I was talking with my friend yesterday, sipping tea and nattering about the joys of Christmas while our offspring played in the garden. My friend mentioned her horror of those cringe-worthy moments at Christmas where Aunt Ethel gives your kid some undies or socks and (being kids) they say, "Awww, socks????" (Or worse, they run out of gifts and blurt, "Have I got any more?" coming off looking like greedy brats. Cringe.)
We were laughing and remembering those cringe-factor moments from our kids' early Christmases, when I was reminded of a fun game we played a few years back with the older two. Appreciation Training.
As I explained the game to my friend, she got all enthusiastic and said, "We should totally do this! Like together. The kids will get into it more if there are other kids there..."
So we made a plan. On Christmas Eve Day we are going to get our kids together and stick lollies on our packaged gingerbread houses. Then we are going to have a fun game of Appreciation Training, in preparation for Christmas Day. I feel fairly confident that we should avoid the worst of the Cringe-worthy moments with Aunt Ethel this year...
Here's how to Play...
Collect a bunch of totally random bits and pieces. Scour the junk drawer, the washing pile, the recycle bin. I am talking old socks, bottle tops, giant undies, pegs... Collect enough for roughly three "gifts" per kid. Then wrap them up and pop them in a bag. You will also need a bag of lollies/sweets as "rewards".
Assemble the children and explain to them the rules. They pick a present from the bag, open it and do their best to show gratitude and say something positive about the present. Extra points (lollies) awarded for creativity. Then let the fun begin....
This is truly a good laugh, as well as being a powerful lesson in the art of gift-appreciation. It's not that we are teaching our children to be fake, rather we are teaching them socially-appropriate responses to the gift of woolly socks, helping avoid Aunt Ethel's mortification or displeasure and most importantly reminding them that it's the THOUGHT that COUNTS.
Aunt Ethel hobbled on her arthritic knees all the way to KMart. She stood in front of the sock display and hand-picked those socks just for you, Jimmy. She made an effort. She spent her hard-earned retirement pennies. THAT's why we show appreciation to Aunt Ethel.
In fact in our family we only give Santa the credit for the content of the Stockings. The rest of the pile is duly credited to the people who spent the time perusing junk mail for great deals, listening into conversations about Christmas Wishes and braving the madding crowd to secure those wishes for beloved offspring. In other words, Mum and Dad. We get the ecstatic Thankyou's, the gleeful hugs and kisses we have earned.
(And just in case we have missed a beat and they didn't really want those Superman Boxer Shorts....? Well, they have been well-trained in the art of appreciation anyway...)
May you have a very Merry Appreciative Christmas!