mindfulness for the holidays


As we approached this holiday season, our family decided that we wanted to be more mindful of the true meaning of the holiday spirit and for us that means: Love, laughter, togetherness, gratitude, giving and celebration of life (and those we have lost).

We decided to do a few things differently…Rather than our typical LEGO advent, we printed a giving advent that shares a daily deed of kindness. We found this easy to download list by Lisa Leake, which instructs children to do things such as:

  • Mail a card to a relative that you have not spoken to in a while.
  • Do something especially nice and out of the ordinary for your sister or brother.
  • Write a letter to your teacher telling them what you most like about his or her class.
  • Give someone a nice compliment they wouldn’t normally expect.
  • Play with a friend at school that is alone at recess.

You can see from the picture that it isn’t anything fancy. It is simply a stack of papers tied together with yarn and the kids tear one off each day. What is meaningful outside of the task being given is the time sitting around the fire talking about the concept and being still (as still as we can be when the toddler is still up) with the beautiful people in my life.

We also wrapped 25 holiday books, one to be opened each day leading up to Christmas. These are books about Christmas and other holidays celebrated around the world and the kids get excited about opening one each day. Some are board books for our younger son and some are chapter books for our older one. While we typically read with both of the children, it’s rare that we do it together. This new tradition of reading as a whole family may be one we keep year round.

These have been two fun, educational, and kind ways for us to celebrate the advent. They are aligned with our family values and what we hope to acheive this holiday season.

Now, there are a few more typical traditions that we continue, too…

Of course, Max, our Elf on the Shelf also arrived yesterday. This is an absolute blast for the kids, but honestly, Max causes me more stress than enjoyment. I have been known to be THAT MOM who forgets to move him and has to come up with an explanation about how Santa must have given Max the night off or how Max must have needed extra rest. I have learned not to hide him in my kids’ rooms because the anxiety I experience when I try to go in to get him without waking them is definitely not worth it. I don’t want to be the one who single-handedly takes away the magic of Christmas for my kids.  To add to the stress, my eight year old writes long letters to Max and Santa and leaves them in the messenger bag he constructed for this little elf. Do I write back? Every time? Where do I keep these treasures so that they won’t be found? They are, after all, supposed to be at the North Pole.

We also arrange for a personalized free email video from Santa Claus’ Portable North Pole each year. This is always a thrill for the kids because Santa knows their name, what they have been working on, and what they want for Christmas.

As you can see, our family celebrates Christmas, however, several of these ideas could be adapted for other holidays, too.

What are some holiday traditions that are cherished by your family?

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