By Carolyn Tomlin
Shops overflow with holiday gifts. Carols ring out from every street corner. Bell ringers collect monetary contributions for needy families. Families spend time together. If you’re like many families at Christmas, you continue the same traditions handed down by parents and grandparents. Could your clan honor their history while starting a few new customs? Perhaps these suggestions will work for you.
Collect small Christmas tree ornament from other countries. As family members travel outside the U.S., ask them to purchase a locally made ornament to hang on the tree. Inexpensive and requiring minimum luggage space, they will be symbolic of your vacation or mission trip. During a holiday get-together, share something about the country you visited and the people you met.
Video creating a favorite family recipe. My mother was known for her chicken and dressing. She knew the exact amount of sage, black pepper, onions, and stock to make it delicious. The problem: she never wrote it down. Like many great cooks of this generation, she cooked by taste. Today, with smartphones and other technology, we can make a short video and email it to others. The auditory and visual presentation will provide the knowledge of keeping those favorite holiday recipes around.
Adopt a family project each year. Correspond by phone or email with family members and make a checklist of available service projects in your area. Ask each person to vote on their choice. The project with the highest number of votes will be the winner. Suggestions could include “Adopting a Family” for Christmas, scheduling a “Make-a-Difference Day” in December for the entire family; or preparing and serving a holiday dinner to a homeless center. Children can request extra chores and donate part of their allowance for a month. Adults can save change and forgo restaurants meals. Celebrate the spirit of giving back to those less fortunate.
Attend a Christmas service of Scripture and Carols. Churches and Christian colleges present free community concerts during the Christmas season. Sit together as a family and support those who have spent hours in preparation. Afterward, meet for light dessert and coffee. Plan to make this annual event.
Consider alternative gift ideas. Does grandfather really need a necktie with blue toadstools? Or does Aunt Sally have space for another wall hanging? Instead of all the relatives exchanging gifts, donate to a local charity in honor of a loved one. Or agree to provide dog and cat food to an animal shelter. Chew toys are always needed for dogs.
As you celebrate the birth of Jesus, think of new traditions your family can enjoy. Adapt some of the older customs with these fresh ones. Spend time with those you love.
Carolyn Tomlin, Jackson, TN, writes for the magazine and newspaper market. What I Wish I’d Known Sooner: Parents is available on Amazon and Kindle.