How can we teach our kids to have grateful hearts? How do we maintain an attitude of gratitude during the holiday season? Read on for a few tips to cultivate thankfulness in your family…and your heart!
My kids have gotten hold of the Christmas toy sales paper and have been busy circling everything they want this year, which is pretty much everything in the paper unless it is blatantly for babies.
They want it all, y’all.
I remember doing the same. My sisters and I used to pour over the Sears Wish Book every year. We each had our own color marker for circling so Santa would know who wanted what.
I can imagine it’s my mother’s expression on my face every time I answer the question, “Can I have this?”
Really? You want the Disney Princess Carriage AND the Frozen Sleigh?
Yeah. That’ll happen.
I try not to be annoyed by what is really just excitement on their part, but sometimes, I just want to say, “Can’t you just be grateful for what you already have?”
And then I hear the Spirit say the same thing to me.
- “You don’t need a new coffee maker.”
- “Your phone works just fine.”
- “A perfect family photo doesn’t make a perfect family.”
The list goes on. Mainly little things I don’t focus on each day, but if I were to start making a Christmas list, I might not be any better than my kids. After all, it’s simple human nature to want what we don’t have.
So we long for things we don’t have and forget to enjoy the things we do.
And, it’s not just things, is it?
As the holidays approach, my sisters and I text back and forth, trying to navigate the endless maze of family gatherings. “If we do this then, we can do that next.” With our parents divorced, sorting out our schedule was difficult enough before everyone got married and families extended and kids came into the picture. It’s nearly impossible now.
To be honest, it’s tempting to complain and be frustrated and dread the drawn-out holidays ahead.
When I feel that way, only gratitude can change my attitude.
Make a Gift List instead of a Wish List
To start with, I need to stop focusing on the frustrations and be thankful for my family. I need to sip my coffee and be grateful my almost 15-year-old Krups is still kicking.
My kids need to stop and give thanks, too.
One of the ways, we can do this is by making a gift list instead of a wish list. This week, we’ll be counting our blessings and actually writing them down. It’s hard to focus on what you don’t have when you’re completely overwhelmed by what you do.
Give instead of Get
Our church always packs boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and my kids enjoy choosing gifts to include in each box. This year, I think we’ll take it a bit further and start focusing more on what we can give, rather than what we’ll get.
There are so many opportunities to help others. Sometimes, we join others from our church and deliver meals on Thanksgiving and on Christmas Day, taking time to focus on others rather than ourselves and our own family.
Remember the Reason for the Season
In a world filled with Santa and reindeer and snowmen, it’s easy to get all the way to Christmas without ever focusing on Christ.
Don’t do it! (I’m telling myself that every bit as much as I’m telling you.)
Take time to talk with your kids about Christ. Focus your family’s gatherings on grace. If you need some help, I’ve written 25 Daily Family Devotions for the month of December, and each one has suggestions for personal and family worship and activities. (You can also get the full month-long devotional book on Amazon.)
It’s the best way to stay grateful this holiday season because Jesus is the greatest reason for gratitude.
We won’t worry as much about the state of our homes when we remember Christmas started in a stable.
Maybe I won’t complain as much about having to travel when I think of Mary’s weary ride to Bethlehem.
My kids might not need so many gifts when I tell them about the greatest one ever given.
Be sure to check out 25 Daily Family Devotions for the Month of December. I hope it will encourage you and your family this season. I’d love to hear how you teach your kids to be grateful, as well as tips for cultivating a heart of gratitude yourself. Leave a comment and let me know what you suggest!
Today, I’m over at JustASimpleHome.com sharing 5 Easy Ways to Simplify the Season. I hope you’ll pop over and check it out. The post is part of a 30-Day Holiday Party to help you slow down and savor the season. You’ll find some wonderful posts by some amazing bloggers!