5 Tips to Remember the True Meaning of Holidays + Our Top 10 Christmas Movies

If your family is anything like my mine, it is so easy to get caught up with the materialistic aspect of a holiday. It is so exciting to think of new ways to decorate the outside and inside of your home, the beautiful decorations that adorn the walls, tables, and plants. I know my kids light up with joy, as these decorations come out each year. Than there is of course the gifts we buy for loved ones and friends.  As soon as we put the Halloween decorations away, my kids start talking about all the toys they want for Christmas. I have to admit, last year was our first Christmas with our kids and we made sure the kids had presents to open on Christmas day.

  • Ruthy loved helping decorate our tree! She picked up the lights and started placing them on the tree herself!

I just finished interviewing Elijah about what he knows about Christmas, and he confirmed my thoughts. He mentioned how you decorate the tree and house with lights, but did not know why. He also stated that Santa comes to give everyone presents. He did know that we celebrate Christ during Christmas, but my big take away from the interview was that I want to teach my children the true meaning behind the Holidays.

The following are my top 5 tips to help remember the true meaning behind the holidays as a family.

  • Find a way to serve throughout the holiday season. There are so many ways to serve. Some of our family’s favorite is to visit nursing homes and hospitals. There are those that do not have loved ones that come about to visit and are not healthy enough to go about to see them. My mother in law started the tradition of Christmas caroling in the nursing homes, and we enjoy accompanying her on Christmas day. More ideas include going to homeless shelters and helping serve food, participating in food drives, and toy drives. My daughter came home the other day from school, with a flier from school asking families to write letters to soldiers deployed during the holiday season! Hand written letters are becoming a forgotten art, but I know everyone loves getting something in the mail that is not a bill or advertisement.   You can also write letters to loved ones who will not be able to be home for the holidays.
    Isabel is writing a letter to Tio Jose since he will not come home for the holidays!

    # Light the World – I love this initiative that is going around. It is to encourage everyone to give to those in need using our time, talents, and other resources. There is a calendar that leads up to Christmas that encourages us to serve as Jesus did for 25 days.  I think this is a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Make cookies and treats to give out to friends and family. I like to do this one as a way to say thank you to all our friends and family members who make a difference in our lives. Our list include teachers, bus drivers, therapists, pediatrician, neighbors, family members, friends and much more. It takes a village to raise a child, so the list is really endless of people to make cookies for. I think we will make a couple batches each week and on Sundays we will deliver them. Unless we see them during the week.  I think this is a great tradition for kids to take part in. It gets the whole family to think of others and forget ourselves. It also feels really great to give back. In Isabel’s words, ” I feel happy when I give out things to people!” I think this is a great feeling to carry in our hearts throughout the holiday season.
  • Have everyone choose a gift to give away to those in need. We do this in multiple ways.  In the beginning of the holiday season, we have our kids go through their toys and make a pile of toys to give away. This one is a hard one for children. Elijah complains that he still plays with all his toy, but once we explained that there are kids that do not have many toys to play with, he became a little more willing to participate.  I also have to mention that I told him that he would most likely get new toys for Christmas and his birthday and he needed to make room for them. The mention of new toys, definitely motivated him to give some of his toys. This can also be done by adopting a family to buy gifts for secretly. I love how there are so many ways to give this time of year!

    Elijah is picking toys to give away! He had a hard time, but is starting to feel better about it! I will make sure to take the kids wherever we choose to donate, which I think will be our foster care agency!
  • Share holiday traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is one I am excited to implement this year! We inherited many of our Christmas decorations from my parents. They gave us the Christmas decorations that I loved as a child, some of which were the Santa Elves that play Christmas songs using the bells  and the Santa Heads that light up! These few decorations remind me of my childhood and can spark those conversations of family traditions. Kids  love to hear stories of the times we were young and their age. Other traditions can be food that we eat, family recipes, and why we celebrate the way we do! For example, my family celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. My mother makes chanchita, which is pork, for the main dish and other family members contribute with other sides. Our family enjoys Christmas caroling around the neighborhood and sometimes we venture to friends of the family.  Bryce’s family traditions includes gathering together on Christmas day for lunch. Bryce’s mom always has stockings for all of us to open full of treats. We then gather on a Christmas quilt and open presents one by one! I think it great to talk about whatever traditions you have with your children. Even if they seem small or insignificant.

