Dec 21, 2009 9:19 AM by Jamie Smith and Adam Atchison
Christmas can be a tough time for families who are struggling to make ends meet, but even those who are on a tight budget can find meaningful ways to spend time together for the holidays.
Dr. Juli Slattery, a family psychologist at Focus on the Family, says the rough economy may just force families to think beyond the Christmas lights and gifts. Instead, she recommends spending fun and meaningful time together by volunteering. For instance, standing together at the red kettle at a local store, putting meals together and filling up plates for those in need, or even welcoming a local military family or student into their home. This teaches children to put others first.
"I'll bet if we think about it we can all think of one or two people that could just really use that encouragement, that could use that comfort and fellowship with others this Christmas." Slattery says.
Bill Sisterson is teaching his grandkids a whole new way to look at Christmas, by bringing the family together to ring a tiny Salvation Army bell. The family is building the kind of tradition that money just can't buy.
Sisterson says "We talked with them about what it means. They're doing something to help others, people in need. By doing this they're helping. They like that." Sisterson is hoping the time he and his family takes to collect small donations together will make a lasting impact.
Dr. Slattery also has some tips to help keep the holidays happy at home. If you have relatives visiting, she recommends not trying to sort out conflicts at Christmas. Save the deeper conversations for another time. Also, consider lowering your expectations. Don't expect a certain kind of gift or an apology. Instead, express love and appreciation for your family.