When I was growing up, my family had some endearing traditions that meant much to me. We always went to my grandfather’s farm in the country and cut down our special tree to take home and decorate with many handmade ornaments we had made and saved through the years. Another tradition was hanging our stockings near the fireplace. They were long and narrow but could hold many little surprises.
We always helped my dad make ambrosia for the Christmas dinner. We went to the basement to Daddy’s tool room and watched him put a nail in the coconut. We put a bowl under it and drained out the coconut milk. Next he burst open the coconut with a hammer, and he peeled it with a sharp knife –quite a tedious process. Then we helped grind the coconut pieces in his meat grinder. Later we added fresh oranges and pineapple cut in chunks. In the end we had a delectable bowl of ambrosia that was “fit for royalty,” my grandpa always said.
We also baked cookies and decorated them and made divinity candy, my dad’s favorite. My sister and I boxed up much of the candy and cookies and delivered to them as surprises to friends and neighbors.
What are the traditions you hold dear in your family? Think about what you do as a ritual every holiday season. Traditions offer a great time to promote family closeness and unity. Here are some suggestions for traditions you might start this year. (If you already do some of these, keep up the good work!)
1. Have a caring Christmas
Give to those less fortunate than you. Search closets, pantry, garage and attic for coats, clothing, toys and canned foods to give to the homeless and needy. (Ex. Toys for Tots and Salvation Army)
2. Wrap it up
Set up a wrapping center at your home and help your family make gift-wrapping paper and gift tag making. Have gift bags, boxes, wrapping paper and ribbon, scotch tape, scissors and pens available. Now go to work and be creative.
3. Goold old days around
During your family Christmas gatherings videotape your oldest family members by asking them to relate a Christmas memory of their childhood. After several years, you’ll have quite a bit of family history compiled.
4. Gingerbread house art activity
Build and decorate a gingerbread house together using icing and candy pieces.(Candies flat on one side work the best to stick to the sides of the house). Kits are available at craft stores, Hobby Lobby and Walmart.
5. Holiday bake-in
Bake and decorate cookies for friends and neighbors. Go around your neighborhood delivering them in colorful bags or tins. Bake a couple of dozen extra for your family to enjoy. Keep plenty of hot chocolate mix and marshmallows on hand to go with your cookies.
6. Use the Internet
Look up Christmas traditions on the internet and find the stories behind: Christmas trees coming to us from Germany, the use of the colors red and green originating among the Britons and Romans, “kissing under the mistletoe” tradition from England and Scandanavia, the custom of using a live Nativity scene from Italy, and hanging stockings on the fireplace mantle originating in Turkey.
7. Share reading the Chrismas story
Read Luke 2:1-18, read a few verses, then pass the Bible on to the next child. Do this as a family and always remember, “The Reason for the Season is Jesus.”
Have fun sharing your family traditions and, perhaps, starting a new one or two this year!
Alice G. Duckett has a new CD out just in time for Christmas. It is a recording of original stories- fun for all ages. Find her on Facebook to see CD album photos. Call 256-237-7123 for more info. Alice looks forward to spending Christmas with her four grandchildren and sharing some special traditions with them. Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.