Celebrating the Holidays With Meaning: Christmas Traditions
With every holiday comes its own set of traditions and for every family a way of celebrating that is unique to them. So when two individuals come together and start a family of their own, each bringing their own traditions into the mix, the question becomes where do we go from here? Ideally it’s creating a holiday that is a mixture of the familial traditions rooted in each of your family’s histories, while embracing and establishing traditions that are special to the core of your family, the one you created when you came together.
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With all of the hullabaloo that surrounds the Christmas season, it can be easy to lose the meaning behind the season, to maybe let a little Grinch-y-ness enter your heart, so let’s talk some holiday traditions that will help you and yours to celebrate this Christmas season with meaning.
Giving Back – From Toys for Tots to Mitten Trees and more, it’s easier than ever to “pay it forward” during the holiday season and beyond. It can be something as simple as shoveling your neighbor’s walk, caroling at local care centers, volunteering at the shelter, donating to the Food Bank…
Cookies, Goodies, and Candies, oh my! As you pull out your apron and gather your little elves to dive into the baking bonanza that is practically synonymous with the season, don’t just bake any old thing. Choose the recipes that have made their way through your family’s history, dazzle your children with tales of where the recipe came from and your own memories of making them as a child. While there are a variety of beloved goodies in my family's recipe bank, the most important Christmas goody is the Christmas Wreath (made of cornflakes and marshmallows).
Holiday Movie Magic – Confession: I have no recollection of ever watching It’s a Wonderful Life, but there are certain holiday movies that have become must-watch necessities to complete the season. Sharing them, snuggled on the couch with your children over hot cocoa and popcorn seem the perfect wind-down activity in the midst of all the holiday chaos. (For us it’s the Home Alones, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Prep & Landing, Santa Clause, Mickey Mouse’s Christmas Carol…)
Snowman Building – This year, so far, we’re seeing the makings of a winter wonderland that is perfect snowman building snow. So bundle up the family and head out to create a family of snowmen in your yard. Follow it up with hot cocoa and a reading of Caralyn Behner’s Snowmen at Night, rounding things out with your own theories on what sort of adventures your snowmen will partake in as day fades into night.
There’s a story there…As you pull the ornaments and decorations out of their boxes, fill your children in on the history of where they came from. And don’t forget to make new memories by making new ornaments and decorations. Heck, the gingerbread house I made in kindergarten was a part of our holiday décor into my 20's, when it finally fell apart.
Pickle, anyone? Speaking of ornaments, if you’re looking for a fun new tradition this Christmas, consider picking up a Christmas Pickle ornament. The backstory on the Christmas Pickle is that it’s hidden deep in the boughs of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and the kiddo who first discovers it on Christmas morning gets an extra something special.
Christmas Lights – Driving around finding the best of the best holiday scenes put to light can be a magical tradition to begin as a family, however…For the sanity of yourselves and your children, if you are a family that opens gifts on Christmas Eve, maybe take in the lights before that blessed evening. Just a thought. (And maybe speaking from the experiences of my own childhood…)
Books – Whether it’s a reading of the actual Christmas story – the birth of Jesus – or it’s Twas the Night Before Christmas or Merry Christmas, Stinky Face, or whatever falls on your list of holiday favorites, take the time to share them with your children.
The Christmas season is such a beautiful, magical time and there are so very many traditions to take part in as a family. But it’s not about jamming every last bit of everything into the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas; it’s about the love shared and the time spent. Wishing you and yours the very Merriest of Christmas’s this year, from me and mine.