Traditions & Rituals for the Holidays

With the holiday season in the air  I thought I would do a special post to address the holidays. This is a time of hurry, mixed feelings of commercial vs meaning, creating memories and making it a special time of year for everyone.

Taking the time to create meaningful traditions at this special time of year will help ensure happiness for all!

Cheers to the holidays…

Holidays…means ”Holy Days”

Thanksgiving is filled with football games, turkey dinners and pumpkin pie, but you could also take pictures of all the guests and have them write down ‘five things they are grateful for’ and share them with the family around the dinner table—OR have a fabric tablecloth & have everyone write what they are thankful for & keep it for the next Thanksgiving feast. Another fun idea—make a hostess gift for the person who hosted the dinner & have a special apron that everyone signs in thanks. You could also pack a special dinner for a local fire/police department (or someone who doesn’t have family nearby) & have the family deliver it

Gratitude book of love to each child…go to Walmart, Snapfish…and create a 20 page picture book…include pictures from the year and some of your favorite artwork from the year…write a special note & give for Thanksgiving.

I AM GRATEFUL for you…love you…xoxo You can also give for birthday or Christmas or any holiday.

 Another idea I began last year, our ‘giving tree.’ My husband travels a lot during the month of November & December, so we put our Christmas tree up around the week of Thanksgiving. Since the tree is up I started to have every guest (for thanksgiving or any visit) write down something they are grateful for on a paper link. I then link them all together to create a chain that I hang on the Christmas tree.

Christmas

Birthday Cake Story: every christmas eve we go to grandmas house and she reads this story with a basket full of goat cheese, a candle and a birthday cake. It is a favorite tradition that we have done since I was young.

Christmas eve pajamas: have special pajamas that can be opened christmas eve

So many things to do…Read or watch Luke 2, make gifts to give to neighbors and friends, go to the salem pond lights and enjoy the carriage ride while singing Christmas tunes, participate in some sort of giving tree, make a turkey dinner for someone in need, download and share some of your favorite holiday tunes, putting out birdseed and bread crumbs & reading the book “Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect” is a nice touch… Make a list of all the things you would like to include this holiday season. Is it making gingerbread houses, visiting a local old folks home to sing carols, visiting temple square, going to see a production of the Nutcracker, seeing holiday lights, drinking eggnogg by candlelight after a winter walk in the snow, making homemade gifts for family and friends, celebrating the advent, lighting luminaries and making wishes, sharing the story of the nativity on the eve of Christmas, watching the nativity, visiting a live nativity, visiting family Christmas day, making snow angels, making ornaments and garland for the tree, having a special tree for Jesus with adornments made with love, ice-skating at the park with homemade hot cocoa, playing games on Christmas day, a special story read the night before Christmas,talking about the history of Christmas and learning about the real St. Nicholas, cutting down your own tree, buying a a live tree and then planting it after the holidays, planting herbs to share as gifts, going to church services, lighting a special candle every day for the month of December, having the 12 days of Christmas, or giving the 12 days of Christmas, making homemade soup and bread bowls, serving dinner at a local shelter, go on a winter sleigh ride, make christmas birdseed balls for our feathered friends, etc. Choose activities that will be memorable for everyone. Have a good balance of personal family time with holiday activities.

12 days of Christmas books, stories or Movies: Pick your 12 favorite holiday books and put the titles on pieces of paper & place in a jar—draw one each evening. (Polar Express, Twas the Night before Christmas, God gave us Christmas, Why Christmas Trees aren’t Perfect, The Grinch who stole Christmas, Who is coming to our house?…create your own or check out Amazon.com and buy your first book and each year add to the collection)

Christmas guest: a little magic comes to visit to remind little children that they need to be on their best behavior—have a special elf, christmas bear…come with a special note, holiday book, holiday yummy… and have the little visitor watch over the family. If someone is not listening…the visitor leaves to report to the north pole. This little guest does help keep the peace & is something every child looks forward to.

Christmas games: Christmas morning have santa leave a special game created just for this special morning…dice game with stickers (make a giant dice out of cardboard or use a larger toy dice & have stickers on every side–the stickers match the presents), price is right, scavenger hunt, Christmas to do drawing (have someone choose a special thing to do before opening a present–yell ‘Merry Christmas’ out the front door, sing a christmas tune, say something you are grateful for, etc), Christmas around the world—(Its a small world song, bought a little wood globe with people from all over & shared a little trivia & info. before opening a present). Have a string run throughout the house that everyone has to follow to find the family gift.

