(A guest takes a picture of the window display as Macy’s Herald Square celebrates their Christmas Window Unveiling in New York. (Brian Ach/AP Images for Macy’s))

Creating our family’s holiday traditions, including paying it forward

With the holiday season in full swing, I have been thinking about holiday traditions and the importance of these in children’s lives. Growing up, my fondest holiday memory was going to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. So this year, I thought it was important to start that tradition with my son.

Traditions can be anything; they can be something that many people do, (like go to church or watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade) or something that is unique to your family. Traditions don’t have to be expensive, or require a lot of props. A tradition can be as simple as making holiday cards or cookies for your loved ones, building a snowman the first time it snows, or making hot chocolate and watching a movie.

As Enzo gets older, I am already thinking of the traditions I want to establish in our family.  Aside from visiting the Rockefeller Center tree, there is another tradition I want to create, that one of giving back.

For me, one of the most important things I want to instill in Enzo is the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate. For example, the holidays are a great time to clean out closets and make way for new toys and clothes. This is a great opportunity to explain to kids that we are not going to discard things, but that we are going to share them with other families.  Even young children will understand some part of that, even if they do not understand the whole concept.  We can teach them at an early age, and making a tradition that we foster every year,

There are countless places that will help you pay it forward and teach children the importance of giving back. Here are some ideas:

Unwanted baby items? Check out Baby Buggy

Got Coats? Donate your gently used coats! In the New York area, you can use NY Cares Coat Drive – collecting coats until February 7th, 2014

Teach children about hunger and donate to an organization helping feed others, like City Harvest or Feeding America or soup kitchens.

Looking for a long-term commitment? Sponsor a child! Check out World Vision  or Save the Children

Give a goat! (or a llama…) Heifer International  has great options on donating animals to families all over the world, who in turn commit to paying it forward when offspring is born.

Finally, don’t forget your local organizations! Small organizations in local neighborhoods need support.

By creating traditions that help the less fortunate, we are teaching our kids how important it is to pay it forward. These types of traditions will teach kids to be compassionate and caring, and build a better future for all.

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