For most of us, our favourite memories of Christmas are tied to a special tradition that was practiced by our family each Christmas. While it is fun to do new and different things each Christmas, it is also fun to have something familiar to look forward to throughout the year. Today I am sharing with you ten of my favourite family traditions.
- Light an Advent Wreath. If you attend a church that does not participate in this seasonal type of worship, this is a great idea to do with your own family at home. There are many resources online that can assist with the preparation. I found http://www.kencollins.com/answers/question-10.htm to be helpful. For four Sundays before Christmas a different candle around the wreath is lit to represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. The candle in the middle of the wreath is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in celebration of Christ’s birth.
- Visit a Nursing Home. Many seniors have no family members in their local vicinity. Christmas can be a difficult time for these people. Many seniors love seeing and talking to children. Maybe plan on the children singing or helping with some sort of Christmas program. The best thing to do is contact your local nursing home and speak to the Program Director. She/he will be able to direct you appropriately.
- Make an Activity Calendar. This is something my family always did when I was a child. On December 1, we gathered a large poster board, markers, tape, old magazines/catalogues, and scissors. First, Mom would mark out the grid of the calendar for December and add the dates. Then we would assign an activity for each day of the month. This might include putting up the Christmas tree, baking sugar cookies, or wrapping gifts. For each activity we either found a photo in an old magazine/catalogue or drew a picture that represented that activity and taped it on the day assigned to it on calendar. For instance, if we went Christmas dinner grocery shopping on Dec 21, we taped on a picture of a shopping cart on the square of Dec 21. On a day that didn’t have a specific activity, we took turns drawing a picture of something that represented Christmas.This calendar also acted as a countdown to Christmas since we each took turns crossing off the days as they were completed.
- Buy a New Ornament Every Christmas. Throughout the year, be thinking about what ornament you want to purchase. It could be a souvenir that represents a family vacation or a set of house keeps from the house you recently sold. It’s exciting to think about something that represents the previous year and incorporate that into your Christmas tree décor.
- Dress up for Christmas Dinner. In the past, it wasn’t considered Christmas if the family members did not put on their best formal wear. This was done to set apart the holiday as a special day. Of course, this can be difficult to do with little children but might be something to consider as the children get older. If you are having a formal Christmas dinner with your best dish set and glassware, why not dress for the occasion.
- Have Outside Fun on Christmas Afternoon. Some of my fondest memories as a child are spending the afternoon sledding or skating with the whole family. The whole family could include grandparents, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and cousins. You might even invite the neighbours or close friends. If it is a mild winter or you live somewhere warm, then go for a walk or play some sort of outside game. Remember to have the hot chocolate set out and ready to be made when everyone returns inside.
- Invite Someone (Other than Family) for Dinner. This is another tradition my family always had when growing up. We had an elderly friend who had nowhere to go for Christmas, so he always came to our house. He came for Christmas dinner for many years. When he got sick and unable to attend, we felt a great sadness. We might not have been related to him, but he definitely felt like a part of our family. Just remember that most people don’t want to be pitied, so you might allow the person to participate in the meal by bringing some sort of food dish or gifts. I still have a blue teddy bear that was given to me by our family friend one Christmas.
- Read a Christmas Book. For small children, you might decide to read a different picture book each night in December leading up to Christmas. For older children, it can be fun to read one chapter each night of a chapter book. The book does not have to be completely about Christmas. When I was a child, we often chose books such as Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
- Have the Children Plan Christmas Eve. Let the kids plan a skit, a song, a craft, or a special activity for Christmas Eve evening. This is better for older children, but you would be amazed how creative children can be when asked to plan something. While Christmas movies can be fun, encourage them to do something that is a little more creative for this special evening. Remember to have some special treats to wrap of the festivities.
- Watch It’s a Wonderful Life. My sister and I have a long running tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas. This is a great tradition to start with teenagers and/or adults. The message of this timeless classic never grows old. Some people find the movie depressing, but I find it very encouraging. It reminds us what the important things in life truly are – living honestly, giving to others, and celebrating family and friends.
I hope you found these 10 traditions inspiring, and that you will choose to create positive, uplifting memories for your family this Christmas and in the years to come. Be sure to share your favourite family traditions in the comments below.