Family traditions are a cornerstone of the holidays — from who makes the Sweet Potato Pie for this year’s family dinner – to who gets to make the cornbread dressing! Here are a few ideas to introduce and build on your family traditions. Talk them over with your family and relatives. Share your ideas so we can share with others on our FaceBook and Twitter pages. Let’s all work to help one another keep our families strong — and give honor to all, past and present!
Make decorating your tree a family affair. Resist the temptation to have a “designer” Christmas tree. Make the tree a centerpiece that engages all — young and old. Let everyone add their own touch and contribution!
Honor relatives who have passed and “gone on” to your holiday celebration. Take a vintage photo, make a photo copy to size, put it in an inexpensive frame, add an ornament hanger and create an Christmas tree ornament in their memory! Or, place the framed pictures on your dining table, coffee table or mantle next to candles. Show the ornament and pictures to young ones and take the opportunity to share stories about their ancestors.
Gifts That Give Back
Include ways for your family to share and express the true meaning of Christmas. Commit to one day or night for a family give-back. This could mean taking an hour or so to read to seniors in a nursing home … children in a hospital … babysitting for a single mother … or conducting your own family food drive to donate to local food cupboards for the poor and homeless. You can even ask your church for ideas. The needs are all around you. And be sure to include the children in your give back project. That way, they will grow up knowing that Christmas is not just a time to get — it’s also a time to give.
Christmas Chili Night
Once your tree is up and your house is decorated – make your home inviting for casual visits. That takes a lot of pressure off. And – you get time to spend with family and friends before the “big day” when it’s not always easy to have one-on-one time for chats, remembrances and heartfelt hugs and conversation. You never know who might need just that kind of time with you — especially during this time of year.
Room At the Table
Always make room for those who for whatever reason have no one or no place to go on Christmas day. This can be your college child’s roommate from another country to an elderly neighbor or young neighbor who can’t afford to get to their family for the holidays. Again, churches are a great source for ideas on how to show love and fellowship by leaving room at your table.
Put a Limit On It
Put a limit on the amount of money spent on gifts – and put a limit on the number of gifts. You can even have family members draw names on your Christmas Chili Tree Decorating night. This way, those who don’t have money for gifts for everyone won’t feel left out or embarrased. You can even add fun by having a “Dollar Store” theme, and no one can bring more than 2-3 gifts. If anyone wants to do more – they can do so, privately. The goal is to “level” things on Christmas Day so no one feels lesser-than or left out.
Incorporate Kwanzaa into your family traditions to base your celebrations on life-affirming principles.