It is that time of year when Christmas songs are playing in every shopping centre, the latest toys are being advertised nonstop on the television, schools are frantically rehearsing their festive plays and parents are wondering what it’s really all about!
It is perhaps inciteful to look at the looming Christmas season from a school’s point of view, especially an international one where so many children celebrate in a world of different ways from welcoming Zwarte Piet on the evening of December 5 in the Netherlands and on December 6 in Belgium, to Hanukkah which falls on December 18 this year, to celebrating Christmas Day itself. All serve very important social, cultural and religious purposes.
The Christmas holidays, in fact, bring together people of all faiths and even those that have none. Families gather together and reflect on the year gone by, converse, socialise and consider their plans for the year to come.
This coming together, having a special day to look forward to, and even knowing that a family will be altogether under one roof for the holidays, has been referred to by sociologists as “collective effervescence”. Christmas spirit is very real and is now being quantified!
Christmas for the majority evokes powerful feelings of happiness and positivity, and encourages people to want to come together for the greater good.
It is this very essence of Christmas that, as parents and educators alike, we should surely be encouraging, irrespective of our own beliefs. Christmas is a powerful season of positive emotion, and we should be helping the next generation consider the true unselfish joy of Christmas – of giving, spending time together and helping others.
It can be a whole school event such as the Charity Christmas Bazaar that we recently held at our school involving the whole community. It was a real community event and certainly led to all of our pupils from three- to 14-year-olds feeling a sense of positive Christmas spirit.
Charity is certainly a keyway of unlocking a true and positive effervescent joy. Talk to your children about the real meaning of the Christmas spirit, that not all children are as fortunate as others in the world at large. Try to find a way to be involved as a whole family, be it at a school or within the local community. Let your actions as a family show and really exhibit the joy of giving.
One of the most precious gifts of all is time, especially giving time to family in the hectic world that we all seem to inhabit. Encourage your children to call their relatives regularly, especially grandparents, and involve the whole family in games and activities during the holiday period and beyond.
As a family, you can take part in activities that help others within the community, from creating Christmas charity shoeboxes to collecting food for the needy. Instil and encourage the importance of helping others at this time of the year and beyond.
Embracing the spirit of Christmas and all of the celebrations associated with it definitely increases our appreciation of all that is positive in life. By showing and leading the way as adults, we can ensure that the next generation will follow. Give the greatest gift of all, that of giving.
It’s Christmas time! It’s a season of Love, Joy, Peace and Cheer!
By Penelope Best, Head of School,
Eupheus International School, Loulé