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10 traditions designed to connect your family this christmas

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the mommyhood memos: 10 traditions designed to connect your family this christmas

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 traditions designed to connect your family this christmas

By Lindsey Whitney of Growing Kids Ministry

The holidays are always crazy busy.  You don’t need me to tell you that.  However, in the midst of all the shopping, driving, celebrating, and running around, we often neglect to connect with our families in a meaningful way.  Here are ten ideas to help you slow down, even for a few moments, and cherish those things that mean the most to you.
1.   Hot Chocolate in Front of the Fire
Nothing causes you to slow down and reflect like a hot beverage in your hand. This winter, grab some of those specialty hot chocolates and make each member of your family a special cup of chocolaty goodness.   Gather together in front of the fire and just sip together.  You can chat if the mood strikes, but don’t feel like you have to. Comment on how tasty your drink is, and make sure you tell your family how much you love them.  Then just stare at the flames together.  No fireplace?  You can have your kids draw an imaginary one on poster board, or you can get one of those crazy DVD’s that put a crackling fireplace on your TV! 

2.   Storytime
Start the bedtime routine a half hour earlier and spend that extra time reading lots of Christmas books.  Little Star is a good one that’s out this year.  One family I know gets a different version of The Night Before Christmas  every year as part of their family tradition.

3.   Get Wrapping
Try to wrap presents ahead of time.  I know, you’re busy and this is one task that tends to settle to the bottom of the to-do list.  But seriously, it looks so nice to have those lovely gifts under the tree for a few weeks.  Plus, you don’t have to spend the entire month of December dreading the wrapping process.  Hire some youth group kids or nieces and nephews to do if you want.  I’m sure they would be happy for the extra Christmas cash.

4.   Appreciate What You Have
Spend a night together watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Do movies get any better than this one?)  Veggie Tales just came out with their own version, called “It’s a Meaningful Life” that you might opt for if you’ve got a house full of little ones.  After you watch, have everyone share something that they appreciate about their life and family. 

5.   Read the Christmas Story Before Christmas
Christmas is a great time to read about the birth of Christ, but Christmas morning might not be ideal.  Usually kids are anxious to dive into their presents, mom is busy cooking up a grand breakfast and dad is.. well, who knows?  Maybe getting the video camera ready or installing batteries.  At any rate, if you wait till the midst of all this to read through the Bible, it might get rushed or even pushed aside.  Take time Christmas Eve or earlier in the week to read through the passage and talk about it with your family.  

6.   Kid Friendly Nativity
Nativities are great, but don’t cause yourself undue stress by putting out Great Aunt Wanda’s heirloom set and then yelling at the kids whenever they come within three feet of it.  Instead, go for a kid-friendly version this year and let your kids actually touch it.   Here’s some great ones to take a look at: Little People NativityLearning Journey Nativity,  or Kurt Adler Nativity.

7.   Cookies! 
This is one of our family traditions.  Usually we do them all on one day (what a long day that is!), but you may want to break it up and do a different type of cookie every week.  Each year, when December comes, your family will know that Friday is cookie day!  Take those extra cookies to the neighbors to spread some holiday love.

8.   A Grand Entrance
I recently read this idea in Thriving Family magazine.  One family wanted to capture the “coming down the stairs on Christmas morning” moment, so they had their kids stay in their rooms until they heard Christmas music loudly playing in the house.  Every year, the parents picked a different tune and as the kids excitedly bounded out of their rooms, they were all able to share the first moments of Christmas together.  

9.   Remember Others
Samaritan’s Purse puts out a gift catalog every Christmas filled with gifts that you can give to others in needs.  For $4, you can give milk to a child for a week. For $20 you can give a family chickens to raise for a living.  There is a wide range of prices and gifts, and it’s a great way for kids to remember the less fortunate during the holidays. 

10.  Puzzle Time
Puzzles are another one of those activities that force you to sit down and breathe for a moment.  Find some Christmas or winter-themed puzzles and work together on them as a family.  You can do it all in one night, or spend a few weeks on an especially hard one.  Afterwards, you can glue it together and display it as a Christmas memory. 
Wondering how you’re going to remember to fit these things in?  Print off a calendar for December, and let your kids pick the days to do each of the above activities.  Post it on the fridge or some other prominent place so both you and your kids will be reminded to take time for family this Christmas.

Bio: Lindsey Whitney is a new mom of one adorable little girl.  She runs a Family Home Day Care and is the Children's Ministry director at her church.  Her blog is Growing Kids Ministry.

Dear friends, I LOVE these ideas and I'm a big believer in creating family traditions! We have a few Christmas traditions of our own, but now that we're parents we are open to adopting a few more that will be extra special for the kids. I love the child-friendly nativity idea as well as the cookie day! (And the grand entrance when the kids are older.) How do you and your family connect during the Christmas season? Will you try anything new this year?

enjoying my family this christmas,

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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At December 14, 2010 at 5:28 AM , Blogger Ruth said...

Love this post. These are all such great suggestions.

At December 14, 2010 at 7:47 AM , Anonymous Joey said...

Love the suggestions, too. Especially the 2nd one -- our kids love it when we pull out the box of Christmas books from the attic; they know they'll only have 4-5 weeks to enjoy them before we pack them away again.

With regards to #5, we actually do read the Christmas story on the morning of Christmas; it's actually probably our oldest tradition that we started when we had kids. Here's our list:

At December 14, 2010 at 12:37 PM , Blogger Kerry McCullough said...

I'm excited to bring Niall to the children's mass, but I don't think he will know what is going on or even be able to participate too much. But still! Last Christmas, he was only a month old, so this year is a big one. Can't wait :)

At December 15, 2010 at 4:46 PM , Blogger adriel, from the mommyhood memos said...

Lindsey, thanks again for writing this post! It is just full of wonderful ideas and I love it! Thank you wonderful mama.


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