Sharing our holiday values with grandchildren helps shape their views of family, celebration, and faith for years to come. What we may forget in the hustle and bustle of holiday prep is that it also becomes a factor in forming their identity. Most of us struggled with identity as young people, especially in our tween and teen years. Mixed messages from family, friends, peer groups and current culture often leave young people trying to sort out who they are and what their purpose in life is to be.
Since holiday celebrations create landmarks in most families, sharing holiday values during these times is important. How can we shape activities, discussions, and time spent together to share healthy messages about the values we hold dear as a family? Grandparents may not be first-level caregivers but they can certainly reinforce and add another layer of understanding to values. These may include sharing, giving, charitable work, and faith traditions.
Consider the holiday values in your family. Now reconsider them in light of the influences they exert on the formation of your grandchildren’s identities. List values out and consider how you might share them with the Grands. Is “giving” a value you consider important? What can you do with your grandchildren this year that teaches the virtues of giving? Could you spend an afternoon or day with your grandchild(ren) and deliver meals or gifts to those in your community who are less fortunate?
For young children, could you do a household change hunt to gather a contribution to a charity? I remember clearly putting dimes into offering envelopes at Sunday School. It was not a large contribution to the overall picture of church finances, but the activity took root in my heart.
Values and Identity
What does a young person learn from such experiences teaching the value of giving that might be formative of identity? They begin to see themselves as a contributor to their community. A person of worth. Someone who reaches out to others. Someone who has something to offer through their efforts, kindness, and perhaps, their talents, possessions, or wealth. Our grandchild’s perceptions of self gleaned from activities we encourage, help solidify their identity.
The added bonuses of time spent together and deeper relationships with those you love make such activity well worth the effort. It may not be easy the first time if you’ve never embarked on such an activity with your Grands. Since 2020 is making us all evaluate our holiday activities it’s a good time to identify holiday values and brainstorm ways to share them with the Grands. We may find new traditions or deeper meaning in simpler holidays this year.
What are three of the most important holiday values in your family? How have they been passed down through the years?