One of the themes very close to our hearts at Making Mindful Children is the idea that life is better when we are mindful of how we are living our lives, the choices that we make and the messages we send our children by doing this.
That is why from time to time you’ll see articles like sole-tasking and recycling glass jars – to get us thinking about making mindful choices in our daily lives rather than doing what we’ve always done without any real purpose or thought behind it.
All families have issues centred on providing our families with material possessions. Most of these are of course very well founded – we need to eat, we need to provide shelter and education, healthcare and many other necessary physical needs. But first world families have a unique problem where ‘needs’ can actually just be ‘wants’. Christmas time is a perfect time to explore this.
As adults it can be easy to assume that children will just understand what Christmas is all about but let’s not fall into that trap. Let’s instead be mindful about how we celebrate Christmas ourselves and purposefully share with them whenever we can that the Christmas tradition is much more than the presents are under the Christmas tree.
Celebrate your own way
If you come from a Christian tradition then you will most likely discuss with your children the original Christmas story and celebrate with some religious significance. If your family has other beliefs then there is much to celebrate about humanity in the Christmas tradition. It is a time to be thoughtful, to be generous, to find joy and beauty in traditions and others’ company and to be grateful for what is important in our lives. These are values children can appreciate if they are thoughtfully included.
Expressions of Love and Gratitude
Time taken for others is always an expression of love – the mere creation of special food and its Christmas presentation is a thing to be grateful for. Perhaps there is room for a family tradition of voicing aloud what we are grateful for? Do we take the time to purposefully thank those who brought the meal together? Do we have a little time to reflect on those close to us who are not with us for whatever reason? Children benefit greatly from these things being spoken about and a quiet reflective moment at the beginning of the festive meal is a blessing for everyone. As adults we may quietly muse over these thoughts of gratitude and remembrance but children may not – it’s so easy for them to get caught up in the excitement so let’s not lose the opportunity!
Christmas can be a super busy time of year and often it brings to mind those special friends and extended family members that we don’t see too often – if a visit is too hard then a note is a lovely way of letting people know we care about them. Children might like to draw a picture or make their own card to send – this is a mindful reminder that Christmas is not all about them but a time to share and celebrate the love and friendship in our lives.
Celebration of Beauty
I have already written in an earlier blog how important it is for children to be exposed to beauty and if we look past the tinsel there is much beauty created in association with the festive season.
In your own home you may create a Christmas tree and decorate it with beautiful ornaments. In our family we have a collection of ornaments from different destinations around the world or ones received as gifts. When we were a family with small children, homemade decorations were always included on our tree! Sadly they haven’t survived the test of time!
Even if you're not a church-going family there is something magical about a Christmas service! It's joyful, full of music, staging and ceremony and there is a wonderful feeling of goodwill and happiness – much beauty all around to be absorbed by minds, young and old!
If you don’t often expose your children to classical music then Christmas is an opportunity to start. There are many recordings of classically performed Christmas carols – try some with voices and others without, a very mindful listening opportunity as children identify carols without the words! This is exposure to beauty through music that they may not usually accept but will because it’s part of your Christmas tradition.
Do you drive around your neighbourhood and appreciate the time families have taken in creating a special place for the rest of us to enjoy with their Christmas light displays? Meeting the people who created the beautiful scenes is often possible and one that brings a mindful element to the outing – real people have put a lot of time and energy into making something of significance and beauty for others to appreciate and enjoy.
It is possible to enjoy a thoughtful, mindful Christmas if we plan ahead. There is nothing more stressful than leaving everything to the last minute so plan the gift giving, plan the food menu, share the load and do ahead of time whatever can be done ahead of time! It may be useful to explore the notion of saying ‘no’ to some invitations and only attending those that have the most meaning for you. Make sure you plan for downtime during this period as being tired and cranky will not enhance the Christmas experience for anyone and will most likely rob us of the time we need to mindfully bring it altogether.
If you're looking for conscious, positive gifts for children this Christmas, our children's book, Making Mindful Magic makes for the perfect gift for children of all ages - nieces, nephews, grandkids, godchildren, friends' children and your own kids!