Friday, December 23, 2011

Traditions that Teach

By Diane Kniowski

When the holidays arrive, the biggest thing I think about it the past. I think about many Christmas celebrations and the fun I had. I think about my favorite gifts received. I think about all the great food consumed. I think about my family. I think about how it has changed over the years.

We start out as the child. We become the parent. We become the Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent.
The constant in our lives is the Holiday itself. I think the best gift is to be able to hold that day and those people and that exchange of celebration and happiness in our hearts forever.

I would like to offer some of the ways that I make sure there are memorable moments that make the day special. I would also like to share ways to celebrate Christmas past in the Christmas present.

Here are my top 5 things to make the holiday more fun and carry it to the next year.

1.) During the opening of the presents, give someone a paper and pencil and write down the exact quotes and expressions that are being exclaimed. Later at dinner, have everyone around the table read at least one or two of the expressions and words used during the gift exchange or the Santa moments.
It is really fun to have the family read out load the silly expressions and words used and try and guess who said them. In my family, you may hear things like...."Is this candy or is this a bar of soap?" or "Are these underwear or is this a headband?" Or my personal favorite, "I love that you think I am a size small." Make sure to date the writings. I save them we laugh as I read these the next year.

2) I save all the Christmas Cards from the previous years, especially if they are from loved ones that are no longer with us. I sit down with the family while the lights on the tree are twinkling and quietly we take turns reading the cards and tell a thoughtful or funny story about that person and how they impacted our life. It is a wonderful way to honor our past and teach our children how important the people around us shape us.

3) My family was fairly poor, so my Mother and my Aunts used to gather leaves, pinecones, thistle and milkweed and use bits of nature to decorate our table and our tree. I continue to bring nature into my home and every year I spray paint, spray glue and glitter in the memory of my Mother, Louise and her sisters, Kay and Angie. I make sure to save some of the sprinkling of glitter for the young nieces. Each Christmas I take them into the garage and have them sprinkle glitter on the leaves and pinecones that we are going to place on the dessert table. It gives me an opportunity to tell them all about my Mother and her sisters. I love to share the stories of how, for very little money, my Mother found ways to make Christmas happen for days as we gathered the pinecones, pressed the leaves and prepared for the paint and glue days ahead. We always helped put our finished decorations on the table and tree and beamed with pride at a job well done. I didn't realize until later that the finished product wasn't the real joy. It was the time together learning how to make anything special by getting creative.

4) I love to take pictures. I take pictures all day long. I take pictures of the trees, the gifts, the food, the cookies, the cats, the snow. I make sure that I print a few of the photos and put them in a folder with the Christmas cards and funny Christmas morning sayings. I date the folder, and the next year, I show everyone present the Christmas just past.

5) I like to hide presents around the house and put clues on the Christmas tree. Every year, I save one present for each person that I hide. They must look for clues on the tree and guess the location of their present. If you do this for each person, it makes the present opening time last so much longer.

The holidays are what you make them. For me, the holidays are a celebration of everyone and all great memories from my life. The ornaments on my tree are directly tied to memories. I view my Christmas Tree as a celebration of my life and the people in my life.
You must make the holidays what you want them to be. Find ways to make them special for you and everyone in your life.

May these holidays and all remaining holidays bring you closer to your dreams and bring your family members closer to your heart.
Happy Holidays.


Patricia Kiyono said...

Thanks for sharing, Diane. It sounds like your Christmases are really busy, but I'm sure the effort is appreciated by everyone in the pictures and stories. I hope this Christmas is special for your family, too.

Bronwyn Green said...

I LOVE your holiday traditions - they're absolutely wonderful!!!