Happy Hanukkah & Merry Christmas!


The first graders were welcome to shop at their school for gifts for their friends and family members. Envelopes were sent home with categories of names and amounts that parents felt should be spent on each person. Teachers and parent volunteers were available in the school’s set-up “store” for shopping. Most items were between 25 cents and $5. The shopping was held at the school for 2 days.

Samantha was given $40 and her parents told her to buy whatever she wanted. The parents did not take the time to fill in the list, nor give spending limits on the envelope. They felt it was too time consuming. They did not take the time to explain anything about giving gifts to others. They were too busy.

Alexi’s parents sat down and carefully talked with her about each family member. They wrote down the names of the people Alexi said, and decided together the right amount for each person, about $1 each. In the end, Alexi had $13 total, for 10 family members and closest friends.

Samantha came home after the first day and showed her parents all the delightful gifts she purchased – most of them for herself. Her parents went out and bought the gifts for family members “from Samantha” by themselves, because it was just easier.

After the first day, Alexi came home and announced that she “needed more money” because she spent too much on some people, and seemed to forget about the others. Her parents felt sad, and hugged Alexi, saying sometimes it is hard to stick to the limits. They gave her no more money.

  • Which child learned about limits? Which child learned about self-control?
  • Which child learned about budgets, even if that word wasn’t used?
  • Which child learned about giving to others?

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights, and a reminder of God’s provision of enough oil for 8 days, when the people thought they only had enough oil for one. It was just enough time to make more olive oil, to burn the lamp used in the temple. Foods celebrated during Hanukkah are usually cooked in oil, preferably olive oil, as a remembrance (typically potato pancakes). Prayers are said and songs of remembrance and thankfulness are sung while viewing the lit candles, and sometimes games are played.

For more information on how to teach the meaning of Hanukkah to your children, visit this step-by-step guide.

Merry Christmas!

If you celebrate Christmas, you can do a few things to slow down, and help your family to focus on the true meaning of Christmas:

  1. Read the Christmas story. It doesn’t take long, and you can find the story in Luke, chapter 2 in the Bible.
  2. Be thankful. Before eating, go around the table and say one thing you are grateful for in 2008. This could take just a few seconds per person. Be the example, and go first. This sets the tone, and the time amount
  3. Say “thank you.” Have just one person open one gift at a time, and teach your children to say “thank you” to the giver, before the next gift is opened. This teaches self-control and gratitude.

Lots of things can be done to help your children remember the true meaning of Christmas. Write to me some of your ideas and traditions that help you remember the birth of Jesus Christ.

parenting resources

helpful websites

  • Love and Logic
    Bestselling author Jim Fay, founder of the "Love and Logic" process.
  • Focus on The Family
    Provides parenting advice and other family issues from a Christian perspective. Founded by Dr. James Dobson.
  • TroubledWith: Parenting Children
    Resources dealing with various common childhood issues and what a parent can do.