Christmas is a wonderful time for seeing friends and family, sharing Christmas cheer and exchanging gifts. However, without being too depressing, Christmas is generally a time of reflection for a lot of us, as the end of the year beckons and inevitably, before we are bombarded with “New Year, New Start” messages, we look back, generally on all the failures, short comings and different things we wish to change in the weeks ahead.

Christmas is a difficult time for a lot of us as, aside from the reflection element, we are also exhausted with depictions of large, pleasant family gatherings, laced with messages of togetherness, abundance and happy endings. While these depictions are nice to look at, for the majority of us they are ultimately untrue. These depictions create strain on the majority of us, especially those who have little children at Christmas, as expectations are placed on people that are unrealistic or unattainable, for one reason or another. For this reason, it’s important to encourage children to exercise gratitude which is a fantastic addition to anyone’s daily practice.

With children, introducing the concept of gratitude can be a little bit tricky.  Children, being egocentric little beings, do not always understand things that do not directly affect them, as we usually measure what to be grateful for by comparing ourselves to someone we perceive as having less than us. Gratitude is more than just saying “please” and “thank you” for things we receive, it is a genuine appreciation for all that we have. One fantastic way to introduce the concept and the context of this kind of gratitude would be to show this video at Christmas, with words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast - it’s a wonderfully compelling visual appreciation.