My favorite holiday traditions will be always the ones that involve my family. As time goes by and some members of the family leave us, the traditions evolve. But still, they evoke the memories of a childhood spent next to my grandmother watching and learning as she cooked meals and crocheted gifts that had love in every stitch.
Christmas becomes more commercial with each passing year and I find that I am more inclined to give a handmade gift. At our house we schedule one Saturday or Sunday afternoon specifically for crafting and baking. We make cookies, candy and sometimes “juice jelly .” (This is jelly made from frozen juice concentrate.) My children love to decorate the sugar cookies and produce lovely handmade gift tags. The real reward comes when we deliver our goodies to friends and neighbors. Seeing their smiles makes the work worthwhile.
I also make charitable giving a tradition. Every year since my children were born, we have adopted an “angel” from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. We go together and choose an angel that is the same age and gender as each child. Then we shop together and the kids can pick out things they think that their angel would like. As we do this I discuss with them that while we may not have everything we want, we are still far more blessed than others.
Tree decorating is another tradition at our house that involves the whole family. While the kids are in school, I get the tree all set up, make sure the lights are working and put on any garland or ribbon. Later that evening we snack on cookies and hot chocolate while we decorate the tree together. Everyone hangs their personal ornaments on the tree and we talk about the ornaments that were handed down from mom and dad’s childhood.
I also love the tradition of good holiday cooking that my family has always enjoyed. There is not just the baking my children and I do, but also time spent with Poppy making his special peanut brittle and helping Gramma make her pies. Once we have landed at a relative’s house I find that I especially relish the opportunity to be in the kitchen with the other women in my family. It is so reminiscent of the cooking that went on in my Grandma’s kitchen. I can still hear her scolding my aunt and mother to add more seasoning or baste the turkey as the smell of Dove soap lingered wherever she stood.
The one tradition that I always want to continue is attending the candlelight service at our church on Christmas Eve. The beauty of the sanctuary lit only by candlelight and the joy of the service celebrating the birth of Jesus is amazing.
I am so glad that we haves these traditions in our family to help show my children how to pass love along not just throughout the holiday season, but all year long.