Mmmmm . . . the smell of pumpkin pie as it fills the house, the sight of twinkly lights decorating the neighborhood, the sound of kids laughing as they sled down a hill . . . YIPPIE! The holidays are here! (Well, almost.)
My favorite part of the holidays is the traditions—be it the lighting of the menorah, the “Black Friday” trip to the mall, singing Christmas carols, or picking out a tree. The purpose of tradition may not be clear to your child, but as they grow, the traditions will become more and more important to them. Little things that are passed down through generations will be remembered by your kids when they are grown—and then passed on to their kids. Traditions instill values and bind us, one generation to the next.
But, traditions don’t have to be old to be fun! It is never to late to start new traditions in your own family, so here are a few suggestions you might want to try:
1) Cook something Grandma used to make or remembers from her childhood. If Grandma doesn’t have some suggestions, you can Google recipes from whatever country your family originated from. At my house, we make latkes—potato pancakes—with lox and sour cream.
2) Make a gingerbread house or gingerbread men. There are easy to make kits readily available. Allow each of your kids to decorate their own gingerbread house or gingerbread man.
3) Make a Hanukkah craft! There are tons available on Amazon, and I love decorating my house with crafts that my son has made over the years. Each year we put up Jamie’s painted clay menorah, his papier-mâché dradel and, for our tree, the painted seashells that we drilled holes in to hang as ornaments!
4) Bake holiday cookies and then go door-to-door delivering them, or have your child deliver them to their teachers. Nothing says holiday spirit like sharing a gift from your very own kitchen!
5) Hop in the car and check out the neighborhood’s holiday lights or, if your area isn’t all that festive, head to one that is!
6) See a holiday-themed musical or play such as The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol . . . or even A Very Lamb Chop Holiday!
7) Plan some winter-themed outdoor activity, such as skiing, sledding, or ice skating. This is also a great way to work off holiday calories!
8) Serve food at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. And remember, you don’t have to do it on the holiday to make service to others a holiday tradition!
9) Netflix your favorite holiday movies to amuse the kids on Christmas Eve or to get them out of your hair during the long school break.
10) Have your family create a “thankful” list to remind yourselves of what makes you as a family smile!
Our family loves to read, so we have always made the reading of holiday-themed books one of our traditions. When Jamie was little, I read to him, and now he reads to me or his little cousins.
Two of my favorites are Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko about a little kid who celebrates both holidays (as my son does) and Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou.
This year’s new book—guaranteed to be a tradition for years to come—is The Christmas Wish, a book written by a husband-wife team, Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen, who illustrated the sweet story with pictures of their own little girl, Anja. Anja wants to be one of Santa’s Helpers and she journeys to the North Pole with a little help from some amazing animal friends in pursuit of her wish. I dare you to read it and not smile!
So, from my family to yours, may all your traditions be sweet ones!