Now that my son is older I think about holiday traditions, not gifts.
I know you’re bored and burned out on Covid and being stuck with your people 24/7.
People are buying so much crap in the middle of a pandemic and an economic downturn FedEx can’t keep up.
Your inbox is overflowing right now, but you ignore most of it because everybody is trying to sell you something you can’t afford and don’t need.
I’ve never bought into the idea that my child needs a pile of gifts on Christmas morning. I don’t want him to think that’s the norm.
He doesn’t “need” any of the gifts he will get.
When I asked him to make a list he wrote down a couple Lego sets, some books, and a PS5.
This isn’t enough for all the aunts and uncles, man?
Tell them just to get me games for the PS5 then. <insert eyeroll>
I am big on the difference between wants and needs. I am also big on making sure my son’s memories involve family and community service activities. Not just presents.
Holiday Traditions, Not Presents
Adopt a Family
By the age of 5 or 6 most children grasp the idea of working to build a better community, or at least the idea of helping others. I encourage parents to talk to their children about social issues in a general way.
Say something like, “some people do not have any presents so we are going to help them.”
Here in my hometown the local YWCA has a program whereby you adopt a family, shop for them, and then drop off the gifts by a set date. I know several small business and families who have done this in the past and it is always a rewarding experience.
This year my son and I also picked out a few gifts for children in his school whose families were in need. We purchased simple things like school clothes, shoes and family games. E really enjoyed the idea of helping children in his own school.
Consider ways your children could volunteer with you. Volunteering as a family is a great way to make memories.
Most small children enjoy sorting, so you could always collect and sort canned and dry goods and make a donation. I noticed that my local food bank actually takes “behind the scenes” volunteers, so you do not necessarily have to serve food; there are lots of ways to get involved.
Enjoy the Christmas Lights
My son loves driving around and pointing out other people’s lights. This year he got really into helping out when Dad put lights outside of our house.
When he was little we used to drive around so he could see the cool displays people did. About 2 years ago we started going to one of our county parks to walk through a professional light display. Rocky Ridge Christmas Magic is so much fun.
The added bonus of going to an event like this is that you are on your feet walking, so you get a bit of needed exercise. Annnnd it’s outdoors with limited numbers of people so you can avoid the ‘Rona.
Bake Some Cookies
Normally I am super weird about what my child eats. During the holiday season I do allow him some treats in the form of cookies and a chocolate Christmas Calendar. The pieces are pretty tiny in the calendar.
This is obviously not a health tip. Baking is more about memories than the food itself.
As a kid I looked forward to making cookies with my Grandma more than eating them. Now that she’s gone, I’m determined to replicate some of her recipes.
My favorite are pizzelle cookies. I have the iron and her recipe, and the kid swears he will help me. (affiliate link. see my full disclosure)
Remember that song from the Beastie Boys, She’s Crafty?
Yeah well, crafty is not a word that would describe me. I do not sew, paint, scrapbook or draw. The last time I used a glue gun I burned myself and had a blister for a week.
One year we had a few friends come over and we made ugly sweaters. It was great fun and everyone involved will remember it for quite a while.
THIS year obviously it would have to be just the people you live with.
Gather some older sweaters and t-shirts from around your house, then mask up and go to the Dollar Tree. Buy as many ugly trimmings as you can justify, along with some fabric glue. Or better yet bust out the glue gun. (affiliate link. see my full disclosure)
Start New Traditions
It seems like we’ve done the same thing or things every year for so long.
Several years ago, some friends of ours (who are actually Jewish) started a Christmas Eve Power Hour. At the time there were no children involved, so the adults all got together and attempted to drink every minute for an hour while listening to TV show themes.
It was hilarious. The hangover not so much.
Now that we all have children and grandchildren our yearly tradition is changing.
The point is there is nothing wrong with forming new traditions. Just because we get comfortable doing the same things in the same place with the same people every year, doesn’t mean we are incapable of enjoying something new.
Grab your family and start a new tradition this year!
Talk to your children about the Holiday Season and what it means to give back.
Or even more important, just be together. The holidays don’t have to be all about the gifts all the time. There are so many fun and educational activities out there just waiting to be discovered.