Have you ever noticed how the world comes alive around Christmas?
Strangers we run into at the mall or out at night, everyone is polite, caring,
smiling. Christmas brings out the good in us and as moms, we have this extra
special opportunity to teach our children not only what is happening within
Christmas, but what they can do as well.
Here are five simple lessons you can teach your children
about the attitude of Giving at Christmas.
Christmas is about being kind! It’s not about buying gifts to wrap as much as it is about giving the gifts of a smile, saying hello or Merry Christmas to strangers. It’s about our attitude and realizing no matter how old we are, we all have the power to bring joy to another’s day, just by what we say. To connect with others all we have to do is “use our words”. So say Merry Christmas to the grocery clerk when checking out. Look at and Say Merry Christmas to the person ringing the Salvation Army bell. Say Merry Christmas to all those you come across and let the love of this season shine through you, just by saying a simple phrase.
Christmas is about being together! During the holidays I always tried to bake more because it was something I could do with my children. We made cookies, cakes, breads, candies. It was so fun to do together. It was fun to see the final products all decorated and beautiful. It was fun to have works of art that could be eaten just everywhere in the house.
Christmas is about making your own gifts-you know, using your own two hands! When we baked, cut paper snowflakes or made ornaments, we always made sure to make many to give as gifts. This made great gifts for neighbors, the mailman, teachers and people at work. Many times my girls would give a simple gift of something they made to an elderly neighbor or someone at a facility and feel proud that they made this with their own hands and imaginations. Then when they saw the look of the person they gave the gift to, they would feel proud again. It was easy to reinforce by me telling them, they just gave a gift of love.
Christmas is about singing. I can’t count how many times we would walk the halls of a hospital, rehab facility or retirement center all dressed up singing Christmas Carols. All the elderly or injured would sit up in bed and smile. Those that could, would come out to the common room to hear us singing. The joy it brought to the faces of those who listened to the children singing was amazing. This made my children sit up straighter, sing louder and lovingly be able to walk up and offer those listening a hello or Merry Christmas without being afraid. They got to see the joy that came to the faces of strangers they were singing to and feel that joy themselves.
Christmas is on purpose and for a reason! Through every Christmas play, carol, and story, there was always the purpose of the season to be told. In reading the story of Christmas, my girls knew their life had meaning, they were brought forth and called by God to be on the earth at this time in history. By telling the story, again and again, this grounded them on how “on purpose” God was by bringing Jesus through Mary. This translated into the importance of our lives and the lives of those around us. It also translated into the importance of how we treated one another. After all, it was God who said: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”.
Even though my children are grown and gone (one just returned), I read the Christmas story every year. For by telling the story again and again we are reminded that God created us to be His family, this is why Jesus came. Then we can realize that every life on earth has importance and purpose, and we can live our own lives boldly, on purpose too.
By teaching our children these simple joys we really are
living out the simple point of purpose too. We instill in our babies the
importance of their actions, attitudes and mindset. We teach them that we all
have the power to give a kind word or a word of encouragement. We teach them
that everything isn’t always about “us”! We teach them that the Thrill of Hope
is living in an attitude of kindness, giving unselfishly, giving and using the
gifts you have and that life can be lived on purpose and for a reason. And when
we live on purpose we bring rejoicing to a weary world.
This Christmas season I wish you all joy as you live in the
midst of The Thrill of Hope!
I had an amazing opportunity to use my portrait skills to assist the messaging of St. Madeline Sophie’s Center, a facility of heart, serving adults with developmental disabilities. It was their 50th Anniversary!
If you know me, you know I am passionate about capturing the authentic person using my camera, and even more passionate about photographing relationships. On this special day, I was asked to photograph Gail and her daughter Ally. I adore mother and daughter relationships, as I have daughters.
Being a mother-daughter portrait, I suggested that prior to coming, they make a memory and go have professional hair, makeup, and nails done. What a fun day and a wonderful memory for them together! They came in looking their best!
Both Gail and Ally are both absolutely beautiful inside and out! What I learned in photographing them is that Ally has no strangers in her life, just friends she hasn’t met yet. She is outgoing, concerned for everyone, tenderhearted and so very inquisitive. She is an artist and St. Mad’s (as they are loving known as) provides her the ability to use her great artistic abilities.
Gail her mom is a mix of elegance and grace. I loved capturing them together, how they giggled, laughed and were inquisitive with their surroundings. Such grace and such love Gail has for her daughter, I caught myself tearing up a few times. We wandered around the beautiful gardens of St. Mad’s and into their vineyard, where they explored all the living beauty around them and I watched them have fun together! It was wonderful to be a part of. 🙂 Thank you to St. Mad’s for calling on me!
I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with love, laughter, and crazy chaotic family fun!
While out walking my dogs yesterday, my neighbor stopped me on the street for a quick chat. As our conversation progressed, she asked me about photographing her 3 children. So I asked her when her last portrait was done with her kids, I was surprised to hear her say what every young mom I come across says: “I want the memories of my children and I’m not good in front of a camera, I don’t like how I look!” Now, she’s in her 30’s and amazingly beautiful; so imagine my surprise! Here is what I told her-
When my youngest daughter was getting married we went through crates of photographs to put together the story of her life for the wedding. As we went through these images and relived each day of every one of them, she looked at me and said: “Wow Mom, You did an amazing job of documenting our lives, but you’re not in any of the pictures!! She was right-I always thought that I would “lose 10 lbs first” or didn’t like whatever it was about myself and dodged the opportunity to be photographed with my children. But I was so wrong!
She then proceeded to scold me and let me know how her memories were of all of us and she wanted the images to go along with them! I can still hear her words: “Mom, do you see how selfish that was?” “We love you and want you as you are!” How could I argue with that? How could ANY MOM argue with that?!
There are 3 things I learned from my daughter because of this, that I want to share with you:
This is what I got from my daughters-I believe they speak on behalf of all daughters to their mothers!
1). You are never more beautiful than you are today. And today is really all you have. You are their mom, and they love you no matter what your ideals of yourself are.
2). Your family portrait is about your family. How your children adore you, how you look at each other, feel about each other, live and have fun together. It is also about how your children will remember their childhood. Eventually, they will tell their children (your grandchildren) about their memories, and if you’ve done your job well, they will have lot’s of photographs to show them.
3). How you feel about yourself will affect how they feel about themselves. If you are timid due to the way you look, they will become timid with the way they look. This point she made sure to let me know about!
I believe everyone should have an image of themselves that they love. One that captures the essence of who you are, looking your very best. I strive to provide everyone with this type of image.
Someday when you are older and your children are gone, you can sit and smile at the beautiful images that are hanging on the walls of your home that tell your family’s story. Then you’ll laugh and remember how wonderfully chaotic and completely filled up your life was when your children were growing up; and all those photographs will show is your beautiful self, surrounded by your beautiful family!
Celebrate your life, celebrate the lives of your family, the love of your spouse and the love of your children. Get in front of the camera and keep your mind thinking about how much you love them while you are doing it. Because then, this is what the portrait will be about!
From my heart to yours,
Thought for the day: “Sometimes life is completely complicated, but you decide to make it simple because you accept it to be beautiful and it means that your choice is to be happy” -Ky Vanchhay