Start Simple Rituals that Make Memories
Repetition is an important learning tool for a child. What better opportunity to teach through repetition than holiday time? The year Josh and Estee Birnbaum's son turned three, they began what has become an annual ritual of family storytelling after lighting the first candle on their menorah. "One of us begins the story by offering its beginning. The next person starts off where the other left off, and so on until the story reaches a natural conclusion," says Estee, who lives with Josh and their three children in a suburb of Seattle, Washington. "With this tradition, we create something together as a family as the year draws to an end. In addition to being fun and memorable, it's kind of a symbol of what we can do when we all work together."
Let Go of Traditions that Drain Your Energy
Amy Melton of Houston, Texas, has been letting go of some things she used to do to free up her time to enjoy the moment. Even though making homemade Danish has been a tradition in her family for several generations, Amy decided not to include that tradition last year. "It was just too much to do," Amy recalls. The famous Danish recipe takes several hours to make, and she was hosting people on Christmas Eve, which is when the making and baking of the Danish traditionally takes place. "I wanted to enjoy time with our guests, so I let go of the tradition for once. Instead, we all got to enjoy sitting around watching Max open up gifts ... and you know what? No one even missed the Danish!"
Taking this advice into consideration, I'm hoping that if my son wants me to sit with him in the dark, I won't miss the opportunity to share that time with him, even if I am hurrying to get something done by a deadline. I hope to be fully present in the present, focusing only on the moment at hand. It is the most precious gift we can give—to others and to ourselves.