Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Making Your Holidays More Meaningful

Just before Thanksgiving, over on The Chart Chick, I blogged about some creative, holiday decorating ideas that incorporate family history. I am very proud to say that I followed through on my desire to accomplish one of the ideas for my own Thanksgiving dinner and the results were amazing! Take a look at my pictures. It was really awesome to have our ancestors there at the dinner table with us.  It sparked several conversations about specific ancestors and it made us all feel a lot more thankfulness for everyone who had come before.  I think it was really beautiful too.  So we have a new holiday tradition at our house.

I put the pictures together digitally and then printed the whole thing on vinyl.  It was was really durable--even when we spilled food on it.  While that is a little outside of the norm for us, we can still do one for you, of course, if you like what you see.  Send me an email or give me a call (801-472-1091) and we can talk about the particulars of how to put your table runner together. Another option for you is something Rachel and I pulled together a couple of summers ago. You can check out the original blog post and YouTube tutorial here. Either way, I can't recommend this idea enough. It made a huge impact on our family now to share a meal with our ancestors from the past.

So this idea of decorating for the holidays with your family history got me to thinking about all the ways we could make this holiday season more meaningful. Like you, I've thought thought about what makes for a "Good Christmas Morning" or "Perfect Chanukah Gift." It isn't stuff. I know we all know this, but do we really know it? So I'm issuing a challenge to all of you (and myself) this December. Let's think of ways to really make this holiday season a meaningful one. One that, when our children and grandchildren look back, they won't remember what they got (because let's face it, they won't) but rather what they felt.

So let's talk about some ways to do that. Here's a ready to go list for you, for easy reference and personal application.  You can thank me later. ;)

  • Decorate Your Home With Memories - Take a look at my Thanksgiving Decor blog post. It's jam packed with ideas that will work for your Christmas or Chanukah celebration as well. Not to mention easy-peasy, meaningful gifts. Or better yet, center your decorations around a custom made, decorative chart. You still have time for your domestic orders to make it in time for Christmas and Chanukah! Contact us today!
  • Heartfelt Chanukah In 8 Steps - I love this article from Simple Kids. Robin, the author of this particular article, has got it right on with this! What amazing parenting advice for a meaningful, quiet remembrance of this miraculous holiday. She's even given links to help you plan your own tender moments with your family. She also offers advice on how she helps her children to understand and support their friends who celebrate Christmas, while still giving them the confidence and security of embracing their own holiday and traditions. She also gets to the heart of the whole aspect of teaching your children, through traditions, why certain aspects of Chanukah exist and how that affects them. Her words and perspectives are beautiful. What a great mom!
  • Christmas Advent Activities - So this idea may be just a little late in the game (December came fast this year!), but it's worth jumping on now, while we still can. Maybe you remember those little cardboard Advent calendars from your youth with foil wrapped chocolates, or perhaps your family lit an advent wreath, or maybe you made a paper chain at school and relished in tearing off a link each day. In whatever fashion you know an advent calendar, Thomas over at Geneabloggers has a wealth of family history themed advent ideas. In fact, I have even seen tweets already of people clamoring for his collection of genealogy themed advents. Go ahead and take a look and see what ideas tickle your family's fancy. The children will love the countdown and you will love infusing your personal family narrative into the tradition. That will last longer than any foil wrapped chocolate ever could, I promise!
  • Keep An Old Tradition - Talk to your children and find out what they think your holiday traditions are.  A few years ago, one of my employees and her husband were surprised to discover that their children considered dinner at their family's favorite restaurant in Salt Lake City and new pajama's on Christmas Eve to be "their family tradition." At the time it was something her family had only done once or twice, but the children identified it as what their family did on Christmas Eve. She and her husband didn't question it and decided that from then on, if the children felt it was a tradition, then it was. Over a decade later, they still celebrate Christmas Eve the same way.
  • Storytelling - Dig back into your memory and pull forward everything you've ever heard about how your ancestors celebrated the holidays and share it! It's fascinating to learn how things used to be and I can promise your children will absolutely appreciate their holiday now when they learn about how holidays then used to go. There is a little bit of thankfulness involved there when kids see things as they used to be. Not to mention how curious your children may become once you start talking about how meals were prepared or gifts were made. They may even want to tackle some of those things themselves--which would be a parenting touchdown for you!
  • Service - This time of year, we're all more tender hearted and aware of those who are having a harder time than we are. Opportunities to serve are endless and it seems like charities come out of the woodwork. Decide as a family on a particular charity or service project you identify with and go for it with gusto. It could be a gift tree at your local super store, Toys for Tots, Project Linus, Little Dresses for Africa, or any of your local charities. Children's hospitals are a great place to start, if you are looking for something really hands on to do with your family (meaning: your children actually see the impact of their service). One of my employees still remembers the gratitude she felt for families that came and served dinner at the Ronald McDonald House when her son was hospitalized for a week after an emergency surgery. While the businesses that ordered in pizzas were appreciated, it meant the most to her to say thank you to teenagers who had spent the day making fajitas or lasagnas with their parents. This is the easiest time of year to get your children and grandchildren invested in helping others. Start small and watch them catch fire--because they will. Service is contagious!
Hopefully this will get your gears turning on how you and your family can come together in different ways to create a more memorable and meaningful holiday season.  Televisions and Barbies only hold our attention for so long before they are just another everyday thing. But memories will light our minds for years to come--and they will be passed on for generations in future story telling. So when you get overwhelmed with your holiday to-do list, slow down and think about what really matters and what will really last. Make this holiday season one that will draw your family together and strengthen your relationships for the long haul.

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