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present

as commercialized as Christmas has become, my DH and I decided that we wanted to have some family Christmas traditions that would hopefully shift things a bit from “me! me! me! I want, I want! gimme gimme gimme!!” to “I’m thankful I have so much, it makes it so easy to share w/those who have less than I do” and “being kind and loving is a wonderful gift to give someone.” to that end, we adopted a couple of simple traditions in our home:

one of the primary decorations on our Christmas tree is candy canes, but the quantity can vary greatly from one year to the next, depending upon the children’s behaviour, b/c the only way candy canes can be added to our tree is for the kids to EARN them: by being kind to others, doing small acts of service for others, etc. (doesn’t have to be someone in our family, either — schoolmates, church friends, teachers, etc. are all “fair game”) — even simple things like doing chores w/o complaining or saying “I’m sorry” w/o having to be reminded count as well… the idea is to get our children to consciously think of others instead of only themselves, and it works well enough (once they get older we’ll work more on the “do not your alms before men, to be seen of them” (Matt 6:5) part, but we’re addressing that as well, see below)…

we live very comfortably, and our kids have plenty of toys (more than they use), so each year we help them cull things they’ve either outgrown or haven’t played with for AGES or both, and we donate them to Deseret Industries (aka DI), an organization that operates dozens of local thrift stores in many of the Western states — we make VERY sure to reinforce w/the children that we’re not getting rid of things b/c they’re “old” (many of these items are 1yr old or less, and I have no desire to teach my children disregard for things that aren’t brand-new, or they’ll have no appreciation for history or perhaps even for US when we’re “old”!), rather we’re giving them to people who don’t have as much as we do, and sharing things we’ve outgrown or don’t use but that are still in good condition can make someone else very happy and make us feel good, too… we always try to lead by example: DH and I cull through our things again as well (we usually make several small donations throughout the year) — clothes, shoes, kitchen items, home decor, car accessories, etc. — and include our own unused or little-used items to go to DI… the people who get the things we donate will never know where they came from, and we’ll probably never meet any of the people who get the things we donated, but we know that someone somewhere is benefiting from our willingness to share our bounty…

trying to help our family focus on the true Reason for the Season by emulating the example of our Saviour has brought us closer together as we’ve shared these little traditions together…

Happy Christmas!

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