Holidays can provide us many opportunities to show our children how much we love them. In some cultures so much emphasis is put on celebrating that children can become greedy. Of all the holidays that we celebrate, Christmas and birthdays are often the times of year that our children are very self centered. As much as we love to give them their heart's desire on these special days, it is also important to communicate to them that these are days that we should be especially thankful. But how can we prevent materialism and advertising from affecting our children, especially on those days when they receive the most gifts and toys? One idea takes a little planning and time but is well worth the effort. Through the year pick a day each month or every 3-6 months to have your children go through their clothes and toys and get rid of anything that they don't play with or wear anymore. Put it in a box or bag. The week of Christmas or their birthday, take the toys and clothes to a second hand store or a charitable organization so that other children can benefit from them on special days as well. Talk to your children about how fortunate they were to have all these things given to them and remind them that not all children have had that opportunity. Another idea would be to pick a number (perhaps the number of gifts they are going to receive on any given holiday) and have them find that number of toys to give away. Not only will they learn to appreciate what they have but it will also help with clutter in the toy box. And of course, in both of these instances they will also be taught generosity. With some thought if is not difficult to encourage thankfulness in our children. Thankfulness is not an activity, it's a state of mind that needs to be fed, trained and nurtured. Eventually it becomes habit and a part of their personality.