Thoughtful Parenting: Managing materialism during the holidays

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“Mom!” my daughter screamed from the living room. “Mom! Hurry, you need to come right away! Mom! Hurry, hurry!” 

I dropped the basket of laundry I was maneuvering carefully through the hall, jumped over our large, sleeping dog and sprinted toward her, certain there must be a broken bone or open gash in need of sutures.

“You missed it!” she yelled, as I breathlessly entered the room. 

“Missed what?” 

“The commercial,” she whined. “It was the exact Littlest Pet Shop set that I want for Christmas! What took you so long?” 

It clearly is that time of year. In addition to the stress and anxiety that come with the business of the holiday season, we have the materialistic bug that creeps into our lives from every angle. Every store, TV commercial and catalog is designed to prey on young minds with a plethora of advertising convincing us we need an abundance of everything to have a meaningful holiday season. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts, I love Santa and I love seeing my kids’ little faces light up at the start of Hanukkah and on Christmas morning. But how do we balance the materialism that consumes so much of the holiday season with teaching our kids the true meaning of giving and receiving?

In short, I think it is possible to strike this balance. It takes an intentional effort to offset the materialism that can take over young minds with activities that teach them there is more to the holidays than the nicely wrapped boxes with pretty bows.

A friend of mine had a great idea. She wanted to teach her 3-year-old about giving during the holidays. She sent an e-vite to all of her friends explaining that she and her son were going to collect food to donate to the local food drive. They asked that on Sunday morning we all put any canned or boxed food that we would like to donate on our porch, and she and her son would pick up the items and deliver them to the local food bank.

What a simple, fun and powerful way to spend a Sunday morning. The other thing that I loved about this idea was that it provided us, as a participating family, the opportunity to have our kids take part in the giving, as well, in addition to having a meaningful conversation about why they were doing this.

With that, a hearty thank you to the Wrights and Mudgett-Furgueson families for their thoughtfulness. Share your ideas for managing materialism on the First Impressions of Routt County Facebook page, or share your thoughts and comments below.

Kristen Race, Ph.D., is a Steamboat Springs resident and the founder of Mindful Life, an organization dedicated to providing mindful solutions to help families become more resilient to the stress in their lives. She has been a member of the First Impressions executive committee for the past five years.

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