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Making the Holidays Memorable When You Can Only Afford to Give Them Love

December 21st, 2016     By Boys Town Contributor

Family, Parent-Child Relationships

It can be tough during the holidays when you have young children who want a toy or game they see on television or in the hands of friends and schoolmates, and you can’t afford to give it to them.

In situations such as these, it’s crucial to teach your children that there are more important things in life than just “things.”

Putting ‘Things’ in Perspective

To help your children understand this concept, show them that certain activities can make them just as happy as receiving gifts:

  • Reward your child with time and attention. Attention and time spent with Mom and Dad are what young children crave most, so, rather than spending time buying and wrapping up extra toys, read your child an extra story at bedtime, play a board game together or invite a friend to come over to play.
  • If you volunteer with an organization, you could use this time of year to show your child that they may have more to be grateful for than they are aware of. Ask your child to volunteer with you. It is easier for children to put things in perspective when they can participate in giving back.

Family Activities Create Long-Lasting Memories

“We didn’t have much . . . But we were happy because we had each other.”

If you have grandparents or great-grandparents, you’ve probably heard some variation of this statement. It was a common refrain of the Greatest Generation, who grew up during the Great Depression, when most people really did have nothing to give but their love and time. When teaching your child to appreciate love and time in lieu of material possessions, consider the following activities:

  • Memory Mosaics: Create a gallery of memories from the past year on your child’s bedroom wall. Help your child choose photos or create drawings to illustrate your best family moments.
  • Love Notes: Throughout the holiday season, hide a few notes of praise in places where your child will find them. When you get together for meals over the holiday break, share your love notes with each other.
  • Family Tree: Help your child learn about your family history by making family tree ornaments that they can use as decorations during the holidays.
  • Cook Together: Ask your children to name their favorite family holiday foods. Then, set aside special time throughout the holiday break to prepare those foods together.

Depending on their age, children can be surprisingly resilient and understanding when you explain to them that you may not be able to afford to buy them exactly what they want for Christmas. You can even turn the situation on its head by enlisting their help in coming up with homemade alternatives to store-bought gifts.

Regardless of how you approach it, if you can teach them to be grateful for what they have rather than envy others for what they don’t have, they’ll take that lesson to heart and likely grow up to be much happier as adults, too.

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