Depending on the kind of person you are, the holiday season either makes you say, "ho ho ho," or "bah humbug." But even the cheeriest elf can lean towards grinchiness when the focus goes off family and togetherness and on to department store lines and super sales. Here, six ideas for holiday traditions to celebrate with your family.
Count Down the Days
Celebrate the holiday wind-up with a countdown tradition. Find the style that best suits your family. Read a spiritual story every evening after dinner, or make or buy a nativity calendar. Each night of the month, talk over dinner about the many gifts your family already has.
An Unusual Christmas Letter
Instead of writing a braggy letter to others about Sally's softball homerun and winning science project, write a letter to each other filled with details from the year. Compose the letter together and have everyone contribute an observation--from Mom's cauliflower casserole last spring that resulted in an emergency call for pizza or your kids triumphs in words said, books read, and shoes tied. Each year, read through the letters and delight in the unique fun that is your family.
Read more: Tips for creating meaningful holiday traditions
Add a touch of the natural world to your home in the season of hibernation. Go to the garden store and load up on paperwhite bulbs. Make a family activity out of planting them in vases and teacups around the house, or give them as gifts to teachers. Even the blackest thumb will soon be surrounded by green shoots and fragrant white blooms, a meaningful symbol of birth.
A Meaningful Tree
When the ornaments on the tree have meaning, decorating the tree becomes a walk down memory lane. There's your cranky teenager's craft from first grade and the ornament you and your sweetie picked up on your cross-country roadtrip before there was a single tyke in the house. Start collecting ornaments now and kick off the year by having the family craft ornaments together.
Read more: What are your favorite holiday traditions and memories?
Take the focus off your nuclear family and bring your attention to others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen every year, drop in to a nursing home to hear stories of holiday traditions past, or donate coats and presents. Get the whole family involved in these tasks; they might grumble about it initially, but they'll feel great about it afterward and it teaches an important lesson about the interconnectedness of us all the responsibility we have toward each other.
Just Be Together
Any activity during the holidays can become a tradition just by bringing some intention to it, and you know better than anyone what activities best suit your family. Outgoing families will love carols and charades; quieter types might like reading holiday stories aloud with hot chocolate, baking Mom's famous snickerdoodles, or gathering in the living room for the annual viewing of White Christmas. It doesn't matter what gets your family to come together--the important part is that you do.
What meaningful--or just plain silly--traditions does your family repeat year after year?
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