Remembering the Purpose of the Holiday

In Donesa Walker, Lola Shreveport by Lola Magazine

Holidays can be highly stressful times full of angst and tasks. But, it is important that we focus on the reason behind the season instead of all the hustle and bustle. This year has added stress due to the supply of goods and toys held up in ports across our nation. What better time to refocus our energies on the why/what of the season rather than the commercialism of the holidays?

Here are a few ways to repurpose your heart and brain this holiday season including ways to stimulate your memory!

Get Creative: Create games from common materials around your home. All homes have junk drawers! Pull one out and dump everything in a bag. Tell the kids or family members to use the stuff in the drawer to create a game for the family to play or create a new Christmas character who might have visited the manger.

Time: Spend time with your kids and family. To a child, love is spelled TIME and you are their greatest gift! Take time to just be with them making memories. We all have each other. Making memories together is priceless!

Focus on Experiences: Rather than spending on random things that likely will be forgotten five holidays from now, spend on experiences. This is especially important for the child/family member who has a love language of acts of service. Plan a picnic at Norton Gardens or go see the lights at The American Rose Gardens. You can make a coupon book of fun things to do throughout the next year together. Let your child anticipate these exciting things and plan when they get to do them with you.

Volunteer: Take time this year to volunteer with your family at a local charity. Read aloud to kids in the classroom or serve at Maggie’s Closet or Community Friendship House. Help other kids with homework after school at The Lighthouse. Spend time with Veterans who are in Veterans’ Homes or at a day camp for Veterans through VOA. We are blessed in our area with many ways to serve others and this is a priceless gift to kids of all ages because it demonstrates who we truly are as a people.

Explore Nature: Have fun outdoors with the wonderful exploration of nature. Every yard has leaves, sticks and rocks, as well as other things. We have fabulous parks in our area, as well as beautiful lakes, rivers and bayous. Create a scavenger hunt for common things and let the kids have a blast exploring. For older adults and small children, you can do it hide and seek style inside the home by finding nature items and bringing them in, hiding them and allowing them to find them. Pick up pinecones, soak them overnight in water with Epsom Salt and red food coloring. Allow them to dry. They will become beautiful red pinecones you can decorate with or put on your firepit. You can also use them in your fireplace as a sparkler!

Have Fun with Food: Traditional food may be too expensive or out of stock for many so consider being creative with your holiday foods. Get a stick of butter and cut it into quarters. Allow kids to carve their butter into a holiday sculpture for decor. Or if butter is too precious, have them use a bar of soap and carve the nativity characters using a spoon. For unusual fun, you could dehydrate some food in the oven or over an open fire outdoors to demonstrate common practices for our ancestors in preserving food. You can create an unusual spread. One year, I did Grinch food. I simply colored a picture and stuck it to a popsicle stick and made common foods into fun foods. For example, I made a roast and called it Roast Beast and I called a mound of potatoes Grinch Hill. My family still recalls that Christmas as a huge hit! A few more that I did were: Who Hash (hashbrown casserole), Grinchy GreenBeans, Schlott’s Knots (rolls), Diffendoofers (green deviled eggs with avocado instead of mayo) Crunchy Chicken Lickins, Beezlenut Splash (lime punch), Cindy Lu Who Salad, Grinch Fruit Kabobs (strawberry hat with banana slices and green grape for face arranged as a kabob on a toothpick)and Dirty Puddle Pudding (chocolate pudding). The point is just to have fun planning a themed menu or just use creative names for common foods to turn it festive.

Story Time: Take time to sit around the fire or living area talking and listening. Make some questions up in advance and have each person draw a question and talk about it or play would you rather. This boosts the auditory processing skills which are critical in listening and reading! It also connects the heart and mind causing big growth in the brain and social skills.

Reduce Anxiety: Practice “could be worse” scenarios when things feel out of control or by counting the blessings of what is in front of you. Get a simple jar and give everyone a piece of paper to write one thing they are thankful for, put it in a jar and read it aloud to all. This attitude of gratitude is especially great for mindset!

Dress Up: Use what you already have and allow kids/others to play in your closet to come up with creative styles and have a fashion show. Be silly and enjoy the moments.

Read: It is fun to read the Christmas Story or the History of Christmas aloud. By doing this, your kids learn the patterns of reading and how readers read. Take turns reading by volunteers so that each person contributes. You can even print out or write out sayings, thoughts or scriptures to be read aloud.

The point is that the holidays are truly not about the perfect gift nor the perfect decor, food, games, etc. It is about making memories that last a lifetime. Remember the true reason for the season. That an amazing God chose to send His Son as a tiny baby to the lowliest of all to show His incredible love for us.

May you have the merriest of all Christmases!