While in reality we’ve had an entire year to get to this season, I imagine that, like me, many of you may feel that the Holiday season has come upon us at warp speed.

I love Christmas — the meaning, the festivities, the decorations, the baking … all of it. But I think about our kids. Through a multitude of media they are inundated with ads for toys and gadgets, the latest electronic devices, and all kinds of stuff.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, let’s make certain that in the midst of the annual merchandising blitz we take the time — lots of time — to ensure our kids of all ages understand the true meaning of the season. Perhaps you use Biblical writings or share cultural traditions. Perhaps you share through songs, traditions, movies and more.

Here are additional means you may consider using as you celebrate the season with young people in your life.

CELEBRATE FAMILY TRADITIONS

Focus on your family’s favorite traditions and make the most of those activities. Have your kids talk to older family members to learn what traditions they had while growing up. They may learn of traditions they want to incorporate into your holiday.

Be open to starting new traditions that your kids suggest. Cookie baking and candy making have been a huge part of my Christmas season since I was 13. My now grown kids helped when they were young. My son still likes to hit the huge slabs of peanut brittle to break it into pieces. Grandkids are now involved. For weeks Caroline and I have been searching new recipes to add to the tradition list. Dylan will help bake.

GIVE GIFTS FROM THE HEART

Most of the best gifts do not involve spending lots of money. Young people can melt the hearts of parents and grandparents by giving artwork or pictures they’ve created, by writing a special letter to one of these loved ones, or by baking holiday treats for them. Especially grandparents or other older relatives most often do not need things but absolutely treasure the time and personal efforts of young relatives.

PLAN AND PREPARE SPECIAL MEALS

Regardless of their ages, kids can be involved in some aspect of these special meals. They can help plan the menu or set the table on the day of the event. Determine what foods your young person can help prepare, and of course, they can help clean up afterward.

Involve the entire family; all members can enjoy the event and feel proud of their role in helping to ensure its success.

ENGAGE YOUR CHILDREN IN HELPING OUT OTHERS

Holidays are a time of both giving and receiving. There are always people in need and there are a multitude of ways to help them, whether it’s to help ensure they have food to eat and warm clothes to wear, or some other means of helping. If you question where to help, simply read the News and Tribune for lots of ideas.

Finally in all that you do, provide the example for young people of giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives.

Wishing you a joyful, peaceful Christmas and Holiday season.

— Reach Barbara Bridgwater at barbara@youthcount.com

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