’t spend Sundays running around in the shops and malls: let us wait for Jesus’ coming in the warmth of our home and our family, not at the cash registers of department stores.
2Kindness in word and deed, not only on the morning of the 25th
At Christmas — or rather in the period leading up to Christmas — no one looks anyone else in the face. There’s no time; we’re in a hurry. We have to keep track of a thousand things. All the shoppers are competing to buy the same trendy products, and it can feel like a race. We create chaos rummaging through piles of clothes at stores; by the end of the day it looks like a tornado passed through. We forget to say please and thank you to those who are helping us. Meanwhile, our children are watching us, at Christmas as throughout the year, and gratitude, kindness, and education aren’t limited to any season of the year. We need to put people at the center, not things, even (especially) before the 25th of December.
3It’s nice to sacrifice something to give to others, but not just things we don’t want anymore
At Christmas, it’s natural to think of those who have less than we do, and to give to those in need. “Sure,” we might say, “but not the new gadget or game that I just got as a gift. I’ll enjoy that first. Maybe I’ll manage to give something in very good condition, but not still in the box.” In short, we’re willing to give something that we don’t want anymore, that we won’t even notice we don’t have: so what kind of sacrifice is that? Let’s teach our children to make valuable sacrifices, not empty gestures. Sacrifices are such, precisely because they cost us something. Let’s choose a toy or two of the new ones or let’s go buy them and wrap them up together. Giving is never easier than at Christmas. At this time of year, it’s almost natural, but even so, it’s always something that costs effort, and that’s exactly why it brings joy!
4It's nice to do some things only once a year
When I was a kid, I waited to watch Home Alone all year round. They used to televise it almost always at Christmas, and I looked forward to it so much. There are things and traditions that should be left for Christmas, because I believe that nothing gives the little ones a sense of expectation like opening up a window of the Advent calendar every day. They, who can’t even wait for their mother to leave the bathroom, have to wait 24 days! But if we know how to make those days unique and special, our kids will be enthused to wait for them again.
In addition to the calendar, we can set up the Nativity scene day by day, figure after figure, putting in the baby Jesus last. We can do an Advent novena with short readings and reflections for children. We can also watch holiday movies, make cookies that we only eat at this time of year, and read books on the Christmas story.