Christmas traditions are important. If you didn't grow up with them, you might not realize it, but they are. Some of the best memories I have of my childhood are those that surround traditions. Every Christmas we decorated the house after Thanksgiving. We went to Christmas Eve service as a family and then went to my grandparents house and my grandfather read the Christmas story. We had an advent calendar and looked forward to it every night of Advent. We watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as a family and had popcorn. We had hot apple cider at my grandmother's house while we unwrapped presents. These are traditions that I look forward to. Some more than others but they were dependable and full of memories and love and, most importantly, family. So if you have not started traditions in your home, then you will want to get going.
Establishing some traditions and making those memories with their kids is an important part of the holidays. They don't have to be big and detailed traditions. They don't have to be expensive or time consuming, but they do need to be thoughtful and consistent. Establishing traditions is easy. You just find something that you enjoy to do as a family and do it. If you enjoy it, do it again next year. And, voila, a tradition is born! You may even have established a few holiday traditions in your home that you haven't even realized.
Do you get out a calendar on December 1st and count down the days until Christmas? Tradition.
Do you make cookies with your kids and decorate them and take them to grandma's house? Tradition.
Do you make a gift for a needy family and take it to them at Christmas? Tradition.
Do you make hot chocolate on Christmas eve and watch a movie or read a story? Tradition.
So think about it? Do you have a family tradition for Christmas? Is there something your kids ask about as they look forward to the holidays? I was actually surprised at some of the traditions we had established as they weren't necessarily intentional but have become one of the favorite parts of Christmas for my kids. So if you haven't gotten a few traditions going for your family, here are some ideas to get you started!
COUNT DOWN TO CHRISTMAS- I know I have mentioned it several times, but counting down the days until Christmas is a fun tradition for you and the kids. (And, I must admit, allows you to easily answer the incessant questions of 'how many days until Christmas, mom?") You can count down the days in many ways. You can make or buy a fancy calendar or simply mark off the days on a regular calendar. We have tried many different ways. We have had candy for each day (not my favorite because I don't like to encourage candy before bed but they sure loved it!) We have built a Lego Christmas village one piece each night until completed. We have done the paper construction paper chain with a Bible verse on each chain link that is removed each night. We have added an ornament to the tree each day and, this year, we are doing a Jesse Tree. No matter what you choose to do, have fun with it. Do the same each year or do something different each year. Either is establishing a tradition.
READ A BOOK -We read an Advent or Christmas story book each night before bed during December. I get at least one new book every year. And in our house Christmas Eve is a two story night with the Christmas Story from the Bible and The Night Before Christmas book (my 1955 Golden Book edition that was read to me). Making reading a tradition is fun and you can find some great seasonal books at the library if you need more ideas.
SERVE OTHERS- One of the best traditions you can do is serve others in some way. Since the Christmas seasons is about giving, why not give to others. You can do this in any way you choose but making it a tradition will pass on the 'reason for the season' - that it's better to give than receive. You can serve a meal at a shelter. Prepare and deliver a meal to a shut in. Visit a nursing home. Take cookies to a neighbor or sick friend. Send letters to your elderly family. Visit at Veteran's Home and take some Christmas cards. Or just do some random acts of kindness. Anything is helpful and appreciated and teaches your kids that Christmas is more than receiving presents from Santa. Be creative and have fun doing for others.
DECORATE TOGETHER My kids LOVE to decorate. Well, at least my oldest. She enjoys making decorations. So we make it a tradition to decorate together. She makes a new decoration or we make it together and then we spend some time putting it in a fun place and talking about what else we need. Homemade ornaments and construction paper snowmen are great. Keep them, make a scrapbook and then look back over the old decorations. You will be glad you did.
FIND ONE SPECIALTY DISH AND COOK IT TOGETHER A fun thing to do as a family is to find one specialty dish that you will bring or serve to Christmas day and bring to all those other holiday pitch ins and then perfect it, make it your own, and find a job for each person in your family when preparing it. Then the whole family can take part in making the dish together. If everyone takes part in the dish, it makes it that much more special and will become the go-to dish for you throughout the holidays.
There are so many more traditions that you can establish. Don't be afraid to start one but don't try to start 10 just this week. Just pick one or two things and see what your kids like. You may be surprised at what they will enjoy doing together! No matter what you have established as a tradition, know that your kids love it. They will remember it and they will likely try to pass on the joy they found in it on to their family someday. And every time they make those cookies or read that story, they will think of their childhood and the wonderful memories they have of those traditions.
Tawnee and her husband Chris are a Navy family land-locked in Indiana. They have 4 awesome, crazy, and creative kids. She blogs about life, parents, and the adventures of homeschooling her family at Adventures in Homeschooling. Visit her blog or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.