Family traditions are the ties that bind and one of the reasons that holidays can be a very special time for families. When you think back to your own childhood, you may have fond memories of your own Christmas past. These are the memories of holiday traditions... things you did as a child that you probably now pass on to your own family. These constant threads make the holidays more meaningful and ensure our children have strong memories to hold on to, and help them to remember their Christmases past with fondness.
What defines a tradition is unique to each family; for some, it may be the annual constructing of a gingerbread house, making cookies with mom, carolling around the neighborhood, a Christmas lights tour complete with hot chocolate, new pajamas under the tree or going to see The Nutcracker every year. The secret lies in creating traditions that shift the focus from the holiday sprint to what they value the most, time with friends and family.
Claire Klug, co-author of Claire's Christmas Journal, has some suggestions for family activities to try this holiday season, you never which ones will eventually become one of your favorite traditions. Just don’t try to fit these all in the same year!
1. Assign one family member as each year’s family historian. Have them record details about the family’s Christmas, when the tree went up, how Christmas Eve and Day were spent, favorite gifts and a family photo. The book will eventually be filled with a journal/diary style of notes on how your family spent each year. You can then look back and trace how some traditions started and keep track of each year’s special events. What a wonderful legacy to leave your children’s children.
2. Get together for a family sing-a-thong, with guitars, kazoos, accordions. Make sure to have lots of song sheets so everyone can sing all the same words. Tape it for next year, encourage family solos.
3. Go carolling around your neighborhood or plan a route and drive to all the special friends and family you know. Phone ahead to make sure they will be home. Just don’t tell them why and don’t stay too long.
4. Stage Christmas concerts for the children organized by older siblings and cousins. If the children are young, they may need some adults to help them organize. Let them try their own version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Operas, musicals or puppet shows are just some of the possibilities. Check out the library for great books for some ideas.
5. Tape a Christmas letter instead of a Christmas day phone call. It can be almost impossible to get through to out-of-town family so pre-tape your Christmas wishes. Send a card with instructions not to open until Christmas day.
6. Rent a favorite Christmas classic movie. White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and The Grinch who Stole Christmas are a few classics.
7. Take a tour of Calgary’s beautiful Christmas lights; don’t forget the hot chocolate.
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