As soon as Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas excitement begins! The whole month of December is an amazing opportunity to establish family traditions – rituals that ground children in their roots and help them to create meaning and a sense of belonging. Family traditions help to mark shared experiences, encourage intimacy and connection, and help children to identify in a positive way with their families.
Consider, for example, the tradition of the family meal. A review of research literature from July 2011 found that families who ate meals together regularly were more likely to be connected to one another, and that teenagers who eat at least 5 meals a week with their family are 35% less likely to suffer from eating disorders.1 Christmas rituals are some of the most wonderful ways to establish family traditions within the home – traditions that will likely be carried over into the lives of future generations.
Homeschoolers have the perfect opportunity to be intentional about family Christmas traditions, as these events and activities can be incorporated as part of the daily educational process. Make December fun! Here are some ideas for wonderful Christmas traditions to begin with your family:
- Make a Jesse Tree. This meaningful and fun tradition involves creating or buying ornaments to hang on a special tree, each day before Christmas. Each ornament symbolizes a particular part of God’s plan for salvation through the birth of Christ, beginning with creation. For an explanation of the Jesse Tree, as well as instructions and resources, read the Jesse Tree post at TheHomeSchoolMom.
- Give a personalized ornament. Make or buy a special ornament for each child, which is individualized to his or her personality or experiences in the past year. Give each child his or her ornament on Christmas Eve. As a yearly tradition, this also provides children with a special group of ornaments to take with them when they leave home and celebrate their own Christmas.
- Save change for the less fortunate. Use a cider jug throughout the year to save change. At Christmastime, have a special “hot cider” night, and take all of the money out of the jug. Use the money to purchase something for the less fortunate.
- Look at Christmas lights – What better way is there to get in the spirit than take a trip in the car to look at Christmas lights? To make the journey even more fun, print out some certificates for “Best Lights” and put them in the mailboxes of those homes you believe have the best light displays.
- Go caroling – Get together a few families and bless your neighborhood with some songs! Going door-to-door is a perfect way to build Christmas cheer, but you can make it even more meaningful by caroling to the elderly at a nursing home or veteran’s hospital.
- Make a special Christmas breakfast – Make a special breakfast on Christmas morning. Take a break part-way through gift opening to enjoy some special holiday recipes. Consider these options:
- Cinnamon Toast Strata
- French Toast Christmas Trees
- Mashed Potato Pancakes
- Apple-Stuffed French Toast
- Make-ahead Scrambled Eggs in Puffed Pastry
- Breakfast Casseroles make the perfect beginning to Christmas morning.
- Oven Berry Pancakes
- Christmas Coffee
- Eggnog Pancakes with Cranberry Sauce
- Candy Cane Coffee Cakes
- Christmas Crepes
- Scrambled Potatoes
- Watch home movies of past Christmases – Having family together on Christmas day, with plenty of time for just relaxing, makes home movies the perfect pastime! Pull out the videos of Christmases past and comment on how much everyone has changed!
Stay tuned for more Christmas tradition ideas in Part 2!