things “Christmas Is,” like mom burning the turkey, paper and ribbon
scattered all over the floor, and dropping money in a bucket for those
in need. It’s upbeat and covers a lot of scenarios many of us have lived.
In Acts 20:35, Jesus is quoted as having said a phrase that many a
parent has uttered to a child at some time or other: “It is more blessed to
give than to receive.”
If you want to help a child reap those blessings, help them partici-pate
in gift giving. For example, make teachers goodie bags with hand
sanitizer, a candy cane, hot chocolate packets, etc. Let them go shop-ping
with you to pick out the gifts.
Gift giving doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be thought-filled.
It should be a gift of love.
Many elderly people feel forgotten, invisible, and unloved. A hand-made
card, delivered by a child, can be one of the happiest moments
of their day. Or fill a stocking with necessary items and a few fun
things and write an elderly neighbor’s name on it. We once heard
an octogenarian say, “I’ve never had a stocking with my name on it
before.” That was a moment that made the family feel good, and cost
Another way to teach giving is to ask a child to pick out canned and
boxed goods to donate to a homeless shelter or other nonprofit that
feeds hungry people. If your budget is limited, tell them you can only
spend a set amount, and help them figure out how that dollar will
go the furthest. It might be wise to call a shelter first and ask what it
Another way to get into the holiday spirit is to watch a few classic
holiday movies or TV shows.
Like music, movies can uplift a heart and evoke some of those
Christmas feelings, peace, love or joy. They can also just be family-
Make a plan, leave the phones and other distractions in another
room, have some festive snacks, and enjoy diving into a classic and
sharing the tears or laughter with someone you love.
Some classic family must-sees include White Christmas, It’s a
Wonderful Life, Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Our family must-see is The Muppet Christmas Carol starring Michael
Caine, where the Ghost of Christmas Present reminds us, “wherever
you find love, it feels like Christmas.”
Trying new things is another way to bond with family and add fun to
holiday traditions. Plan a picnic to the beach to look at the stars, go to
a live nativity at a church, visit some of the tourist attractions that you
might have missed, like touring the Battleship North Carolina or the
Railroad Museum, which has a phenomenal miniature railway set and
Get outside with a visit to the New Hanover County Arboretum
where the camellias should be in full bloom, the koi should be active
in the pond, and the enhanced children’s garden may be complete.
A new thing might also be a day of service for a nonprofit.
Top: Get into the giving spirit of Christmas by volunteering with
nonprofits like Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry. WARM
executive director J.C. Lyle gives a donated space heater to one
of the homeowners registered with the organization and living
without heat. Bottom: A steam locomotive and extensive model
train layout keep the whole family engaged at the Wilmington
Volunteers often must be adults, but some organizations will use
teens accompanied by an adult. Groups such as Wilmington Area
Rebuilding Ministry (WARM) can use volunteers for one day or many.
Carpentry experience is not required, but always helpful.
Many nonprofits have a wish list feature on their websites, allowing
donors to fund something needed.
Ultimately, finding the Christmas spirit is up to each of us. There’s
no guarantee, but if you go looking for peace, love and joy, you might
just “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
COURTESY WILMINGTON RAILROAD MUSEUM WBM FILE PHOTO
COURTESY WILMINGTON RAILROAD MUSEUM