Sunday, December 18, 2011

No matter what holiday you celebrate this season, the one thing we all must do is shop for gifts. Honestly though, I'm a little burnt out. I may have a good eye, and I may be even be intuative about people,  but I am the world's worst gift shopper. Just ask my kids.

A few years ago, one of my kids burst into tears when he opened his present. And after a recent trip, I brought my 10 year old daughter a Barbie. This is how it went down:

Simi (hands on hips):  "Seriously Mom? ...Barbie?"
Mom: "Didn't you just recently beg me to get you some more Barbies?"
Simi (rolling here eyes): "That was like a million years ago when I was 9!"


Well, I'm just done. Yesterday, after listening to my kids go on and on and on and on whining to me about what they want for Chanukah I just snapped. I was like, "Why do you think you just 'get' presents? The way you guys are acting I have no desire to buy you anything! The idea is the thought behind the gift, not how much I spend. Every year I wrack my brains to get thoughtful gifts and everyone just complains. I mean I'm not spending $$$ on an Xbox 360 or a laptop or anything else that costs in the $100's! I have 5 kids plus a son in law, so multiply that by 6. And anyway, I give you everything you need everyday and instead of thinking, what can I do for Mom, you only think about yourselves!" Yes, that's me when I get upset. I can get a little dramatic.

So instead of posting 'great gift ideas' or 'fabulous wish lists', I'm going to post some great ideas about teaching kids a little bit about gratitude during this challenging time of potential greediness...which by the way, is the polar opposite of what Chanukah represents. Chanukah is about bringing light into our dark world (during the darkest time of the year by the way) by focusing on spirituality instead of materialism.

Here are some tips for cultivating gratitude with our children (taken from Rage Against the Minivan).

1. Serve others -try to find ways that your children can take part in helping others. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, feeding the homeless, or sponsoring a foster child are all great ways to teach your child about perspective.

2. Affirm each other – Children (and adults) have a hard time being thankful when they are running on empty emotionally. Make sure that you are building them up each day so that a lack of self-esteem does not hinder their ability to be thankful. Consider doing a short round of affirmations for your children at every meal.

3. Take a perspective-building service trip. It can be easy for kids to lose perspective. We live in the land of privilege, and even those of us battered by the recent financial storm are still some of the wealthiest people on earth. Just several hours from our country’s borders, people are living in abject poverty. When your kids are old enough, take them on a house-building trip, or get involved in a service project.

4. Make your children earn things. Children who are given everything they want will have a harder time being thankful for what they have. Use age-appropriate techniques to allow kids to work for the things they want, whether it be a week of chores for a new game, or a part-time job to help pay for their car. Help your kids see the value in the things they have.

5. Regularly keep a list of things you are thankful for. A daily gratitude journal is a great habit, and something that your family could institute at the end of each day. Stopping to reflect on life’s blessings will help keep you and your children more positive and content.

6. Model saying thank you for the little things. Show your children that you don’t take the small stuff for granted. Thank your spouse for what they do each day. Thank the service people around you. Thank your child’s teacher. Give your child the example of a life that is led by appreciating others.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
- Melody Beattie

Now that we got that out of the way, let's party! Here are some fabulous Chanukah tablescapes:

Dreidle fabulous!

Love the blue tinsel on the chandelier.

All photos are from The Jewish Hostess. Check out her fabulous site!

So how do you handle your gift giving dilemmas? Please share all your ideas for having a happy and peaceful Holiday season!

Happy Chanukah!!

Until next time...


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  1. Wow Chanukah never looked so beautiful...absolutely gorgeous!!
    I love this list and how true it is, I got a good laugh reading your post and can sooo relate. The idea of doing for others is a foreign concept to most kids but its amazing how when they roll up their sleeves and get to work, they shed all that entitlement and pretension about what they WANT and put their energies into GIVING. I think we need to do it more, and I am trying to get my own kids involved more in helping others which naturally takes the attention away from their own needs and puts them on those who REALLY need things. Beautiful message!!

  2. What a great reminder to us all, Sharon, and I so agree with your sentiments...every child needs to learn how to help others to appreciate what they have. Now on to Chanukah and the AMAZING tablescapes...absolutely fabulous!! Hope you have a wonderful day ~

  3. i know the feeling, i do the same with my daughter... this is a great list to follow thanks for sharing with us ;-) its important to teach children of the importance of things instead of just the oneself.

    love the table decor , beautiful

  4. Great tips to all! To be honest aside from a couple of friends and a small gift or two for the husband we don’t exchange gifts with our families. It’s mainly because we’re all of an age where we don’t need anything, stuff is just more stuff. So we ask our families to make donations in our name to help another. The Tiffany theme seems to be a popular one this year we’ve gone to tow p[arties and one restaurant with the same theme and it’s beautiful!

    Lovely post! Enjoy your Sunday!

  5. You are such a good Mom. The table setting is so pretty. I think we all need to affirm one another and it's true, it can be tough when we are running on empty. I always say I'm going to start a gratitude journal but never follow through. Perhaps this could be a resolution for me in 2012. I am on the hunt for the perfect Header photos.. hee hee. I hope to find them tonight!! xoxo

  6. Sharon, thanks for making me laugh early in the morning.

    I want my kids to learn that it is better to give rather than receive. We keep working on that. Thanks for the good reminders/tips. And the photos are gorgeous, as always. But I must say, I am starting to get tired of the blue/white/silver for Hanukkah. I am going for other colors next year. xo, Oksana

  7. Great post. Over the years, we have had similar issues. Gifts, especially expensive ones, were not a big part of my childhood this time of year - it was very low key. By contrast, I'll never forget the year my husband had the bright (sarcasm) idea we should give our son 1 small gift a night when he was 4 years old. By night 3he was completely incorrigible and we'll certainly never do that again!

    This Chanukah we are focused on dedicating each night to a special purpose or goal that we hope will bring light to others in this world. Then, we will dedicate ourselves to each of these goals in the upcoming year.

    PS I'm sharing the gorgeous tablescapes with a colleague looking for tasteful Chanukah decorating ideas!

  8. Hi Sharon, I just discovered your blog and see that you share beautiful things, so I am in : ) these are great tablescapes, thanks for inspiration : ) I would easily comment on all the posts below but I am quite sleepy now, so will be back : ) Have a lovely week.


  9. This tablescape is so beautiful!! I'm so impressed.

  10. WOW:) these pictures are incredible I love the table settings :) absoloutly gorgeous :) xxx

  11. Hi lovely! First, thanks so much for stopping by Ooh La Frou Frou last week ... I was out of town toward the end of the week and weekend and didn't have a chance to get back to you, but ALWAYS love when you stop by. Happy Happy Chanukah, darling. What beautiful table decor!! So love all of the sparkle of the season! xoxoxo

    Sandy at Ooh La Frou Frou

  12. each tablescape was more beautiful than the next! Happy holidays to you...and YES..these are the lessons to teach our young ones..its not the material things we should be celebrating and holding dear..its our good fortune, health and family!
    Happy week to you.