Teaching the Christmas spirit.
It was important for my husband and I to take a big moment this holiday to teach our kids about the REAL meaning of Christmas. The true Christmas spirit of giving back, of giving of your time and your smile to make someone else's day better. I wasn't quite sure how to go about it since my kids are 6 and 4 and all they knew about Christmas was the that Santa brought them gifts. But, I knew this was the year…the perfect time for their ripe brains and wide open eyes to see and feel all the joy of the holidays.
So, I took to the internet and up popped some ideas. The one that struck me was visiting a retirement home…I vividly remember visiting my grandpa in his retirement home, and he and his friends would be thrilled that I was there…nothing in hand, just the fact that I took the time to visit made their day. I had tears in my eyes just thinking about it. So we made a plan that included the following steps:
- called ahead to clarify visiting hours and let the home know we were bringing children
- made some cookies, which we also cleared with the staff on our call
- talked to the kids about it, so they were prepared and excited
- kept an open mind as to what we would see
- put a smile on our faces
Everyone had just finished their dinner and were heading back to their rooms when we arrived.
And we had our bag full of cookies ready for delivery. The first door we knocked on that got a response was Ellen's. She wheeled up and opened the door, and her eyes immediately went to the kids and lit up. She just wanted to shake their hands and she couldn't stop saying "Thank you." She then asked if we would sing a song…so we did. "Rudolph the red nose reindeer" was the kids choice, and she clapped along. I snuck a look over at my husband and we shared a teary moment during the chorus. We delivered more cookies and heard tons a great stories. We heard all about Charles and his heroism in the war (I saw his purple hear…amazing) and he played us a Christmas tune on his harmonica. We helped another woman find her way back to her husband, and my patient 4-and-3/4-year-old answered everyone's questions without a skip...even when they asked him the same question two or three times.
What a gift. What an amazing night for us as parents. A wonderful and magical dose of Christmas spirit….loving, caring and sharing with people we didn't know until we knocked on their door.