How often do we look back on the holidays with a sense of nostalgia and a longing for warm memories? Chances are your best memories come from spending time with the ones closest to you. The truth is, sometimes we get so busy finding and wrapping presents, we forget to treasure the best gift of all - the gift of time and attention. Here are 8 things you can do to make lasting Christmas memories with your family.
READ CHRISTMAS BOOKS AS A FAMILY
With so many forms of entertainment these days, the magic of reading books would seem to be in jeopardy. Yet there is more magic that comes from the words of a book than all the special effects on earth.
One of our favorite holiday traditions has been to read Christmas books and allow those touching stories to play out in the theater of our minds.
HERE ARE A FEW WE RECOMMEND:
WATCH HOME MOVIES & PULL OUT PHOTO ALBUMS
When I was a young child we used to watch our old 8 mm family films on Christmas Eve. I remember sitting by a roaring fire in my Christmas pajamas while our family laughed at old, grainy footage of a time long gone.
By spending time as a family enjoying old memories, we were reminded that the best gifts we could ever hope for weren't under the Christmas tree, but sitting around it.
Try to watch home videos as a family.
If you can prepare some old video footage or photos in advance, you will be surprised how much your children will enjoy seeing themselves when they were younger - or when you were a child.
You're never too old, or too young, to serve people in secret. In fact, anonymous acts of service often bring a joy to your heart that lasts far longer than anything you can buy with money.
This Christmas try to do one or more of the following:
- Search for a family who may be struggling and drop a box of gifts at their doorstep.
- Find a way to pay a utility bill for someone in need.
- Leave a note in someone's mailbox with an observation about something you admire about them.
There are so many ways to serve others. The important part is doing something special for someone, unnoticed.
LOCAL HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES
If available in your area, find local Christmas plays or performances to attend. High school plays, musical performances and other theatrical presentations are all ways to support your community. You can also search your city's listings to see if there are any special performances you might attend. As you invest your time enjoying various art forms for the holiday, you will find yourself being swept up in the best parts of the season.
Some classics are:
- The Christmas Story
- The Nutcracker
- A Christmas Carol
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
During Mitchell's last Christmas, two separate families decided to give Mitch a 12 Days of Christmas surprise at our doorstep each night. Little Mitch had so much fun learning about the new surprises. Each gift was thoughtful and had a special meaning to our family.
It wasn't just the gift that was special, it was the special care they took to be thoughtful that made it amazing for our family. As you think of families you might serve in this way, take a close look at their family dynamic and try to give them gifts that celebrate their family and create bonds between them.
Read this essay about Mitch and Secret Santa: http://mitchellsjourney.org/essays/2013/12/24/a-gift-twice
CANDY MAKING AS A FAMILY
Make candy as a family! You'll be surprised how fun it can be. Don't worry about making a mess - just have fun doing it and let your kids express themselves. Take photos while you're at it. You'll thank yourself later.
If you don't do candy, make cookies - but experiment. Try something you haven't done before.
If you don't have kids, invite a neighbor family over to participate. Or just do it yourself.
Find someone special to share your candy creations with.
Here are 17 Recipes you can try.
PLAY IN THE SNOW
Seriously. Play. In the snow.
- Make snow caves.
- Build jumps for sleighs.
- When you go sledding, bring hot chocolate with you. There are new vacuum-sealed thermoses (Yeti & Takeya) that can keep hot chocolate piping hot for 12 hours.
- If you can, bring a Bluetooth speaker and play Christmas music in the background. It really adds to the experience.
- Be sure to take photos of your snow play, too.
For Mitchell's last Christmas, we made a special effort to play in the snow - and looking back, we're so glad we did.
If you live in a warm climate, just play outside!
With all of the fun and exciting ways to celebrate Christmas, remembering the reason for the holiday in the first place is the most important thing of all. Take time to connect to the spiritual aspects of Christmas and the Savior's sacrifice.
There is nothing wrong with the commercial aspects of Christmas, like Santa & sleigh bells, just remember the reason for the season.