The winter season has come upon us, and sounds of joy and laughter ring throughout the town for all to hear. It’s Christmas, a time of giving and spending quality time with loved ones. The smell of Grandma's cookies fills the air, and children hang their stockings gossiping about what they hope Santa will bring for them. Hanging stockings and baking Christmas cookies are two common holiday festivities that many families participate in, along with these activities many families have their own traditions that awaken the spirit of Christmas.
One of the most common holiday traditions is taking a family trip to a Christmas tree farm and picking out the best Christmas tree. These tree’s come in all shapes and sizes and finding the right one can take a whole day, luckily many tree farms are stocked with delicious snacks, hot chocolate, and apple cider to keep you warm and cozy while you find the perfect pine. After a tree is chosen and the warm rich camphor scent that signifies Christmas fills the air, it's time to decorate! The family gathers together stringing lights and singing Christmas carols while gingerbread cookies bake in the oven to be enjoyed after the decorating is done, Christmas has officially begun!
Along with picking the perfect tree and decorating as a family, another common Christmas tradition is hosting a celebration on Christmas Eve. During this celebration, families come together and enjoy quality time with loved ones they may not see throughout the year, and celebrate with those who may not be able to attend the Christmas day festivities.
During this celebration families often enjoy sharing a delicious meal, while laughing and sharing stories with one another. After plates are cleared and bellies are stuffed, it's time to exchange gifts and spend the night looking back on old memories, and creating new ones that will be cherished for years to come.
While some families chose to hand out presents after dinner on Christmas Eve, others choose to exchange gifts during Christmas day celebrations. Many families have special gift-giving traditions. One of these traditions is that each family member opens one present on Christmas Eve, while the rest of the gifts are saved for Christmas day. In some families, children may get a special present like a new set of pajamas to wear that night, or a Christmas ornament of their very own to add to the tree.
Another gift-giving tradition that some families participate in is playing gift exchange games. One game families may play is called Secret Santa. In this game, prior to Christmas, each family member is instructed to purchase a gift for a family member in secret without telling anyone who their present is for. When it is time to hand out presents it is a fun surprise to learn who your secret Santa is and discover what gift you have been given. Another gift-exchanging game families may play is Pass the Present. During this game, a story is told where the worlds left and right are used frequently and when one is said players must pass the gift in that direction. At the end of the story, each person will have a present and opens their gift to reveal what's inside.
While some families have Christmas Eve parties and gift exchange traditions, others have unique ways of celebrating Christmas. Some families enjoy doing activities with each other to celebrate, but being a national holiday most businesses are closed. The cinema is one exception to this, each year several movies are released and begin playing in movie theaters on Christmas day. For some families, it is tradition to venture out to the cinema and gather together to watch the latest film in celebration of Christmas. Going to the theaters on Christmas is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy, without the hustle and bustle that comes with the typical moviegoer crowd. There are a few other unique Christmas traditions that families participate in such as going sledding, seeing a play, or, going caroling.
Along with Christmas festivities and gift-giving traditions, some families volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter on or before Christmas day. This holiday tradition brings families together to help those within their community and spread the spirit of Christmas to those in need. Volunteering to help others who are less fortunate than we are, encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas. The giving nature of Christmas began in the 3rd century when a man named St. Nicholas became known for visiting the homes of poor and sick children and gifting them with toys and treats. Today, the man we know as Santa Clause visits homes around the world with his sleigh filled with gifts and his eight trusty reindeer
Through St. Nicholas and even the smallest acts of kindness, the giving nature of Christmas still lives on. Through the holiday season, it is important that we show compassion for others, doing what we can to help those in need. While some families volunteer at soup kitchens or homeless shelters during the holidays, there are many other acts of kindness that you and your family can participate in and embrace the giving nature of Christmas. Some of these activities include donating unwanted clothing and toys, caroling at a nursing home, and, volunteering at an animal shelter.
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