Break up your day: Have a special holiday breakfast, open a few presents, then break at a specific time to make holiday treats to share with lonely neighbors or someone who needs some holiday cheer, then come back and open another present, have a nice lunch together…spread the fun and festivities throughout your day.

From Family Fun:

Inspired by Eve Bunting’s book Night Tree, the Watermans get together each year with friends and family and trek into the woods to decorate a tree for the animals. The evening begins at home, with the preparation of appropriate goodies: pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, popcorn and cranberry garlands, orange and apple slices suspended from pipe cleaners. Once the feast is complete, the assembled throng bundles up and heads out into the night. Tree-decking is followed by sharing hot chocolate, holiday cookies and Christmas carols.

Recycle Toy Shop: have your kids pick a day to go through their old toys and fix them up to give away. There are many charities that need items, so clean-up old trucks, brush the dolls hair and spread some cheer.

Light a candle & share the joy to those not near: For family that is not close to home, send invites and have a special day and time where everyone across the country lights a candle, shares a poem, hot cocoa, special chrisstmas tunes and sends out special holiday wishes and cheer.

Surprise someone local: Firefighters, police officers and many other public servants give up their holidays to make sure that ours are safe and happy. Do something nice for someone local–take cookies, dinner…

Putting Christ back in to Christmas

Having a hard time balancing Santa Claus and Jesus?? Turn the holiday season into a season of giving.

Explain the reason for the Season (Jesus), but also include the story of Saint Nicholas and his giving heart.

Talk to your family about having a balance of holiday gifts (to represent the gifts Jesus was given)

and being ‘present’ with the giving heart and true meaning of the season.

Ask What Would Jesus like us to do to celebrate his birth?

Would he like us to have a ‘gimme.gimme. I want attitude’ or would he want us to be more like

Saint Nicholas and create an intentional giving holiday full of family, love, giving and gratitude.

Have a special tree for Jesus. Adorned with ornaments that symbolize Him and his birth.

Have a special manger that you fill with kind and loving deeds

Have a little stocking for the baby Jesus and each year write something you were grateful for or

something you would like to work on to be more Christ like for the coming year.

Celebrate daily with a advent (which means ‘coming’) calendar that is filled with a scripture

or a kind deed for the day, a spiritual activity or service idea for the family.

Candles (originally go with the advent wreath) to be lit every Sunday of the month of December

4 purple candles that symbolize HOPE we have in Christ LOVE God showed in sending His son PEACE that comes through knowing Jesus as our Savior JOY (pink candle) reminds us of the Joy of Jesus’ coming

Then one last white candle that is to be lit Christmas Eve and represents Jesus and His purity

You light a candle every Sunday.

All candles lit=the fulfillment of Jesus’ coming to be the light of the world.

You could light special luminaries as a family and create a special tradition that revolves

around His Light, the Light of the world, ways to be a light within your own life, etc.

30 Day Challenge (between Thanksgiving and Christmas)

Do 1 thing that sets your day with Spirit

(music, prayer, daily pages, quiet time, sweets for your fam,etc)

Give Sweets to your Family

(morning hot cocoa, dryer wamed blankets or coats, sweet notes of love)

Daily or Weekly act of love and kindness

(pass along something inspirational, story, music, affirmation)

Express your Love

(notes, hugs, Quality time, simple I love you, date night with each child, etc)

Notice the Ordinary Miracles within your life

(the warmth of a fire, the winter walks, making snow angels, the touch of those you love, candle glow, cozy sweaters, warm kisses, falling snow, your breath on a cold morning, making breakfast together…etc)

Create ‘Christ’mas meaning within your day

(embrace beautiful stories/songs of the Beloved, bring Christ into your Christmas season)

Share meaningful gifts during this beautiful time of giving

(give gifts that will be remembered and cherished: special photo/story, cd of music, special ornaments they can hang every year, personalized notecards, no matter what a personal card that says something you love and cherish about them)

I would LOVE  everyone to add additional traditions that you do for the holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays! 
Heather
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