    Ruthy helping me take out Santa’s Elves that play the bells!
  •  Watch holiday movies.  Our family enjoys cuddling up and watching good movies. There is nothing better than spending quality time as a family, even if it is over a good movie. It important to laugh together as a family.  We complied a list of our top 10 holiday movies:
    1. The Santa Claus– Ever wonder what would happen if Santa Claus got hurt? I know I did as a girl! Love how this movie plays on this thought.
    2. Elf– This is Elijah’s favorite. It is his favorite because, Buddy puts syrup in his pasta and eats funny things.
    3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas– Jim Carrey stars as the Grinch in the remake of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch stole Christmas. I love this movie, because it shows how doing good can influence others.
    4. Home Alone (1990)- This is everyone’s worst nightmare come to life, being left behind. Kevin is left as his family travels for the holidays. Not only is he alone, but he finds that two people are trying to break into his home.  Join along as Kevin figures out how to defend himself from these awful intruders
    5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)- This is Bryce’s favorite pick. He found Chevy Chase’s character is super hilarious and makes the movie!
    6. A Christmas Carol (1984) – I have always enjoyed this movie and how a bitter old man changes his heart as he is visited by three ghosts.
    7.  A Christmas Story – My siblings and I loved this movie and for some reason we related to these characters.
    8. The Polar Express  – This animated movie  captures the magic of believing in Santa for children.
    9. Home Alone 2– This is a sequel to Home Alone set in New York. I normally do not like sequels, but this is a great one!
    10. Mickey’s Christmas Carol – This is a great animated version of A Christmas Carol. The characters captivated their roles!

      Ruthy loves celebrating the holidays!
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  1. joancajic says:

    Love this, such a great read, It really is nice to explain to out kids what holidays mean and that it’s not always gifts and appearances.

  2. Ashley Bass says:

    What a great list. It is so lovely that you do these things with your kiddos and show them the true meanings

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you! I noticed that I was hearing a lot of “I want” or “I need”. I wanted to shift the focus to others rather than ourselves!

  3. what a sweet and nurturing way to celebrate the festivities with the kids!

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you! Kids learn best in nurturing environments!

  4. Jen Walker says:

    I’m currently trying to teach my 4 year old that gift giving is about the recipient, and that no, momma does not want a crane truck as a gift. We’ve always picked a few kids off the Salvation Army tree and bought gifts for them, and it’s something I hope the boys continue to choose to do on their own as long as they are able. I live in Northern California where so many in my community lost everything to wildfires last month, and while it is heartbreaking for those directly impacted, doing something to help those in need is an eye opening experience for my boys.

    1. Melina says:

      I am so glad you serve others with your children! It is eye opening and teaches them so much!

  5. Ophelia T says:

    I love this post. The true meaning of Christmas is to give and serve others. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you! It is so easy to forget why e celebrate the holidays, when there is so much to do! Stop and serve!

  6. Chuck Vargas says:

    Christmas is really in the air. Not even kids would love this holiday. Share the love

  7. Sam says:

    I love this post! It can be easy to get caught up in the materialistic things of Christmas. I love your tips and will share them with my family. It looks like you have a beautiful family! I hope you enjoy this Christmas together!

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I am grateful for this sweet family of mine! Hope you and your family find these tips helpful and enjoy your Christmas together as well!

  8. Aditi says:

    Aww.. that’s amazing! I love the way your family bonds over movies, decorations and cards over Christmas. I like your point on giving the needy during festivities. Cheers!!

  9. This was such a cute read! It is def easy to get wrapped up in everything! Your kids are adorable and it is sweet of you to give their old toys to a foster agency. The new christmas movie out next week looks like another keeper!

  10. thetennisfoodie says:

    I remember I used to watch A Christmas Carol when I was a kid with my family. Definitely a feel good movie.

  11. I think many forget this is a time for family and loved ones. Thanks for the share!

  12. These are awesome! We are putting the tree up Friday, and this year they have trees for their room too!

  13. It really is important to explain to out kids what holidays really mean. I let my girls know it’s not always gifts.

  14. I absolutely love these tips! This is a message so important to teach young children!

  15. It is was important to me to have to taught my children the meaning of Christmas and giving to others. Writing letters to the soldiers is such an awesome thoughtful thing to do and can indeed be a tradition for many families. I have to admit that Ruth is so adorable and these photos bring back memories from when my boys were little. Thanks for sharing the your thoughts and the movies.

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