Try something new together this holiday break. Consider singing lessons so you can really be in harmony when you sing your Christmas carols this year. Take cooking lessons to learn about making Christmas foods that are traditional to your heritage — for example, Mexican tamales, German Lebkuchen or Italian panettone pudding.
Whether you go camping on the beach or rent a log cabin in the woods, challenge your family members (yourself included!) to take a vacation from technology. No cell phones, tablets or even — gasp! — television. Without the distractions of Facebook alerts and text messages, imagine all the time you'll have to actually spend together.
Kids (and sometimes adults) can get wrapped up in the commercialism of the holiday season, focusing on what they will get instead of the spirit of the season. Get perspective about the true spirit of the holidays — giving versus receiving — by volunteering with your kids at a local food bank or homeless shelter. If you have little ones that are too young to volunteer, find a Salvation Army Christmas Angel tree and let them choose a gift for a child their age who may not receive any other gifts this year. Helping those less fortunate will fill your family up with a joy that can't be bought at the store.
If you've been too busy with work, school and extracurricular activities during the school year to actually talk to your kids, now's the time. Instead of focusing on what to put in their lunch boxes, if they have finished their class projects or whether they have brushed their teeth before school, ask them what their favorite subject is, what they like to do most after class and who they like playing with on the playground.
It may seem a little awkward at first, but the more you take time to communicate with your kids about seemingly unimportant things, the easier it will be for them to come to you when big, important and sometimes scary issues arise in their lives.
Make cookies and hot cocoa, drive around and look at holiday lights, go caroling and thread popcorn on a string for an old-fashioned way to make your Christmas tree festive. Do any (or all!) of the cliché things that make the holidays so fun. Your tweens and teens may roll their eyes about the idea of going to the mall in matching sweaters for a family photo with Santa, but it will be a memory that you can all laugh about — together — later on in life.
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