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You don’t have to read my articles or follow me on Facebook very long before you know two things. The first is that I despise commercialized holidays (Think Christmas here). And the second is that I love everything about Christmas, from the lights to the trees to the music an everything in between. especially the traditions families have that are carried on to the next generation.

So, how can we enjoy the magic of Christmas without being overwhelmed by the commercial side of it? Because Christmas includes gifts, doesn’t it? And gifts cost money. But traditions don’t have to cost a lot of money, and there are valuable lessons our kids can learn from our traditions.

Here are a couple things our family came up with over the years. Maybe you can add a new tradition like these or just put a new twist on one you already have.

In addressing the commercial side of Christmas, it’s the perfect time to show our kids that open hands are for giving as well as for receiving. One year I helped the kids make homemade chocolates, which we took to a local nursing home. The kids visited with the folks there and had a wonderful time.

Another year, someone dressed up as Santa, and we went to the same nursing home and sang Christmas songs while “Santa” handed out candy canes. Then there was a year we gathered coats from the kids’ closets and from friends and donated them to a coat drive.

Most churches have an “Angel Tree” with tags that have an item written on them. Without the generosity of people, some of those kids wouldn’t have a Christmas at all. Or you may know a family that is struggling. What if the kids pitched in or just went shopping with you to buy a small gift and to give it anonymously?

Because we were a military family, we were seldom home for the holidays. However, we knew there were single GIs, both male and female, who likely would spend the holidays alone. So, every year, the kids pitched in and helped me cook everything you can think of. Then we had an “Open House” sometime during Christmas week.

On that night, the kids played host and hostess to people who needed a “part time” family just for the holidays. They were young, but they stood taller knowing they were making a difference. And most of my kids have carried that tradition of giving into their own homes.

I’m not suggesting you cancel gift-giving. Not at all. Christmas is about giving, and there’s great joy in being able to give gifts. However, you can help “de-commercialize” the holiday if you find ways your kids can give and know open hands are for giving as well as for receiving.

If you have a tradition you’d like to share, send it to me in care of the “News-Aegis,” and I’ll let people know about it in a future article.

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