Try Customs from around the World
Judy Goetz, of Bel Air, Maryland, exposed her children to various customs around the world to create excitement for the holidays. She recalls one particular year when her children, Stephanie and Shannon, wanted to experience the Dutch custom of putting their shoes outside their doors so that St. Nicholas could leave a present or candy in them.
Unfortunately, Judy did not let her husband in on the plan. “Jack came down the hall on his way to bed and thought the kids had forgotten to put their shoes away,” Judy says. “So, he opened their bedroom door and threw their shoes inside–none too gently, I might add!" The kids awoke in the morning to shoes and candy scattered all over their bedroom! Though the custom didn’t quite go off as planned, it became a fond memory for Judy and her family.
Plan Ahead for Special Events
Sure, we’d all like for lovely family moments to happen spontaneously, but sometimes we’re so wrapped up in getting the things on our holiday “to-do” list checked-off that the fun things never happen. The Kaeser family does many things around Christmas like tromping through the outdoors on an annual winter hike and going ice-skating. “We even watch “Christmas Story” together and yell out all the great lines!” Lisa says. “Sadly, though, if I don’t schedule these times, they might not happen.”
Decorate Beyond the Tree
Surrounding your family with reminders of the holidays helps to create an on-going sense of excitement with young children. The James family likes to buy small Christmas items to place throughout the house. “Usually these things are very inexpensive trinkets that you can get from your local drug or gift store,” Jennifer explains. “I also buy little things like Christmas soaps and candles and place them around the house for the season.” When you decorate more than just the tree, it reminds everyone that the holidays are approaching, regardless of what room they are in.
Make the Holiday Special for Others
The holidays offer a perfect opportunity to instill a sense of gratitude and kindness in children. One way to do this is to engage kids in some activity that benefits others who are less fortunate.
Margie Neff of Frederick, Maryland, is able to involve her children through a program at her church. “We take advantage of the opportunity for our children to contribute their allowance money, together with our funds, to purchase gifts for needy children,” she explains. It’s something they do every year as a family, and the children understand that they are contributing something meaningful by making someone else’s Christmas a little nicer. “This helps keep the focus on giving as well as receiving,” Margie says.
The holidays are a special time of year. A time to celebrate and appreciate. A time to be reflective and grateful. A time to love and rejoice. And a time to spend with family, continuing traditions and creating memories that may endure for generations. It excites children to think of the holidays as being a little bit magical—and that entices us to keep the enchantment alive.