When my husband and I got married, we both agreed we wanted our family to have many traditions, especially when it came to the holidays.
We had no idea at the time that God would bless us (rather quickly, I might add) with four children, so we were able to get started right away creating traditions that we hope will be passed on from generation to generation.
If you have children or grandchildren, or if you just want to make the holidays more memorable for you and your spouse, it’s never too late to create some traditions that are sure to make this time of year special.
Even if you have teenagers and are dreading their negativity when you exclaim, "Time to make cookies for Santa," more often than not, they secretly enjoy this activity.
One of our favorite holiday food traditions (and you probably knew that food was going to come up somewhere in all of this), is to allow every family member to pick whatever food they want to eat for Christmas Eve dinner.
Over the years, this has been quite an amusing thing to witness. When our children were young, they would request hot dogs, pizza, double cheeseburgers, etc.
Fairly quickly, we had to establish a few ground rules: A maximum of three food items could be chosen.
And because one child had a serious sweet tooth, we had to say the foods couldn’t be dessert. Dessert on Christmas Eve is always the cookies we make for Santa … we just make extra for ourselves. Of course Santa always gets a special cookie from each child.
If you are wondering what my husband and I typically eat on this special night, the answer is lobster. Now that our children are older, they too have jumped on the lobster bandwagon. The old days were more affordable.
Here are some other favorite family Christmas traditions. E-mail me some of yours.
• Create a Christmas scrapbook. Every year add updated pages with current pictures of the family. Record what is happening in the family at the time, i.e. what sports children are playing, school subjects that are current favorites, etc.
• Have a family baking day. Do some preparations ahead of time so that you have ingredients, recipes, containers, etc. Instead of purchasing gifts for teachers and co-workers, give them homemade treats.
• Attend holiday church services. Even if your family does not have a church "home," this is the perfect time of year to visit one of our many local churches.
• Do some volunteer work. Nothing teaches children about the joy of giving more than when they give of themselves. Spend a few hours at a soup kitchen or working at one of the numerous nonprofit agencies in our county. Adopt a needy family and help to make their Christmas special.
• Take a drive around the county to simply enjoy the lights. If you can work it into your budget, take a trip to see the spectacular lights at Lake Lanier Islands. Young and old will love this treat. Allow time to visit with Santa at Santa’s workshop at the end of the tour of lights.
• Bring some treats to a nursing home. Remember that many of these folks will spend the holidays alone.
• Have frequent family movie nights and watch Christmas movies. Be sure and enjoy classics like "It’s a Wonderful Life" and the old version of "Miracle on 34th Street."
• Make Christmas ornaments. Craft stores have plenty of supplies ideas for creating a one-of-a-kind ornament.
• If you have children, this is the perfect month to do a major room cleanout. When our children were young, we would clean out their closets, toy chests and under their beds. We would box everything up and take the toys to charity. We also stressed giving away "good" toys and not just the ones they were tired of.
• Go see "A Christmas Carol" or just watch one of the many renditions. Nothing puts you in the Christmas spirit quicker than hearing Ebenezer Scrooge say, "Bah, humbug."
• Play Christmas music and build a fire. Make it a point to sit around the fire and talk about your fondest Christmas memories.
No matter what you do, remember the reason for the season. Merry Christmas!
Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.