Christmas, I remember as a kid, always used to be something really magical.
I remember the eager anticipation of Father Christmas to leave presents in my stockings on Christmas Eve. While we had all the family gifts under the tree, each of us also had a stocking hanging from the fireplace lintel. And somehow by the morning those we always full of small treats that simply must have come from Father Christmas himself!
Wow, that was so exciting!
And there was also a bit of tension to it. Had we kids been good enough through the year to receive Christmas gifts? Of would we just receive a lump of coal or bag of salt for our naughtiness.
All of us kids would be secretly wondering and hoping for the best.
That bit of uncertainty added yet more magic and mystique to the whole event. It was not just a "given" that there would be heaps of presents on Christmas day - Santa really did check his list twice!
And isn't that how it should be? Christmas isn't supposed to be just one more hectic day where everyone just gets stressed and harassed. Don't you wish your children could experience the same wonder and magic that you remember from your own childhood?
So what happened?
Where once the focus was on giving and loving, on camaraderie, joy, and goodwill, it seems now to have been replaced with tinny muzak and an incessant commercialism. Remember Carol Singing? People went door to door to sing carols, bring joy, and collect for charity - not themselves as at hallowe'en.
Instead of focusing on the giving, producing a sense of wellbeing, the never-ending commercials would have us focus on the getting - producing just big debts and more stress.
And for all the temporary excitement of unwrapping them, it seems to me that so much more has been lost. The magic. The wonder. The awe. The love.
Well, what about this year bucking the trend. Instead of spending more and more, how about taking some time out to focus on making Christmas something special for just you and your children. Instead of heaps of presents they will play with for a day, give them something they will remember for decades. Here are some ideas:
Check your local paper for events that you could go to. Maybe a Christmas show.
Or maybe go to a carols by candlelight service.
Drive around town together and look at the Christmas lights on people's houses. Have a vote between you all on which house is the best. Then finish off with some hot chocolate and a cinnamon bun.
Make some gingerbread cookies together - or even get really ambitious and make a full gingerbread house! Yes, it will take some time, but the children will remember it forever - much longer than the battery powered all- walking all-talking gizmo they "desperately need".
If you have snow nearby, go sledding, or have a snowball fight - or try to build an igloo (this was a family tradition each year when we lived in PEI, Canada). The goal, remember, is to LAUGH together.
In the evenings, instead of turning on the TV, get out a board game, play charades, or work on a jigsaw puzzle together.
Get in a classic Christmas movie - Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or the new Santa Clause series with Tim Allen playing a wonderful Santa.
Then, when Christmas finally arrives, take time to savor it. Instead of a mad scramble to open all the presents in the quickest time possible, how about taking them one at a time - handing them out to each member of the family so everyone can delight in them.
And, if you really must use your computer - well, why not have Santa Claus send your children a free, colorful email greeting from the North Pole? You can set that up at:
http://good-child-guide.com/email_from_santa/ (And you will get some free gifts for yourself too).
Above all, make it your goal, this year, to make Christmas a magical memory - a time that will draw you all closer together as a family, and that your children will remember for decades to come. Just as I still remember my Christmases in Holland, so many years ago.
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Delorus Quintal is editor for Hot Christmas! where you can read more tips and suggestions to make your Christmas truly special. Go here to schedule an email from Santa Claus for your kids.
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