By Jodee Weiland
When my children were little, we had a very special Christmas Eve tradition each year.
Of course, we did all the things most people do, like reading Christmas stories, putting out cookies for Santa, and more. But of all our Christmas traditions, my favorite was teaching my children to say thank you to those special people who work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to keep us all safe during the holidays. The people I am referring to are the men and women of the police department and fire department in our local area.
Every year, we would bake a variety of Christmas cookies. On Christmas Eve, my children and I would put together a Christmas plate loaded with all the different cookies we made that year. We would cover the plate and put some ribbon on it with a card wishing our local fire and police department a Merry Christmas and thanking them for taking care of us over the holidays. When we finished preparing the plate, we would drive over to the local police and fire department in our area and deliver the plate of cookies. The children would thank them personally for taking care of us and keeping us safe, and then they would hand them the plate of cookies as a gesture of our gratitude. Needless to say, it was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of these men and women as they accepted the cookies and told the children how much they appreciated the gesture. Even better still, were the smiles on the faces of my children!
If I had small children today, I might consider doing this a little differently. Sadly but true, these days the police and fire department in your areas may be somewhat reluctant to accept a plate of homemade cookies, unless you live in a small town area where everyone knows each other. But if homemade cookies are a problem, there are so many other ways to let your children say thank you. They could write letters and hand deliver them to the fire and police departments with a box of store bought cookies or candy that are sealed. Another idea would be to have the children help you create a gift basket filled with packaged nuts, cookies, candies, popcorn, coffees, teas, and more. You can even have the children write and illustrate a Christmas story of their own about how the police and fire departments help keep them safe. Or perhaps have the children draw Christmas pictures and frame them, so they can be used as holiday decorations. It doesn’t matter what they do to say thank you. What matters is letting your children know, it is important to say thank you to those who protect us.
Whatever your children decide to do to say thank you, it will make a difference for these men and women because everyone likes to be told they are appreciated and especially, when the message comes from children. Too often, we forget about those who are not home celebrating with their families, so we can be safe with our families. If you should decide to add this gesture of gratitude to your Christmas traditions, I’m sure many of you can be very creative in coming up with ideas and ways to do this. Just keep in mind that the members of the police and fire departments will remember this gesture fondly. Teaching children appreciation and respect is important, so consider taking the time to do something like this with your children. You won’t regret it, and it really is fun to do. Make a memory, and enjoy!