My boys are old enough now to understand how exciting Christmas can be, but the message sometimes becomes a little muddled. It’s easy for them to think it’s all about receiving.
Like many families across the country we started opening our advent calendars yesterday. It’s a nice tradition, but this year I want to add something a little different. Something that we’ll be able to see growing as the advent calendars empty. That’s why we’ve made a kindness branch.
As they get older I really want to them to think more about others, and what Christmas means (aside from getting presents). We don’t emphasise the religious side of Christmas, but I do want to them to start celebrating something else: kindness. Or more specifically: kindness, generosity and gratitude.
I’ve been trying to think of ways to teach the boys more about kindness and generosity. I don’t want to bully them into behaving thoughtfully with threats or bribery (or that slightly creepy Elf on the Shelf).
This is what we’re going to do:
Every evening after dinner, we’re going to take a few moments to think about what we’ve done that day to help others, or how we’ve been kind – or perhaps simply to think of something we’re thankful for. We’re then going to tie a ribbon onto our kindness branch, which is hanging in the kitchen. If they’d rather not do it one day, then that’s ok – it’s not supposed to be about cajoling them into doing something.
As the weeks go on, it will get prettier and prettier – unlike the advent calendars, which will get tattier, emptier and more forlorn.
I tied together a few pieces of drift wood, but you could bring in some twigs from the garden. You could also just tie your ribbons onto a long hanging thread, or on your bannisters.
I’d love to hear what you think. Do you have any clever ways to teach your children a kinder and more generous way to approach Christmas?