Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Family Traditions

                    Families grow stronger as they establish and share uplifting and strengthening traditions.  Families form traditions as they repeat the same activities over and over.  Uplifting traditions strengthen families spiritually.  They strengthen love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and unify families, communities, and nations. 

                    Many young couples establish uplifting traditions for their new family even before their wedding day when they discuss which family traditions they will each bring to their union.  Uplifting traditions include family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and attendance at church as a family.  Weekly date nights and regular visits to the temple are essential to maintaining that feeling of being an eternal couple.  New traditions are added to the treasury when children join the family.

                    I love traditions and particularly Christmas traditions.  For traditions in general,click here.  To read about some of my family Christmastraditions, click here.  Since this is the Christmas season, I want to share more ideas about Christmas traditions. 

                    One idea is to have traditions that tell the true meaning of Christmas.  In a previous article I shared some information about why Christmas colors are red and green and why the evergreen tree, star, bell, candle, gift bow, candy cane, and wreath are important items in Christmas traditions.  Teaching the reason why each item is part of Christmas can be included in other Christmas traditions.  Hanging the Christmas wreath and decorating the Christmas tree could include a lesson about why green is the second color of Christmas and why the evergreen tree is used for our Christmas trees.   A lesson about the tree, star, bell, etc. could be included while baking and decorating Christmas cookies.

                    Christmas traditions should always include the reading, telling or acting of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.  The first gift of Christmas was God's gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, to the world.  The second gift of Christmas is the life and mission of Jesus Christ.  God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to live as man in order to give all of us an opportunity  

                    It is never too early to introduce new traditions.  An article by Shay Castle in Babytalk (December/January 2012) suggested several traditions for infants and toddlers.  Even though a baby will never remember his/her first Christmas, parents can still introduce traditions to their child by "…literally, by indulging her senses:  touch, sight, smell, taste and sound."  Parents can give their child the "feel" of Christmas by touching their hand to snow or letting them crinkle Christmas wrapping paper.  A cute suggestion was to "dip baby's palms in non-toxic finger paints, and place them gently on poster board or cardstock, leaving two tiny prints.  Your baby will have tons of fun squishing her chubby fingers in the paints. After her masterpiece dries, cut it out, date it and display on your tree or mantle."  You can "build the tradition" each year by making "the handprint project a part of your holiday tradition.  As your collection grows, string them together to form a garland.  Your child will get a kick out of seeing this annual reminder of how he's grown and remembering holidays past."   In families with several children, the individual garlands could be draped in the appropriate child's room rather than on the tree. 

                    Other ideas for helping your baby to "learn about his environment through his senses" were also given.  Introduce your child to the smell of an evergreen tree, warm Christmas cookies, and spiced cider.  The sense of smell is very strong and lasting; connecting wonderful smells with special times and people will be very powerful in your child's life.  The sense of smell can also be used by bringing your toddler into the kitchen and letting him/her help bake the cookies or other Christmas treats.

                    I learned about another fun tradition from my son's family.  A special delivery package arrived on the front steps on the first day of December, and inside the package was a special elf.  The elf is to watch the children and report to Santa whether they have been good or bad.  The elf hides in a different place each day, and part of the fun includes finding his daily hiding place.

                    I introduced a tradition to our family by accident one year when I found a small, soft-bodied Santa Claus and added him to our decorations.  Santa is now getting old and faded, but he can still be found under the tree, beside the manger, inside the basket of Christmas story books, etc.  I didn't realize that he was a tradition until I heard my youngest son explain to his wife about why this Santa Claus is a part of our Christmas.

                    Parents must be careful when they introduce new traditions.  They must understand that traditions become a part of the very fiber of the family so they must be sure that the tradition is uplifting and something they want to continue.  Sharing traditions unifies and strengthens family members because they are a bond that welds family members together.  Uplifting family traditions always lead the family to Jesus Christ.

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