Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mindful Parenting: Making the Holiday Season Meaningful

Around the holidays, many churches and organizations raise money to buy gifts for children in hospitals, shelters, and foster care. Mary has participated many times in these events and has seen first hand how much it means to the children involved. But this year, why not try something even more meaningful and memorable, and help provide experiences  - not things - to disadvantaged kids. Here are some unusual ways to make the holidays special for kids in need:

- Bring in a local church choir or madrigal singers to take the children from a group home out Christmas caroling. Provide hot chocolate and holiday treats when they return.

- Ask local artists to participate in a hands-on art project with a multicultural holiday theme at a homeless shelter. Find out if an art store in the area will donate supplies. Make the project something interactive and don't be afraid to be a little messy - kids love that! Just bring along some old shirts and towels (and volunteers) for quick and efficient clean up.

- Bring in a professional storyteller to a community center in a disadvantaged area of your community and invite them to share a classic holiday story like The Night Before Christmas.

- Theater tickets can be out of reach for many needy families due to cost. Get together with your extended family, friends or co-workers, and between you, buy tickets to a holiday themed show or musical for a few local families who simply can't afford such an extravagance. Contact the theater manager and see if you can get the seats for half price. Maybe they'll even throw in a few tickets on the house! Arrange for transportation or provide a parking pass.

- Arrange for a professional magician to entertain at the children's ward of the community hospital during Chanukah or Christmas. Make sure the magician will go from bed to bed for the sickest children. Kids who are facing illness need to be reminded that life can still be magical.

-Ask local restaurants in your hometown to consider setting up a Holiday Table. Restaurant patrons, local businesses, or places of worship can be invited to sponsor the table for one night in December to provide a free meal for a family in need this holiday season. Make sure to choose restaurants with kid friendly options!

More on Mary O’ Donohue

Mary O'Donohue, a working mother, developed a unique month-by-month program that she and her husband use to successfully educate their children about the twelve values her family holds most dear. Her award winning book, When You Say "Thank You," Mean It, is a solution for busy 21st century parents who want to raise children who are ethical, compassionate, grateful, and respectful. Her book creatively engages the entire family using weekly exercises, thought-provoking Questions of the Day, challenging role-playing games, and other fun, family-friendly activities.

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