As we start getting prepared for the holidays, my children love hearing stories about what my husband and I were like as children. The boxes of decorations stored in the attic are filled with ornaments and memories dating back to my childhood. We spend hours looking at each ornament, from pine cones covered in white glue and glitter to special ones with names and dates engraved on them. The evening is spent retelling stories and reminiscing about years past.
Many of our family’s holiday traditions revolve around the preparation of special foods. Tucked away in my recipe box you will find numerous slips of paper written in my grandmother’s handwriting. These wrinkled notes are somewhat yellowed and are scented with drips of vanilla extract. I treasure memories of my grandmother and I baking sugar cookies in preparation for the holidays.
Each December, my children look forward to decorating gingerbread houses. We plan an evening devoted to baking and decorating. Even the littlest ones get involved, even if in the end, they are covered in icing and sprinkles. If you have a collection of favorite holiday recipes, consider creating a scrapbook with your children. Be sure to include pictures of the kids and their creations. This keepsake can be added to throughout the years as you add new foods to your holiday menu.
The holiday season offers many opportunities for children to learn more about, as well as, participate in family traditions. Traditions enrich childhood memories and create meaningful and heartfelt experiences. Through talking about traditions passed down from generation to generation and creating new ones, children learn about themselves and their families. Sharing regional and cultural traditions teaches children about their community and the world around them.
When I think back to my childhood, my favorite memories involve the Christmas pageant followed by a traditional Christmas Eve dinner, visits with friends and family, and spending time with my cousins. I do remember a few of the special gifts I received through the years, but the traditions are what stand out in my mind. Not all traditions need to be formal and proper. My father-in-law was a French chef, and one of my husband’s favorite traditions was inviting a new guest (or victim) to join the family every year to enjoy escargot on New Year’s Eve. I remember how excited I was to help prepare them my first New Year’s with the family, but I also remember their wicked smiles as I took my first bite. It is a tradition my budding gourmets look forward to each year as well. With my children, I try to focus more on creating holiday traditions, than on the gifts under the tree. I believe that memories are the best gifts I can give to my children.
As your circle of family and friends grow, family traditions start to evolve. These shared traditions reflect your values and the things you hold dear. Traditions can stem from religious celebrations while others come forth through community outreach. A few of our holiday traditions grew from my children’s favorite memories. They look forward to receiving new pajamas each year and eating cinnamon buns with hot cocoa for breakfast on Christmas morning. During the holiday season, embrace those treasured traditions from your past and have fun creating new ones of your own.
This post was originally published on MomItForward.