Christmas memories . . . What are yours like? Do you think of caroling and decorating the tree? Of building snowmen and going sledding? Of stringing popcorn and baking cookies?
Do your memories include pictures that dim the sparkle of the season? Does the Ghost of Christmas Past dredge up memories of too much drinking, angry voices, crying children . . .?
This Christmas you’re the parent. You are the one who can paint a bright new picture for your own little family. And it begins one tradition at a time.
Anticipate Christmas Future. Look at your little one today. Next, picture him at the age you are now. What would you like his Christmas memories to be? What can you do today to make sure he knows he is loved? Begin to make that happen. Here’s how.
Out with the old. What joy-stealers have “always” been part of past holidays? Delete them from your new family’s traditions. For example, if drugs and alcohol have ruined too many Christmases, tell yourself, “In my family, our tradition is a clean and sober holiday.” Or if difficult relatives are on your must-visit list, keep the visit to a polite minimum. Your child needs peace on his little earth, and you can help preserve it.
In with the new. Replace those old joy-stealers with new memory-makers: sledding, snowmen, reading stories under a blanket . . . Create fun traditions that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Some traditions start by chance: a borrowed movie that becomes a yearly favorite, a stroll downtown to see all the lights, a race to catch the first snowflakes on your tongues . . .
Great traditions will:
> Engage your senses
Smell and taste those Christmas cookies.
Listen to mommy’s voice reading the Christmas story in the flicker of candlelight.
Cuddle together on the couch to watch the snow fall.
> Connect you to your heritage
Eat regional or ethnic food. (Lutefisk, anyone?)
Go caroling with your neighborhood church.
Gather with loved ones and tell the old family jokes again.
> Be affordable
Shop our Boutique. At Choices, using your Earn While You Learn Baby Bucks won’t cost you a thing.
Go to “Christmas by Candlelight” in downtown Redwood Falls the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Make a ribbon trail. When a child has to follow a colorful ribbon over the sofa, into the kitchen and beyond to find his gift, one present can seem like twenty!
Build gradually. This year pick one tradition you really want to do because it makes you happy, and one thing that will make your child feel treasured. Don’t forget to take pictures of all the fun! Next year, add in something new. As the years go by, keep what works and let go of what doesn’t.
And remember, things don’t always work out as planned. Leave room for the gap between your hopes and the imperfect but joy-filled reality. Like the rest of us, you’ll have Christmas memories that will make you chuckle and say, “Remember the year when . . .?”
So go make some memories. Oh, how happy you and your child can be as you begin to cherish your very own family traditions!
Brighten someone’s holiday — Share this post with a new parent you know.