Alternative Advent Calendar – make December a month of gratefulness!
The power of gratefulness
The practice of gratefulness and appreciation is an amazing tool to boost once self-esteem, positive energy and even heal many diseases. I talk about a round of gratitude in my parenting guide ‘Ten easy steps for joyful parenting’ (free to download here) and every family who introduced this custom in their everyday life noticed a huge improvement in their relationships. Why not follow a similar idea to make our Christmas unforgettable this year and the whole of December a month of love, cheerfulness and sharing.
How does it work?
It’s really simple. Every family member has a jar with their name on it. Every day we sit together, cut a sheet of paper into pieces and write a short note (it can be a sentence or a few words or even a picture) for all the other family members, saying what we like about them, what we appreciate in them, what we are grateful for and so on. You can appreciate really small things, such as the fact that someone smiles at you in the morning, hugged you during the day, helped you with something, said something nice to their sibling and so on.
Try to appreciate not the results but the efforts. Try to emphasize how wonderful each person is as it is. We put it into their jar and continue with another person. We also talk about it, say it aloud and write it together (as my kids are small and still need help with writing). We do it every day throughout all December and then, during Christmas, we open the jars and read all the notes we’ve received. This is the most touching moment for me during the whole year…
The benefits of such Advent Calendar
When you see these smiles of pure happiness and love, the joyfulness of receiving and giving, the growth of self-esteem and self-love which is happening before your eyes, the disbelief (‘I didn’t know it’s so important for you’. Or ‘I didn’t know that you had even noticed it’.), you will know that it is the best Advent Calendar ever! And you will want to do it every year. You will also notice that your children, and probably you as well, will get back to those jars very often throughout the next year. Every time when they feel depressed, low in energy or they start saying ‘Nobody likes me, I’m worthless’ you can offer them reading the notes from their magic jar and remind themselves how great, important and loved they are.
Needless to say that Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (depending on when you decide to sit together and open the jars) will become a magic day that will fulfill each of you with the feeling of being worthy, needed and loved. When you see how much joy you gave someone else by sharing with them what you think about them and what you appreciate in them, you will feel your heart growing and you will also realise the power of words.
Why have I started doing this?
Two years ago I noticed that my kids associate Christmas mainly with presents. What was worse, the whole December was full of gifts and even Santa Clause was not that exciting as it used to be for me as a child. They had Advent Calendar = small gifts every day at home. They had the same in kindergarten. And they also received chocolate Advent calendars from grandparents. So each day of December was fulfilled with receiving gifts. This is not what I want them to associate with Christmas.
Everyone loves Santa Claus but this is not the whole point of Christmas, isn’t it? I wanted to show them that it is not only about receiving but also giving. Also that you can make people happy with something more than material things. You have a huge power to use words to make someone feel valuable and loved. Most importantly I wanted to show them how much happiness it gives us to make someone else happy. And how easy it may be…
I hope it will help you have a very merry Christmas in a loving and supportive atmosphere.
For more ideas like this, you are welcome to join our group of Happy Imperfect Parents!