The holiday season hasn’t always been good to my family. We have experienced loss, domestic violence, and other traumas around the holiday season and these things leave a permanent mark on your memories and your soul.
That said, we are not defined by the things that happen to us, but rather by the way we react to the things life throws our way. I’ve done my best to teach my kids to be resilient and kind and most of all – to love throughout everything.
During some of our most difficult and challenging times, we have loved the most, given the most, and learned to search our hearts first before acting on anything.
Here are some heart-centered holiday traditions I have taken on with my children:
- Creating necessity bags for the homeless. My daughter started this on her 16th birthday when we went to NYC to hand them out to people. I didn’t even have the money to buy her a gift that year but we walked around the City all day meeting people less fortunate than us, people sleeping on the streets and park benches, and people who were ever-so-grateful for our little gift. It made us feel so happy and abundant and puts things into perspective.
- Donations to a local cancer charity, Jammin for Jaclyn. My younger daughter started this one when she decided she wanted to donate all of her art commissions from the holiday season to Jammin for Jaclyn. She raised almost $300 herself that first year doing custom drawings for people. We also gained a new family in Jacyln’s family and that is something you can truly never put a price on.
- Raise money for St. Jude. Most people are familiar with St. Jude and the great work they do for families of children with cancer. It’s a topic near and dear to our heart and we always give back through fundraisers and direct donations during the holiday season.
- Run 5Ks and 10Ks for charity. Another tradition we have for the holidays is to sign up for races where the proceeds go to support worthwhile charities. We get the experience and the memories of doing it together – and sometimes a t-shirt or a medal to boot. And most of all, we get to help a great cause.
The most important thing for us during the holidays is to give back. There have been many times that we would not have had a Christmas at all without the kindness of others. And there have been a few times when we didn’t have any presents because we just couldn’t afford them that year. But the best lessons I could teach my children about the holiday season is that it’s not about things that money can buy.
The holidays are about heart.
For us, the spirit of the holidays should always be about love and giving back. What are some ways you give back during this season?