It seems that almost any direction we look, we are reminded that it is time to start preparing for the holidays. It is easy to get caught up in all of the excitement and forget that the children need to be prepared for the season also. Instead of just letting them “come along for the ride” this year, why not prepare them to be an active part of all of the activities?

Checklists are wonderful for saving time and making sure we don’t forget something. Here is a checklist for making sure all other lists are made:

Sit down with the children right away and explain the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Make sure the children understand how our country was started and the story of the first Thanksgiving. Talk with the children about what they have to be thankful for and help them make out a list of those things. Read some of the Psalms from the Bible to the children that tell us to give thanks. List with the children the ways the family has been blessed. List with the children the ways the community and country have been blessed. Tell the Christmas story to the children. Read the Christmas story to the children from Luke 2 in the Bible. Explain to the children that Santa is not real. Tell them that talking about Santa is a game that adults play to have fun with the children. Ask the children whether they want to play the game of Santa, and if so, make sure they understand it is only a game. Have the children make a list of people who are especially meaningful to them. Ask if they want to give those people a gift. If so, make a gift list. Have the children list their resources for giving. This can include money they have saved or other things they may have to give. Explain that the reason we give is to show love to others. Explain that love includes self-sacrifice and concern for the happiness of others. Explain that gifts can be things we do for others as well as what we may make or buy. Explain that the Bible tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Tell some stories of personal past Christmas experiences to the children. Read some good Christmas stories to the children. Talk about decorations and decide each person’s task.

You probably noted that I did not mention having the child make a list for self wants. The emphasis should be on giving to others, not getting for self. Making a want list may be alright, but that is not what we should stress. We can’t teach children to think of others when all we do is tell them to think of themselves. We can’t have it two ways. It is preferable for children to grow up thinking of what they can give, not just what they can get.