The arrival of December too often corresponds with the arrival of ulcers. The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time, but too often we get caught up in expectations and forget to celebrate. Here are some suggestions for making the Holiday Season more meaningful for your family.
1. Focus on your religious tradition
Don’t forget the whole point of the celebration! When we keep the commercial aspect of the holiday in check, we leave room for the spirit of the events that we hold dear. Keep church meetings, service projects, scripture readings, and other religious traditions at the center of your celebration.
2. Explore another religious traditions
The month of December is a special month for many world cultures. If you are Christian, consider learning more about Hanukkah and the miracle of the oil. There are delicious Jewish food that are prepared this time of year, and children love playing games with the dreidel. Consider talking about the principles of Kwanzaa with your family: Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Even though religious and cultural traditions have much to separate them, celebrating other holidays helps children develop an open mind towards others, and can give insights into their own beliefs.
3. Party like your Ancestors
One of our favorite traditions is choosing a country our ancestors come from, and learning what a traditional Christmas looked like in those countries. We’ve made figgy puddy when we focused on England, enjoyed our shortbread and learned the Highland Fling as we got to know our Scottish ancestors, and enjoyed days of great Swiss chocolate. An easy internet search or a trip to the library will help you gather ideas for games, foods, and activities that can help you connect with your family’s past. If you don’t know where you come from, this is a great chance to ask older relatives, look on familysearch.org, or sign-up for ancestry.com.
4. Go for a Theme
Maybe there is a theme that can unify your efforts this Christmas. One example of this would be to have a “Little House on the Prairie” Christmas. The books are filled with great descriptions of Laura’s holiday celebrations, and there are even Little House recipe books available. Even the stockings could contain what the books describe. You could also focus on another time period and have a traditional Colonial Christmas, or create the holiday meal of Lewis and Clark.
5. Remember: You don’t have to be like your neighbor
Much of the stress that comes from the Holidays is from looking around and buying into the media’s opinion of what our celebration needs to look like, feel like, and cost. We don’t all have to do things the same way! We’re not in a contest with our friends and family to see who can have the cutest hand-made stockings, or the biggest presents under the tree. Be creative, be content, and do things your own way.
6. Enjoy the Journey
Most memories are made by our attitudes, not by the event. Choosing a Christmas tree or going on a sleigh ride can be a terrible experience for kids if parents have short tempers. But even cleaning the house or getting lost on a trip can be wonderful memories if parents meet the challenge with a sense of humor. Focus on your family, and let yourself have a meaningful, magical Holiday Season.