Christmas traditions provide us with a sense of belonging to our own particular family and link us to our family’s history. Traditional celebrations have been around for centuries and allow us to express ourselves in our own special way.
Traditions can also be shared amongst friends or community or passed down from great-grandparents or grandparents, to parents and children.
These days life can be unpredictable and sometimes scary for children who need to experience family events that are predictable, comforting and offer security.
Some of my own Christmas family traditions include making delicious shortbread cookies, Chinese chew bars and lemon bars. Since my daughter was a baby, each Christmas Eve, I give her a new pair of pyjamas. At 26, she still looks forward to receiving them. For many years, we celebrated Boxing Day with a family sleigh ride. We sang well-known and beloved Christmas carols as we winded our way through the snowy forest. Even though my daughter is grown, I still fill her Christmas stocking with fun goodies and she looks forward to opening it. We enjoy watching our furry pets opening their own special gifts. After all, they are certainly an important part of the family.
It’s fun to decorate the tree with handcrafted, slightly tattered decorations handed down from great-grandparents or grandparents. There is a special feeling to remove each tiny decoration from its box and hang it in just the right place on the tree. One of our favourites is a walnut shell that looks like a mouse tucked under a mini pink blanket. Sand dollars collected from vacation, caterpillars made from clothes pegs, artistic creations from nursery school, all make the tree special. Tinsel and colourful lights add the finishing touch.
My Dad was a great fan of The Paul Reid show, which aired on CJAD for many years. Paul Reid told various stories of his poverty-stricken family and how even though poor, his father carved wooden trains and his mother knit dolls and clothing as gifts. Because of these gifts, Paul Reid never even realized his family was poor.
Christmas is the time to let family members know how much you care about them. Have fun snuggling on the couch to watch a well-loved holiday movie with a blazing fire in the fireplace, share a hot cocoa or a bowl of warm popcorn drizzled with butter.
Build a snowman together, have a snowball fight, watch The Grinch who Stole Christmas, spend a family ski day together, or go skating or bowling. These will be the memories that your children will remember for the rest of their lives.
Hide away your cell phone, i-pad, close the computer screen and opt instead to have fun family time. Come up with your own new tradition that your children will want to share with their own family down the road.
Make it count this Christmas. Spread the love, be patient and extend kindness to your family, friends and neighbours.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas filled with old traditions and sprinkled with new ones.