It’s almost Christmas and I have diligently started decorating the tree, eating pandoro and buying the presents.
Then a call from my mother.
“Are we going to church on Christmas Eve?”
I am not religious really, at least I haven’t gone to a Mass since my Confirmation (or the goodbye sacrament, as it called from my whereabouts) still, her question made me wonder again what Christmas is all about.
The true meaning of the festivity is the celebration of Jesus Christ, no doubt about that.
And what is the purpose of Christmas for someone who does not believe in Jesus? What is the sense of it for a Muslim? What is the plan for Christmas for a poor person?
What does a mother wish for Christmas for her kids?
As a mother, I do wish many things, some of them clashing with the other:
+ I’d like them to have the toys they want but don’t want them to be spoiled;
+ I’d like them to be self-disciplined and then clean up the mess myself in their playroom;
+ I’d like them to be respectful and then send them off to the sofa even if they have not finished their lunch.
What if, instead of pressure myself towards material objects and other tangible things, I’d start to wish something simpler, more expectant?
What if, for a change, this year I’ll start to teach them gratitude and brush up the skill for myself too? Gratitude is a gift that you can receive and give at the same time.
Christmas is the perfect time of the year to take the time to fulfil such a promise: and remember, Elves from outside the windows will notice too, All.Year.Around.
There are millions of way for reminding us to express gratitude and the best one to teach your children is:
Lead by example.
The best way to teach your kids to grow a kind heart is to show them how to. We cannot expect them to be grateful if we are not. Take some time to explain why you are grateful for your life, your job, your children: you will teach them to make a happy and conscious choice that do not contemplate complaints. Good exercise for grown-ups too.
Always say “Thank you”.
I am sad to see how many children don’t say ‘thank you’, this is such a shame.
Get used talking about what you’re grateful for and don’t take anything for granted. My husband always thanks me for the supper I prepare (lucky gal) and now kids do it too because yes, we moms prepare the food every day as we love our family, still, our gesture should be appreciated it. Remember to express an appreciation for each other’s efforts.
Start with the simple, obvious things.
Get your children know a situation where scarcity rules.
We live in Zürich and I must admit there is a HUGE difference between what you see on the streets here and what you see in Italy. The perception of scarcity is obviously kinda clashing. Still, people in need is everywhere and there is always a way to teach them how to help.
B’s daycare participates in this great initiative of Swiss Post.
You can help with online or post parcels: the first ones are especially welcomed because cash donations enable the Post to buy local products that people urgently need, they support local businesses and avoid the long journeys across Europe, transport costs and customs formalities. Bingo.
Look if there is something similar where you live!
Create your give-back pot.
The idea is to put a container on the table at home (on the desk at the office) and ask the kids to drop in anything that could help someone in need. I found that toys are a good way to teach them the concept, it’s a kid’s soft spot.
Of course, also food can work or clothes, loose change from their savings. When the pot is full, bring it to a charity or hit the street and sell the stuff to people: proceeds can go to someone in need.
Shop with a heart.
This is something I reckon you can start doing when your kids are somewhere older than five years old: I started last year with P.
If you teach your children to shop smart, you will coach them to be socially-conscious shoppers, to be aware of environmentally-friendly materials and, most of all, to look for an ethical fair supply chain: child labour and fair wages are no joke at all.
You can start asking them about where they think their clothes come from. They will tell you mom and day. And that’s a starting point.
Next time you go shopping, you bring them with you (like you have a choice ah!) and ask them how do they think all materials come from.
You can explain some brands are doing better than others.
All this without scaring them in any way, of course. The topic is tragic: if you don’t know much about it, you can start reading this written by The Guardian and you should definitely read Fashion Revolution.
I am interested in fashion so this is a field I particularly care about, like my children. And the two are quite related, you will see.
But remember: dreadfully, you can teach gratefulness, through the supply chain approach, also with food and basically any other kind of manufacture in life.
So, that is it for us.
It is not much but it’s a start. Gratitude is the gift I would like to donate to my family this Christmas and always because this is a sentiment no one will ever take away from them.
I have read a story a long time ago.
Imagine you’re blind and for only ten minutes you’d be able to open your eyes and see what really matters to you.
I bet it won’t be the Christmas gift you have been waiting for this year.