By Emily Chase
Celebration of Christmas demands that we maintain certain family traditions year after year. Some traditions satisfy the desires of eager children, while others protect exhausted parents. Here are five easy suggestions for trimming those traditions to fit the current season.
Decorating the house is the first challenge of the season. Stores begin decorating their shelves before Halloween so why not follow their example and get an early start? Combine Halloween costumes with Christmas themes and have your kids dress up as a Christmas wreath or an oversized Christmas stocking. When they come home, just have them hang the costume on the front door or over the fireplace mantel. Your neighbors have helpfully filled the stocking with candy treats so you can cross that chore off your list too.
Have you accumulated a mountain of cardboard cutouts covered with macaroni and glitter that your kids made in preschool? Your children are now in high school, and your family tree is beginning to look like more a bulletin board covered with post it notes. Start a new tradition. Recycle those ornaments! Have your children write notes on the back and send them to their former teachers as greeting cards. Think of the joy the teachers will experience knowing the child that emptied the entire bottle of glitter into the fruit punch still remembers them.
Sane families enjoy sleeping in on a holiday morning, but some children have a tradition of rising early on Christmas and waking their parents in order to celebrate the dawn. Curb their enthusiasm for those wee hours of the morning by establishing a tradition of your own: No one comes in to wake Mom and Dad until after 7:00 a.m. If this fails, go one step further: After the kids are asleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in their ipods, tiptoe into each child’s room, pick up the digital clock, and reset it to read an hour earlier. After all, if Uncle Sam can instill daylight saving time, why can’t we introduce sleeptight saving time? Just remember there’s a reason they call it Eastern Standard Time. Set every house clock to the new time. If your kids enter your room and find your clock reading the regular time, you are busted.
Children are always eager to begin opening gifts, so release some of the pent‑up excitement by heading it off at the pass. Allow your kids to open one gift on Christmas Eve before they head to bed. If your daughter has her heart’s desire set on an EasyBake Oven, hide it under the pile of gifts. You, of course, bought the special light bulbs required to heat the oven. Allow her to open the pack of lightbulbs on Christmas Eve for an unforgettable memory. Trust me, I tried this one, and my daughter has never forgotten.
Traditions accumulate like calories on a plate of cookies. Year after year, you hang cards the same way, make candy‑cane cookies, and deliver homemade bread to neighbors. As your children grow older and head off to college, simplify. Do you really need to assemble that huge artificial Christmas tree again? Cut your work in two by only assembling the top half of the tree. The tree may not look as well proportioned, but everyone will comment on how much time you saved.
Traditions can be modified, but one element should never change. This year when you rise on Christmas morning, take time to remember the reason for the season. Jesus Christ was born!
“Let us thank God for His priceless gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15, GNB)