Christmas Traditions: Manufacturing Memories

What are your favorite memories of the holidays as a child?

More than likely those memories include family traditions from, the day you choose to decorate your tree, to the kinds of food you eat at the holidays.

Remember that you and your husband came from separate families with different customs and traditions.

When creating a legacy for your children, it is appropriate to use a couple traditions from each of your families and come up with some new ones for your own family. Don’t try to do them all or you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed rather than enriched. Here are some ideas.

  • Kick off the holiday season by attending an event every year. Some suggestions are: The Festival of Trees, attend a play such as A Christmas Carol, or a Christmas concert.
  • Together, bake a cake on Christmas Eve for Jesus to remind you whose birthday you are really celebrating. Light a candle and even sing “Happy Birthday” to Him.
  • Sound, smells and tastes can certainly bring back fond memories of past Christmases. The sound that is Christmas to me is Johnny Mathis’s Christmas album, which my mother played each year and I still adore now.
  • The food that means “holiday” to me is this frozen fruit salad recipe. We had it almost every holiday season. What are the sounds, smells and tastes that evoke your Christmas memories? Include those as part of your family’s traditions.
  • This tradition was submitted by Marilyn Brina:
    On Christmas morning, the youngest child goes in and opens his stocking. The the other children go in and open their stockings all while Dad is taking movies of us. Then Dad hands out each gift and we all watch as each gift is opened. Then after the gifts are opened, we eat scrambled eggs, sweet rolls and hot chocolate for breakfast.
  • There are several books of compiled Christmas short stories available in bookstores and libraries. Read to your family each night before bedtime.
  • On the first day of December read to your family “The Giving Tree”, by Shel Silverstein. As a family, make an advent calendar in the shape of a tree and determine 25 “gifts” you can share with neighbors, relative, teachers, and friends. The gifts could be things such as shoveling snow from a neighbor’s walk, visiting a widow, taking homemade bread to someone. Write each gift on a separate “leaf” and attach it to the tree. Number the leaves from 1 to 25. Each day during December, turn over the corresponding leaf on the calendar and give whatever “gift” is listed there.
  • Use your children’s artwork (which most families have in great abundance) to decorate wrapped packages. Your children will feel pride in the fact that their work is contributing to the holiday decorations.
  • Each Christmas of my childhood we would go “Santa Clausing”. My dad dressing up as Santa we children would dress as elves or reindeer. We would then deliver plates of Christmas goodies to friends and neighbors as we caroled. And of course, Santa had a candy cane in his bag for each child he encountered.
  • Give a new ornament to each child each year. Store each child’s collection in a special box that he can take with him when he leaves the nest. Not only will it give your child a few ornaments to decorate his tree, but it will be a reminder of past Christmases.
  • Take lots of pictures throughout the holidays. Each year create several new scrapbook pages that can be put into a special Christmas scrapbook album. It is wonderful to have out at holiday family gatherings for everyone to enjoy!
  • Several years we have been on the giving and the receiving end of “The 12 Days of Christmas”. Pick an individual or family that may be having a difficult holiday season, or that you just want to friendship. Each night anonymously leave a small gift with a note or poem on the receivers porch. (It can be exciting and tricky trying not to get caught 12 nights in a row!)
  • Another option is to compile the 12 gifts all at the same time. Be sure they are small and lay them on a 4 to 5 foot piece of colored plastic wrap. Enclose gifts in wrap and make a long rope separating each gift with ties of ribbon. Each night the receivers can cut off a new gift, and you only have one chance of being caught!

Use traditions to create lasting happy memories for your family that can be looked forward to every year.

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About the Author:
Teresa Hansen is the creator of Moms Making It! www.momsmakingit.com sharing creative ideas to save time, save money, and enrich your life! She is a wife, and mother of five children, and always looking for new ideas and products for moms “making it!” Get “Christmas Neighborhood Gift Ideas” ebook FREE by signing up for the newsletter at her site.

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