When I was young, my grandmother made my sister and I a special calendar to hang on the wall during the month of December. It was a large rectangle of red and white felt, and there were 25 candy canes tied to it. Each day we removed one candy cane until it was Christmas. I still remember that calendar fondly, but my total focus as a child was what happened when all the candy canes were gone: Opening all those presents under the tree! My sister and I always counted each present we were going to get—and made sure we had the same number of gifts. We would shake the boxes trying to figure out what they were, and one year we even carefully unwrapped two of our matching gifts to sneak a peek, and then rewrapped them so our parents wouldn’t know. (I can tell you all this now that we finally “‘fessed up” to our mom a few years ago!) Obviously, there is nothing wrong with children looking forward to presents, but do we really want that to be the main focus of this Christmas season? How can we help our children keep it all in perspective—to enjoy and be thankful for any gifts received, as well as being excited about giving to others? It begins with us setting the example! As we make our Christmas list of family and friends, take time to really think about what would benefit or be an encouragement to each of them instead of just going out to grab something so we can mark it off the list. Ask your kids for their ideas, too. We can also go out of our way to be gracious and patient with those who are working in restaurants and retail stores during this busy season. Our kids are watching us, and they are learning. We want to encourage you to sit down with your children and talk about the importance of giving, not just getting, this Christmas. Brainstorm ideas about how you can give to others as a family and individually. And remember giving to others doesn’t always mean buying a gift. It can be gifts of time, thoughtfulness, and encouragement, too. Hopefully the following list will help you think of fun ways to focus on others during this wonderful season! And please, share you ideas with us on our Facebook page!