Nancy O’Dell Shares Family Christmas Traditions You Can Start Now
I don't know if you're like I am, but I'm always trying to come up with things this time of the year that my family will remember forever. And it seems as if I'm asked almost daily during the holiday season, "Does your family have any holiday traditions?" You bet we do!
I look at family Christmas traditions the same way I view photo albums and scrapbooks. I believe those memories are so very important. I once interviewed a child psychologist about the importance of family memories and he verified what I've always thought--that traditions create good feelings and special moments to remember. Traditions help parents pass on values to children. Traditions bridge generations and give family members a sense of belonging and security. Bottom line: they are as much a part of the holiday as Jingle Bells and Rudolph.
I make sure my family participates in traditions from years past, and we create a new one every season. Most importantly, I always try to come up with an end goal that we want the new tradition to help us accomplish. For example, to teach my kids about helping others or to strengthen the family bond. One tradition we started last year was to create an annual family recipe book. We have every person who comes over for Christmas make a dish. That person then writes their recipe down in their own handwriting. We compile those recipes in an album along with photos of the person who cooked it. Then we make multiple copies of the book. I've even had it printed and gave the compiled book as a gift to every family member the next year.
I came up with the idea for a recipe book because I already had my mom's famous biscuit recipe written down in her handwriting. She had scribbled it down for me to save since it was her tradition, and I pulled it out one Christmas to make them. What a great feeling it was to see her writing, and remember making those biscuits with her, as I had so many times as a little girl. It gave me this nice sense of comfort and a feeling that my mom, who has passed away, was with us in a way.
Traditions can be simple or complicated, take time or no time at all. Here are some of my ideas to help make your holiday special:
- For every Friday in December, make it family game night.
- Read a holiday story to your child the 12 days before Christmas in front of the Christmas tree**.
- Make a calendar of all the holiday specials airing on TV and make an appointment with your loved one to watch them. Frosty the Snowman never gets old.
- Start a canned food drive in your neighborhood, then donate to a food bank.
- Every night in December leading up to Christmas, add a figure to the manger scene while reading a part of the Christmas story.
- Deliver treats to service members who will be working Christmas hours, like those at the fire department, the police department or the hospital.
- Instead of spring cleaning, make it holiday cleaning. Clean out your closest and then donate to a homeless shelter.
- As a family, make the Christmas card you send out very special by having each family member share what they are thankful for and their favorite memory from the year.
These are just a few ideas. Come up with ones which work for your family, but make it a tradition to make traditions!
**Nancy has written her own holiday children’s book. It's available here.
By Nancy O’Dell
Nancy O’Dell is best known as the host of Entertainment Tonight. She's also a published author, philanthropist, and creator of Little Ashby: Star Reporter app, and most importantly, the proud mother of three children. Follow her on Twitter (@NancyODell) and check out the newly added Holiday app for kids that Nancy created. It's educational and teaches kids morals, too. Little Ashby: Star Reporter - Santa's Big Premiere is available on iTunes.