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Making the holiday’s more meaningful

By: Dr. Patricia Abboud

I don’t know how many parents feel like I do, but each year as October rolls into November, I know Christmas will soon be here and worry about the commercialization of the season.  I truly love this time of the year.  Our family has much to celebrate, birthdays, anniversaries and oh yes, our faith.

I told myself soon after my youngest was born (7 years ago) that once my children lost the magic of Santa Claus and could better understand the meaning behind Christmas, I was going to ‘do away with the presents’.  I was accused by family and friends of being cold and heartless (in so many words).

This happened in my house 2 years ago.  The younger kids realized that it is nearly impossible for one man to make his way around the world and deliver presents to ALL by midnight. In fact my oldest tried to explain the changes in the time zones as the reason Santa is able to make it happen…the younger 2 didn’t fall for it.

The problem I wrestle with is, I know the kids have everything they NEED.  The WANT factor becomes an issue for me.  We don’t overindulge them, but at times I feel that it is ‘the expectation’ that at Christmas time they get all their ‘hearts desires’ just because it is Christmas.

So what have I done this year?  I’ve taken a few steps to making the holidays more meaningful for our family and help bring out a ‘selfless spirit’.

  1.  Helping my children develop a sense of charitable GIVING.  The kid’s school always does a shoe drive and a coat drive this time of year. We’ve always participated.  I’ve just taken the shoes or coats in myself and delivered them to the school.  This year each child picked out, purchased and donated a pair of shoes for a child their own age.  Hopefully realizing that not everyone has this basic necessity. 
  2. Being a role model for my children.  They know mom is a doctor and she takes care of really sick kids.  They believe I have a noble job, but I also get paid for what I do.   I have been involved in our church as a volunteer and in a national organization raising money for medical research as a volunteer as well.  They know that this is something ‘extra” I am doing to do my part.  I often tell them giving money may be easy for some people, but truly giving of yourself, is priceless.
  3. Praise generosity.  I try to commend them when they are getting along, doing chores without being asked and volunteering to help each other with homework or cleaning their rooms.  It hopefully reinforces the behavior and lets them know that I am paying attention.
  4. Showing your kids hospitality.  I already mentioned I love this time of year.  My home is ALWAYS decorated for Christmas.  We host friends and family for multiple gatherings during the holidays and the kids look forward to it! They are excited to help me plan the meals, set up the house,  do the shopping and play host/hostess with me.  Again hopefully infusing them with the importance of generosity.
  5. Don’t’ focus on material objects and their value.  My daughter knows everyone’s birthday and starts planning her celebration and gift MONTHS ahead.  She draw’s pictures, makes jewelry, gives away her ‘worldly possessions’ if she knows one of her brother’s had been admiring it.  I make a HUGE deal out of gifts they make at school because it is unique and NO ONE IN THE WORLD has this special present I have.  I have a ‘treasure chest’ with their masterpieces. Every once in a while I pull it out to show them how much I value them.

To all our readers, I hope you and your families and loved ones have a safe and healthy holiday and a WONDERFUL 2014.

By the way, don’t worry about my children; they will have presents to open under the tree, but hopefully with more appreciative heart and spirit.

By: Dr. Patricia Abboud

Dr. Abboud is a pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children’s and the mother of three kids. As part of the “Dr. Mom Squad,” Dr. Abboud blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Abboud!


  1. Reply
    tatuagens December 22, 2013

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