It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are here, and it’s time to gather close with those you love and celebrate your favorite traditions.
Every clan is unique, but many of us share similar celebrations. Here are eight holiday traditions I love and look forward to year after year.
1. Matching Pajamas
Sleep hygiene experts might tell you to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to regulate your circadian rhythms. However, this rule doesn’t apply on the holidays. Good luck enforcing it when your littles are dying to dig into what’s under the tree. Instead, why not add to your celebration by opening one gift apiece the night before — the one containing new matching pajamas?
This trend soared in popularity in recent years, thanks to the advent of social media feeds. Those who log in on a holiday morning may see photo after photo of families in matching pajamas. Why not get in on the fun and enjoy waking up ready to capture the magic of opening gifts with your smartphone?
2. Baking Christmas Cookies
I have fond memories of baking holiday cookies with my mom. My dad typically went off to hunting camp during the week we got busy in the kitchen. My siblings and I became regular Michelangelos with sprinkles and decorating tools, the raw dough our personal Sistine Chapels.
You can get in on the fun no matter what dietary restrictions you have. If insulin resistance has you turning down anything laden with white flour and sugar these days, why not substitute almond flour and use powdered monk fruit to avoid spiking your glycemic index? With a little inventiveness in the kitchen, you can still enjoy sweet treats without them damaging your health.
3. Advent Calendars
Advent calendars play a special role in the celebration for those who worship. However, you can enjoy the countdown to the holidays even if you practice a more secular celebration.
One idea is to have an imaginary “elf” hide small presents — a piece of candy or pack of gum — for your kids each weekend leading up to the big day. You enjoy the fun of playing hide and seek and enjoy the pleasure of gift-giving a little early.
4. Picking Out the Christmas Tree
Many families drag out the artificial tree, and there’s much to be said for such modern conveniences. After all, you don’t have to worry about recreating the famous squirrel scene from “Christmas Vacation” in your living room if your Douglas fir comes complete with a critter. You also don’t clog up your vacuum cleaner with pine needles.
However, there’s something romantic about packing the kids up and heading to the local farm to find a fresh tree. You can even do your part to reforest through your choices. Opt for a potted tree that you can later plant in your backyard or donate to a local park, bringing you years of joy. Your annual holiday expenditure helps you reduce your carbon footprint.
Do you wait until after Thanksgiving to begin your holiday decorating, or is it game on the minute the Great Pumpkin goes back to sleep after Halloween? It doesn’t matter when you hang up the lights as long as you get everyone in on the fun.
Even the youngest family members can learn how to make popcorn garlands to adorn your holiday tree. Use them to decorate your front yard, and you’ll provide a useful holiday snack for birds and small animals.
Learn how to make various homemade ornaments to mark milestones in your children’s lives. For example, you can make hand and footprint ornaments out of clay to show how little their fingers and toes were. A few popsicle sticks, some glitter, glue and yarn make a beautiful photo frame for showcasing your favorite holiday memories.
6. Midnight Services
Even if your family doesn’t normally attend worship, there’s something serene about taking in a midnight service. If you follow the Christian faith, you’ll follow the ceremony practiced by your denomination. Many such events feature tons of holiday carols and candlelight processions to honor the spirit of the season.
If you aren’t among the faithful, you can still design a private ritual to mark the season’s passing and give thanks for another year on earth. Spend some time in meditation or write a reflective journal entry on all the things you learned over the past 12 months and what you hope to accomplish in the next.
Many soup kitchens get their fill of volunteers during the holiday season. My family tries to fill in shifts in the weeks immediately before and after the holidays. Unfortunately, hunger doesn’t only occur on certain days of the year.
Such work is a fabulous way to introduce your children to the joy of giving back to their community. You can make it fun. If ladling out healthy vittles doesn’t excite your little ones, why not take a shift as a volunteer dog walker for a local shelter?
8. Spending Time With Loved Ones
My favorite holiday tradition of all is spending time with those I love. It’s easy to get caught up in the hecticness of daily life. The holidays give us all time to pause and cherish those we hold dear.
If you’re a shift worker who puts in hours over the holiday, find some time afterward where you can connect with those you love. If travel costs prohibit you from getting together, set up a special FaceTime or Zoom call when you can see each other across the miles.
8 Holiday Traditions I Love
I love the above eight holiday traditions. What are your favorite ways to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year?