The Twelve Days of Christmas: Lessons to Last a Lifetime
The best gifts are ones that are free. This holiday season give your children a gift that will last a lifetime—the gift of values. On each day preceding Christmas, present your children with the designated “gift” then discuss how its “value” can be applied to their lives.
On the first day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…modeling clay!
Clay is a lot like compassion—soft and pliable. As you and your children shape the clay, remind them to keep their heart soft and pliable toward people less fortunate than themselves. Then make plans as a family to reach out to someone in need.
On the second day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…chocolate coins!
Generosity, like chocolate, is sweet—to the giver and the receiver! As you delve into the chocolate, talk about generous acts family members have done in the past. Together, plan to do one anonymous act of generosity for someone else. Then bask in the sweet rewards of giving!
On the third day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…pipe cleaners!
Just as a pipe cleaner can be bent and twisted, so can the truth. Ask your children about their experiences with honesty and dishonesty and discuss how trust was affected. Create “people” from the pipe cleaners and role-play similar situations.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…a sheriff’s badge!
Courage, like a star-shaped badge, has many points. Ask your children about situations in their lives that require courage. Encourage them to stick up for someone who is being bullied, or to say no to things they know are wrong. Keep the lesson alive by letting each child wear the badge for a day.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…a whistle!
Self-discipline means blowing the whistle on an activity that needs to be curtailed. Help your children identify one activity that requires self-discipline. Then commit as a family to use self-discipline during the next week—exercise together, skip desserts, cut screen use, etc. Follow up on your success. What benefits did you reap? Was it worth the hardship?
On the sixth day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…a goldfish!
Talk with your children about what it means to be responsible for someone or something. Then give them a fish and together make a list of tasks involved for caring for that fish. Every time a chore is carried out, put a star or checkmark next to the task.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…honey!
Bees are not always pleasant, but their work certainly gleans sweet rewards! As you and your children share honey on biscuits, explain the value of work and its benefits. Select one household chore and ask, “If this were not done, how would it impact our lives?” Then give your children several simple household chores and remind them that service with a smile makes life extra sweet.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…magnets!
Friends, like magnets, are attracted to one another. As your children explore the properties of magnets, have them share stories about their friends. What is it they love about that person? Invite your children to emulate their friends’ positive traits. Follow up by having your children do something nice for one of their buddies.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…a glue stick!
When people are loyal to something, they stick to it like glue. Explain how people can be fiercely loyal to different things—family, friends, country, principles, beliefs, etc. Have your children find pictures of things they are loyal to. Then glue them to a larger piece of paper and hang it up.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…a deck of cards!
If you have ever tried to build a house of cards, you know it takes perseverance. As you and your children engage in this feat, discuss what perseverance means. Are there any areas in your children’s lives where they need to persevere? Develop a plan to address that difficulty and overcome the challenge.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…a balloon!
Bragging, like a balloon, inflates a person’s thoughts of himself. While it’s okay to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, bragging about it is impolite. Give everyone a balloon as a reminder that it is okay to be proud of their accomplishments without boasting about it to others.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my parents gave to me…a frosted cupcake!
Respecting others and being respected is like icing on a cake—it makes relationships sweeter! As you eat frosted cupcakes, discuss the meaning of respect and how it is displayed through kind words and actions. Make a list of things that demonstrate respect toward others, then have your children practice doing these things on a regular basis.
Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children and six grandchildren.