Give Your Children the Gift of Time This Holiday Season.
The Holiday Season is quickly upon us and parents are struggling to find the time, money and ideas as to what to get loved ones. There is a distinct difference between need and want. What your children want versus what they need are two very distinctive things. Working with at- risk youth, I see first -hand the stress and anxiety in some of our families at this time of the year. Statements like-“ I don’t know what to get my children, I feel awful we don’t have any extra money to get our children anything, and I don’t know how I am going to find the time to get all of this done is expressed through my office daily.
As a parent/family you will always be your children’s favorite gift. Your PRESENCE NOT PRESENTS is what they need and will cherish. Time = love, your time and emotional investment into your children are the greatest gifts you can give them. Does the phrase – “money can’t but love” resonate with you? Our children don’t need another game, sweatshirt or useless toy- they need you, the parents, invested in their lives. Your number one time priority should always be on your family. A true investment into your children is giving them your undivided time, attention, focus and love.
As a society we need parents to give their time- attention and focus to their kids today more than ever. Trust me in 20 years your children will not remember what gift you gave them this Christmas – they will however never forget the times and memories you shared. This is why Holiday traditions are so memorable and priceless- kids will never ever forget your traditions you shared in your family. Each family has unique holiday traditions that make them special. I honestly can’t remember one gift my grandmother ever gave me- but making cookies listening to Jingle Bell Rock on her record player are forever etched in me. What I would do to have one more of those days with her.
There are so many things you can do with your children that do not involve any money at all. A few examples that are absolutely free are:
• Read a book together
• Talk a walk around the neighborhood as a family
• Put a puzzle together
• Play Tic –Tac –Toe
• Cook or bake together
• Color pictures together
• Create a family scavenger hunt
• Create a coupon book – e.g. dad will play a game of your choice
• Create a blessing bowl- as a family list all the things you are grateful for and place them in a bowl
• Go to the library together
• Take pictures as a family together
As my wife always tells me giving experiences versus gifts are way more meaningful. Your children will never forget experiences! Experiences equal time and memories. If you can financially afford to give your child experiences versus gifts the following are some examples:
• Take them bowling
• Take them roller skating
• Take them on vacation
• Take them skiing
• Take them to see their favorite college or pro team play.
• Take them to see a musical
• Take them to a waterpark
• Take them to the movies
• Purchase Art or music lessons
• Take them to Car races or monster truck shows
• Take them to get a Pedicure
• Take them Horseback riding
Time and Focus on Others – make this a time to teach your family to focus on and serve others. Use your family time to make someone else’s life better. A motto we are adopting is “Spend Less. Give More.” Christmas is a great time to put our call to serve and focus on others into action.
• Adopt a family – Take gifts, cookies or even throw a Christmas party for a family in need. Do this as a family, and let your kids help with the shopping.
• Give Life – Did you know you can give a family in need a goat, ducks, medical supplies, clean water and hope? World Vision produces their Christmas catalog where you can help families who have little in third world countries.
• Blessing Bags – Help the homeless! Buy supplies, make cards and put together homeless packs that are vital to their survival. Distribute the blessing bags to the homeless in your community.
• Serve at your local Food Kitchen- donate your time to serve
• Stuff a Stocking – SOAR International sends stuffed stockings to children in need in third world countries.
• Adopt a Soldier – Find a soldier to adopt over the holidays. Send letters and care packages.
• Help Foster Children – Contact your local foster child program to see if there are ways you can provide a stuffed animal, clothes or back packs filled with activities for a child who comes into their system with nothing.
• Christmas Cookie Delivery – Make up a bunch of Christmas cookies and pass out on the streets as a random act of kindness.
• Give to Your Local Food Bank – The food banks have a high need during the holiday times. Consider giving over the holidays or throughout the year.
• Invite People Into Your Home – There are many people without a family this Christmas. You might know a widow, a single mom or dad, a single person, a college student, or someone in the military who you can invite into your home. You can be the family that they don’t have.
• Visit your local nursing homes- there are so many lonely and shut in at nursing homes. All these people want is your time – someone to visit with them.
• Visit Children’s Hospital- there are so many families fighting great battles in there- spread a little generosity and cheer. Drop off some baked goods, gift cards, gas cards or toys.
• Visit your local Cancer unit- Cancer is a horrific disease that affects so many. Drop off candy canes, homemade Christmas Cards, cookies and simply give them a note of encouragement.
I want to take this time to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. I challenge you to focus on helping others by giving them your time, attention and support. Make this your New Year’s resolution – give your time to others. The greatest gift you can give someone is yourself. PRESENCE NOT PRESENTS! May your focus be simply caring and sharing your time and love this holiday season.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Superintendent Foxfire Schools