What should we model for our kids over the holiday season? Is it the materialism of present giving? Is it to watch us stress over party preparation? Is it the happiness of vacation? I think not. While parties, presents and vacation are lovely experiences, they are not a path to long term happiness. The true messages released by the spirit of the holiday season should be taught.
From Thanksgiving until New Years Day, we as Americans celebrate many different traditions that are both secular and religious in nature brought here from all over the world. These traditions have common themes of rebirth, spiritual renewal, giving thanks, loving others above self and much more.
I often hear that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season becomes more of a stressor than a pleasure. It does not have to be so. The guiding principle for us should be seen through the wonder of a child’s eyes. Kids love the holidays. They cannot wait for this season. The spirit of Christmas and Hanukkah are so special when visualized through a child’s mind. The wonder of God. The utter joy of being with family to play, love and live. The wonderful meals eaten eaten together. The traditions that remain in their mind even when they are 48 and graying.
Leading by example is the best way to teach your child.
Look at your child’s happiness and innocence while experiencing the holidays. See the twinkle in their eye when they think of what is coming. Sit and meditate on what you personally loved about this time of year. Think of old and new traditions that could make this holiday special. Whether it is an elf on a shelf, daily family Lego build, visiting a soup kitchen, visiting a loved one’s grave, watching “Home Alone,” service to others, and so much more, we can make this time special.
My family traditions are still engraved in my mind. Growing up in New York and New Jersey, my family had a beautiful tradition of placing an extra place setting for anyone who happened to come to visit whether they are a friend or foe on Christmas eve. It was discussed every year as if we all needed a refresher on why this would be so. The act of forgiveness was paramount. This made no sense to me as a young child, yet I listened. What the elders of my family were doing was leading by example. Over time, I learned that we all need to forgive others and live with all Americans regardless of race or creed.
Last year, my wife, kids and I celebrated Hanukkah with some dear friends and experienced their beautiful traditions through their eyes with nothing but open eyes and minds. It was a fabulous experience. It seems to me that the more we as Americans experience other’s views of the world, the better off we will be on a day to day basis.
My holiday wishes for you all are these:
1) I pray that we are motivated to be healthful
2) I hope that we laugh often
3) I wish for us all to make choices that benefit our souls and that of our children regardless of the cost and oblivious to judgement
4) I want us to be alive with clean air, clean water and clean, minimally processed organic food
5) I desire that we all obtain a peaceful mind that forgives and loves before it begrudges and hates
6) I aspire to see everyone prosper in the ways that fill our soul’s well so that when our day comes we are content with a life well lived
7) I dream that we are neither desirous of praise nor paralyzed by criticism
8) I believe that we can progress day to day without blaming others while taking ownership for our failings. An extreme ownership mentality
9) I hope that hard work becomes our motto as it leads to self worth, self esteem and communal fortitude
10) A society that achieves the understanding of the gifts provided during the holiday season is well on its way to happiness
God bless you all,
Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at email@example.com