I am truly blessed to have had parents who took the time and put forth the effort to create family traditions for me that I cherish even more than I ever imagined as an adult. I am especially grateful now since the world has become so wired and fast. My parents always showed me that I was loved and valued. They gave me an amazing childhood which molded me into the person I am today. My only sadness is that they passed away before they had a chance to meet my daughters and could enjoy being their grandparents. I wish my daughters could have known my parents in person. I am determined, though, that they will get to know them through me and the stories and traditions that I pass down to them. I have big shoes to fill. I am not naïve enough to think I can instantly create all of the beautiful traditions and memories my parents created for my twin two-year-old girls. However, I’m willing to start imparting those wonderful gifts to my daughters beginning with the holidays. As time goes on, I will work my way up to making family traditions and memories all throughout the year.
When I was a child, my mom would let me pick out an ornament for our Christmas tree each year and she would write the year on it. I loved that and looked forward to it each December. Putting up the Christmas tree was fun because I would happily decorate it with the ornaments I had chosen. I didn’t understand at the time that she had a greater plan for my ornaments. When I moved out of the house, she gave me the ornaments to take with me. My new adult Christmas tree already had a great collection of ornaments that I adored to get the decorating started. This is a tradition that I have done with my girls since birth. Each of my daughters gets to choose their own ornament every year which they will take with them if I decide to let them move out of the house many years from now, lol! I’ve added a new twist to the family tradition. I buy a third ornament each year and select one that tells something about our family’s experiences over the year. It’s my hope that as they grow, my girls and I will be able to decorate our family tree together. Hopefully seeing the ornaments will trigger memories and lead to laughter and tears as we reminisce about cherished times we have shared over the years.
My parents were incredible human beings. They always instilled in me from my childhood that I should try to leave any place I went a little better than I found it. This became a guiding principle for me in the way I live my life. As a tribute to their example I’ve created a tradition for my family that I’m hoping my daughters will honor as an important part of our lives together. We decorated a large mason jar to make it look and feel extra special. I tell my girls that their grandparents are watching over them from heaven, love them very much and that they are very proud of them especially when they do things that are kind and helpful to others. Every time they do something really special, I write it on a strip of paper and put it in the jar. On Christmas morning after they open their gifts, I open the jar and read the nice things on the strips of paper they’ve done over the year. I tell them those things are the gifts they have given to me and their grandparents and we love how kind they are. I love this tradition and I know it will only come to mean more to my daughters as they continue to get older. I’ve heard of others who do something similar in their families and tell their children that it is their gift to Jesus. No matter how one might create this tradition for their family, I’m sure most people agree that the world could use a lot more kindness.
Another tradition I’ve started at Christmas is updating my daughters’ library. My girls love to read and getting new books is a real treat for them. Each day in December from the 1st to the 25th, I put a bow on a book and hide it in the house. I have them search for the book and when they find it, we curl up in the chair and enjoy family reading time before they go to bed. It’s a great way to grow their library and a fun way to commemorate the days leading up to Christmas. This is one of their favorite activities during the holidays. I Iook forward to doing the same when it’s their birthday month. I know how many books I need and I buy a few each month during the year and stash them away in my closet until we’re ready to search for them.
One of my favorite traditions with my girls is taking them Christmas caroling with a group from our church. We visit and sing to some of the older members of our church who are confined to their homes or a nursing home. It’s touching to see how much their spirits are brightened just by knowing that we care enough to go see them during the holidays. My girls may be too young to know all of the words to every song, but they are by far the most popular members of the group! We also try to find other ways to help in our community in the holiday season whether it is by donating toys and books to children’s hospitals or children in need, helping at the animal shelter, or making cards and spending time visiting nursing homes. There are many ways to foster the spirit of kindness and community service in even the youngest children.
Now that my girls are fast approaching 3 years old (too fast for this mom), I need to get busy coming up with how to get them on board with some of my other favorite holiday activities; baking, listening to Christmas music, and watching Hallmark movies. Somehow I know that it won’t be too difficult! After all, they have already mastered “helping” me in the kitchen just in time to lick the frosting off the spoon!