Do you remember being a child at Christmas? I remember the overwhelming sense of fun and possibility — anything could happen at anytime. There might be a party or extra cookies. Lights twinkle in the neighborhood and the music around us is lighter and familiar. People smile more and the world is a bit more kind.
We all want our children to enjoy a magical holiday season and Christmas day. As mothers, we are often the keepers of tradition. We are the ones who establish the atmosphere in our homes and our children look toward us to reflect the joy in their own lives. Mom, you have the position to shape your child’s experience through the memories they will carry of this season. You will frame the way they think of Christmas for the rest of their lives!
Your preschooler won’t remember if your tree was real or artificial, but they will remember the glow of twinkling lights as you settle down each evening. Let the kids be as hands-on as possible so that the tree feels personal. For school aged children, the stories read year after year will become traditions, just like the movies we watch. Christmas baking and seasonal songs, simple crafts, silly games and an advent calendar provide points of connection that will last long after the decorations are packed away. Even teens hold tightly to the Christmas traditions we established as a family. Annual light shows, community events and the parties we host mark the holiday season. Decorating a gingerbread house is still cherished activity every year.
It does take extra effort, thought and energy — sometimes extra money — but these moments are investments into the fabric of our family memories. Here are some simple ways we have created memories:
- December Advent Calendar. Every day we read an inspirational quote and open a door with small prizes or activities. My children are teens now, and it remains their favorite of all our Christmas traditions. Side note: they receive the same, recycled reindeer antlers and cocoa mugs every year. We rotate which child gets to open the door and read the quote. We take time for packing a bag to give the needy one night and to play “Christmas Bingo” another night.
- Lots of Lights. To me, nothing says “Christmas Magic” like sparkly lights. We put them in the bedrooms, kitchen, living room and on the shrubs outside. I’m not decorating for show but for our family to enjoy. So I try to be loose-handed and include them in the process. I endure the obnoxious dancing snowman music player and old fashioned stuffed animals. Fun is a key factor at Christmas time and keeping things low-key instead of fussy allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable season, especially with children.
- Celebrate Togetherness. Make it a special treat to sit down in the evening with a Christmas book and hot chocolate. Select a fun Christmas movie to watch together. Make a Christmas date alone with your child. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, enjoy being together and making memories. The intentional of being together is what makes the magic come alive.
- Add Meaning to the Memories. To young minds, the Christmas story played out visually makes a big impact. Your children will remember the events more if they can “witness” a live nativity, Mary and Joseph in a stable, angels and animals in action. There are opportunities to serve or to select gifts for those in need. Let your children be a part of this. As they get older, lead them to participate in delivering food baskets, purchasing for a child in need or putting care packages together. We like to deliver homemade baked goods to our elderly neighbors. Looking out for others will deepen the meaning of the holiday.
I know firsthand that you may not feel like the Christmas Queen. End of the day exhaustion may seem to trump a baking session or Christmas craft. Like me, you may feel drained physically, mentally or emotionally. Perhaps all three. It’s likely that money is tight because of the extra December expenses. There are lots of excuses, but even more reasons to be intentional about providing a memorable and meaningful holiday season for our children.
It is a trap to feel like you have to do everything. Give yourself a gift by choosing just a few things that can be repeated year after year. Your smile, your joy and your love are the secret ingredients that light up the holiday in your home. It’s worth the effort and the bonding fun lasts a lifetime. There is magic in every Christmas season. Mom, you are the one who knows how to bring it to your kiddos.