No matter what winter holiday a family celebrates there’s always one thing in common: parents want it to be a special and magical time for their family, especially for their children. With all the focus on receiving gifts and rushing about, making time for family and remembering what really matters is good for children and parents, too. Times like this are perfect opportunities to create memories that will stay with your child forever. Even simple traditions like decorating a tree will last forever in your child’s heart.
I remember one if my favorite parts of Christmas was digging into those ornaments and decorations that only came out once a year. On a more unique note, every Saturday night in December we would leave a shoe outside our bedroom doors and in the morning there would be a small gift inside. It was usually a pre-Christmas kind of thing like an ornament, a nutcracker or a winter-themed book. This tradition came about because I heard a story about gifts in shoes and my Mom thought it was cute. It grew to become something that we looked forward to every year. This year, try to find a unique holiday tradition that your kids will remember and pass on to their families some day.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Eve Bunting wrote a beautiful book called “Night Tree” about a family who journeys into the forest each year to decorate a tree. They decorate it with food for the animals of the forest, have a picnic and sing carols. When they return home they think about how happy the animals must be to have such a treat. Children will love doing this every year after reading this magical book.
An important way to help kids remember giving and not just getting is to donate or help those less fortunate. There are so many great ways to do this with your children. One good way is donating toys. If your kids are on board with this idea they can choose some of their gently used toys to give to others. Giving new or thrifted toys will work just as well. Also, helping an organization like a local soup kitchen or giving homemade bagged lunches to the homeless is a way to spend time with your kids and help those in need at the same time.
Many parents give yearly ornaments as presents for their children to collect and keep as they grow up. I love the idea of making ornaments every year and dating them. This way you get the memory of making ornaments each year and a collection of ornaments that grows with your child. These cinnamon dough ornaments (my craft blog) would be the perfect start for this tradition.
Winter Solstice celebrates the shortest day of the year. This means that days start getting longer and lighter which has had a huge significance throughout history. No matter what your beliefs, sunshine and the coming of warmer days and new life are always something to be happy about. Talk with your kids about why our ancestors valued the coming of longer days so much. Celebrate the coming of the sun by lighting candles or fires on the night of solstice.
Any tradition you start with your family will create memories to last a lifetime. Ask your kids what they want to do – you may be surprised with their ideas and enthusiasm.