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  • Writer's pictureDr. Luisa Bryce

Grateful versus greedy: Getting rid of the gimmies this holiday season

The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Every year Thanksgiving seems to pass more quickly, for just as soon as the last pumpkin pie dish is cleaned, plans for Black Friday shopping take over in full force. Sometimes it seems we don’t give Thanksgiving the time and credit it deserves, while we prepare and plan for Christmas weeks in advance. And have you ever wondered why Thanksgiving music doesn’t exist? I myself think it would be a refreshing alternative to hearing Christmas music in October.

Being grateful and giving thanks sets the stage for holiday gift giving, though so little time is spent on Thanksgiving, setting this stage often falls short, especially when it comes to teaching gratefulness to our children. Children live in the moment. They want what they want when they want it, and they must be taught to delay gratification. As a parent, you know this teaching doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process, which must be modeled consistently over time in order for it to sink in. And while many children are polite and kind throughout the majority of the year, the abundance of holiday toy commercials at this time of year can turn any child’s behavior from grateful to greedy in a matter of moments. So if you want to get rid of the holiday “gimmes,” avoid mile-long letters to Santa, and keep some money in the bank this year, follow this simple rule: Give your children only three gifts this Christmas: a gift they want, a gift they need, and a gift to donate.


One of the many joys of Christmas is seeing the delight on children’s faces as they squeal with excitement and anticipation while opening highly sought after presents. Give your children a gift they truly want. Set a price range to keep the playing field level amongst siblings and have your children make a list of three potential “gifts of want” in order to maintain an element of surprise and cut you a little slack in case one of the wanted items in unattainable.


Have your kids choose an item they need, whether it be a new winter coat, underwear, or batteries for their travel electronics. The idea here is to enforce appreciation for resources and necessities. If children are given absolutely everything they need, the moment they need it, they will have less appreciation for the necessities of life, and they’ll develop the expectation that they will be able to have these necessities at their beck and call whenever they’re depleted or outgrown.


Provide your children with a set amount of money to donate to a worthy organization. Help them research different organizations and give them the option of pooling their money in order to make a larger donation together as a family. Encourage your children to get involved in the decision of where to donate, which will likely lead to a discussion about values regarding why this particular cause is important to them. If donating money isn’t your thing, volunteer time together as a family at a soup kitchen, winter clothes or toys drive, or another charitable event.

What’s your secret to teaching your kids how to be grateful? Let me know your thoughts below.


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