And so Christmas approaches. We plan, buy, celebrate, eat and repeat, and unfortunately scour ever expensive kids Santa lists to find something on there we can actually afford! While expectations rise ever further, bank balances dwindle, and credit card bills come clattering through the letterbox, how can we teach children and young people what Christmas is truly about? When did giving become receiving, and an orange, a few nuts and one modest present become an i-phone, an x-box, or a pair of Louis Vuitton Arclight trainers? And how ever did we swap Jesus Christ for chocolate?
Our ever increasing materialistic world is a tide we cannot keep back, and whilst social media continues to doggedly pursue teenagers with its unrealistic and expensive expectations, we are fighting a losing battle.
However, some parents and teachers are inventive in subtly encouraging young ones to adopt a mind-frame of giving at Christmas time. Some lead by example by asking for donations to a good cause instead of a present. Others work alongside their teen and young adult children at Christmas time in soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Teachers involve their students in preparing gift-boxes for the disadvantaged. Even the presents we choose can have an impact on the emotions of young ones. Adopting an endangered animal provides long term giving experience, teaching that there are ways in which to sustain our wonderful planet. On a more personal level, Christmas books such as `The Prayer` (Stephan j Myers) which encourages young people to consider those less fortunate, not only in our thoughts, but also in our actions, and `The Smallest Gift of Christmas` which reveals what is really valuable in our lives, are heart-warming ways to encourage selflessness.
In these ways we can push against the tide, and work towards raising a new generation of unselfish and caring individuals.