Dearest readers,

My hope and prayer for you is that you have beautiful memories for your holidays! For so many of you, this is a stressful time. Relationships are absolutely put to the test during this time. You may see all of the lovely family advertisements with families celebrating the holidays. Is that real for you and your relationships with family. For many it is not. So many of you believe that you have to buy for all of your family members, go into debt, create all of the memories that you can around the holidays. Think…what do you most remember as a kid? Is it the things that you received for holiday or is it the time with those that you love that you truly remember?

In my family, I asked one of my children what they remember about the holidays. I spent a great deal of time making memories for my children. I was so surprised and happy that they remembered what I hoped they would. The memories that I created for my children did not involve how much money I spent. My truest gift to them was time. Here’s a list to remember for you.

Make cookies with them at any age….not for them.

Decorate the tree with them….not for them.

Decorate the house with them…not for them.

Have them choose a toy to give to a local charity.

Let them read their favorite holiday stories to you.

Watch those cheesy holiday cartoons with them.

Teach them the meaning of your holiday and why you celebrate.

Get simple and make paper chains and string popcorn…with them.

Have your children go with you to deliver cookies to your neighbors.

Have your children go shopping with you to plan a meal to give to someone in need.

These are just some of the opportunities that we have as parents to help create lasting memories for our children. And as I said, my heart is warmed that my children most remember these times and not the gifts that they received. Just one more thing to add…..

I became so disillusioned with the amount of money that people spent. One night I woke up and realized that I only had the power over what I wanted for my family. I decided that there would only be three gifts for Christmas for each child. Those who are Christian know why there are three gifts. My children grew up being very careful with their list and learned to decide what gifts were most important to them. If you have little ones, I encourage you to start this tradition. It teaches your children to make decisions at such a young age. And…how many of those things do they actually take care of and play with?

I wish you a holiday full of joy and memories!

Kari Petruch