Taking Back the Holidays: Meaningful Family Traditions
Getting Past the Grinches
The holidays can often bring out the very worst in people. The day after Thanksgiving is a perfect example of the chaos and greed that happens all over America as retail stores open their doors to officially begin "the most wonderful time of the year". It is a stampede; patrons busting through the doors and trampling those who are not quick enough to get out of the way. Men and women screaming, fighting, and yanking toys and electronics out of each others hands all for the sake of a bargain. This is only the beginning. Throughout the month of December, everywhere you go you see longer lines, traffic jams, and cranky people. Facebook and Twitter is buzzing with arguments about whether or not to protest retail stores who display "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". The Grinches are everywhere. Bah! Humbug! Whatever happened to "peace on earth and goodwill toward men (AND women)"?
Making Holiday Memories That Matter
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas, or none of the above, make the month of December a time of peace. Spend time with friends and family, make homemade projects with your kids, lend a helping hand to a stranger. Our children are exposed to the consumer madness at an early age. Television advertisements and online ads target our kids, enticing them with the latest and greatest toys and video games. Their friends at school will talk about what they are getting for Christmas and your kids will want the same. It is the childhood version of "keeping up with the Joneses". We have a chance to raise a generation who will be less concerned with "things" and more concerned about people. We have to start somewhere. I would like to share my list of holiday traditions from both childhood and present day that my family and I enjoy together. As I have discovered, one of these days my children will be more grateful for the memories we have created together than they will be for the presents they received. Feel free to make some of these traditions your own.
1. I plan a day in December where my kids and I get together and make cookies. Afterward, we watch a favorite holiday movie and nosh on freshly made treats.
2. My sister and I started this tradition. Early in December we will meet at one or the others home, pull out the crafting supplies, and make homemade cards to send to family and friends. The kids have fun with this project and can make cards for their own friends and teachers.
3. During the holidays you can find several organizations that collect and distribute gifts and food to families in need. I think our favorite so far has been the shoe box ministry. The kids can decorate a shoe box and help fill it with goodies that will be given to a child for Christmas. You will also find angel trees in many places with gift wishes from children written on paper angels. Being involved and having your children participate in programs such as these help teach them a valuable lesson in giving. I will add that being involved along with your kids in programs that help others in need is a good thing to do year around.
4. Since childhood, Christmas Eve has always been a special time for all of the family to get together. We make homemade chili with Fritos, cheese, and sour cream. After tummies are full and the night has set in we grab a cup of hot chocolate (preferably in a travel cup) and a candy cane, hop in the car, and search for the neighborhoods with the best Christmas light displays.
5. My dad's traditional family Christmas breakfast is always scrambled eggs, cheese, and bacon or sausage on toasted English muffins served a steaming mug of hot chocolate with the little marshmallows on top. He always has a selection of holiday music playing to set the mood.
6. This year my husband would like to start a new tradition. He would like to have each person participating write "well wishes" on Chinese lanterns and launch them on Christmas Eve.
These are a few traditions that have created fond memories and built stronger family bonds. What are some of the traditions you enjoy with your families? Share them in the comment section below.
By: Traci Ruffner