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Serving up Family Traditions This Holiday Season

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Another holiday season is upon us, and I’m amazed at how fast these weeks at the end of the year seem to fly by, hoping that the many joyous occasions our family shares together will be forever embedded as lasting memories for our three children. Obviously, there’s no guarantees, but one of the best ways we can ensure they’ll later recall the happiness of their childhood is by celebrating some holiday traditions each year.

Recently, I put the question to my Facebook page followers. What are your family’s holiday traditions? I loved reading the responses and learning about some of the unique ways other families like to celebrate the season. Some have chosen running a Turkey Trot race on Thanksgiving morning, cutting down a Christmas tree together, purchasing gifts for children in need, or even baking a birthday cake on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I was pleased that shopping on Black Friday didn’t make anyone’s list!Santa Tracks NORAD

Our family’s traditions are similar. In the weeks before Christmas, we often attend a cookie exchange party. Baking cookies is just one sweet treat we look forward to because I also make loads of peppermint bark that my daughters and I almost exclusively gobble. My children also love participating in the Operation Christmas Child program, and we always take angels from our church’s Christmas tree so that those less fortunate than us can have presents on Christmas. Like many of my Facebook friends, we like to cut down our tree, usually after the 14th of December when by the coincidence of nature or the handiwork of God, three in our family share a birthday.

Awaiting the big holiday, we attend Christmas Eve mass, followed by dinner at home (usually lasagna), a close scan of NOAA’s Santa tracker and then run outside in boots and our pajamas before bed to spread oatmeal and glitter in the backyard, a snack for Santa’s reindeer. We’ve decided that with Santa, his reindeer and all those heavy packages, our backyard is the only sensible option for him to make a safe landing.

Snowball's Chance Ad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Alexander Iziliaev.

The thing is, when I look back on my childhood I can’t remember Christmas or Thanksgiving of 1981 versus 1983. Getting older, the years blur together in my mind, and I’ve wondered if the same will happen for my children some day after their brains are filled with adulthood priorities. Of course, I don’t forget the big, happy moments, like the Christmas of 1985 that I shared with my infant brother, and some of those regular traditions we enjoyed each year will forever be indelible on my mind.

I cherish the privilege I had to attend, almost yearly, the Nutcracker at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. I hold close to my heart the memories of celebrating the Feast of the Seven Fishes at my grandmother’s house on many a Christmas Eve, a product of our Italian heritage. She would allow me to open her pantry door and choose what kind of soda I wanted with my dinner. I think that was the first time I ever drank soda.

Before the night was over my dad would recite Clement Moore’s ‘Twas the Night before Christmas,’ a lovely ritual I now share with my children. Shocking to my tech savvy children, but I had to look to the night sky when conducting those Santa searches, all the while believing I actually heard Santa’s jingle bells because my parents told me they heard them. And, to top off a holiday season, we wouldn’t miss watching a Mummer’s Parade on New Year’s Day.

So even if your family is newly growing, you may find yourself starting small traditions each holiday season. Know that in time these little moments will likely make memories to last a lifetime.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Santa photo: cof-interspiritual-mindfulness.blogspot.com

Nutcracker Photo: by Alexander Iziliaev