Developing an Attitude of Gratitude with Your Kids

February 12th, 2013 posted by Jeff Westover

Jerry Seinfeld once recorded a hilarious routine about Halloween as a kid. “Let me see if I get this straight, all I have to do is dress up weird and parade around my neighborhood and people I don’t know will give me candy? For free? I can do that!”

What made that funny to hear is the truth in it. Over this past Halloween weekend, I had my 12-year old daughter Abby take her costumed younger siblings out for a little trick-or-treating. When she returned, her comment summed it all up: “They’re moochers, Dad. Like the ducks at the park, all they have to do is “quack!” and they get fed.” Abby can be a bit wry but her observation was right on the money. The whole exercise is absent of meaning even if it is a fun tradition. It lays the foundation of the “gimme” battle in the weeks ahead for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here are a few ideas of how to develop a gracious attitude for your kids over the holidays without spoiling the fun:

  • Invest some time studying and explaining the origin of our holidays. Thanksgiving is the one holiday almost universal in observance. Most societies celebrate a day of thanks. Many communities have programs, museums have displays and there are usually a number of theatrical productions that can add to your observance of the season. Don’t let the chaos of the season in your life be the only thing they see.

  • Provide service. You don’t have to be active in your Church or march down to the homeless shelter to lend a hand, although those are excellent places to start. Chances are you can find ways to anonymously help a neighbor that can be fun. We take chances on doing small things like raking leaves in the dead of night or other such small but meaningful projects. Even a plate of cookies left as the payoff for some harmless doorbell-ditch can be a fun activity.

  • Change some aspects of your traditions. At Thanksgiving, we might fast for two meals before our traditional dinner and then give what money we would have spent on food (or, the food itself) to a worthy cause. On Christmas Eve, we will have the kids write thank you notes to Santa and stuff them in their stockings before going to bed. It doesn’t have to be something huge to help make the holiday meaningful.

This holiday season don’t just observe these special days. Actively pursue them. The traditions we develop now with our kids will likely be carried on to their children. Making these days memorable versus just making them grand will help to make holiday traditions meaningful in the future.

Jeff Westover (1 Posts)

Jeff Westover is a freelance writer and father of seven from Salt Lake City, Utah. He is the managing editor of My Merry, where folks have been making merry online for more than a decade. He writes about holidays, families, parenting, home schooling and photography for a variety of publications both online and offline. Please visit My Merry Christmas for more articles like this one.

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