Sunday, December 15, 2013

Parenting Tip - Pass on Your Heritage and Traditions

Everyone comes from somewhere. 

Duh, that was an intelligent sentence.  What I meant was, that if you trace your roots back far enough, you will find that you come from some country other than the United States.  It's fun to find out where that is.  For some families, it may be several countries, but no matter where your ancestors come from, it's often enlightening to see just where that is.

My mother's ancestors came from Sweden.  My mother is 100% Swedish and I am half.  My children are one quarter Swedish and my grandchildren are 1/8.  It is so heartwarming to see my grandchildren embrace their Swedish heritage as their parents pass on the traditions that they enjoyed as children.

Yesterday, December 13 was St. Lucia's Day.  This is celebrated in Sweden as the day when darkness will begin to recede and light will gradually stay more during the day.  It also commemorates a young girl, Santa Lucia, who brought food to the poor.  It is traditional to observe St Lucia's Day by dressing the oldest daughter in the family in a white dress, tied with a crimson sash. Candles are set into her crown, which is covered with lingonberry leaves.  She then wakens her family in the morning, bringing them rolls and a warm drink.

My aunt and her daughter would waken my family in this manner on St Lucia's Day when I was a child.  When I grew up, I dressed my eldest daughter, Faith, in the traditional white dress, sash and crown and we went around town waking up my family members and Swedish friends.  She was 3 when we started this tradition and carried it on until she was in junior high, then passed it on to her younger sister who passed it on to my last daughter.  This year, that daughter, (married -but with no children yet) made rolls and shared the tradition with her friends at work.

My eldest daughter-who just had a baby-shares this tradition with her children in their school classes.  Each year her 2 daughters dress in their white dresses and crowns and tell the history of St Lucia to their classmates.  Her son doesn't dress up, of course, but loves to share the day with his class also.

I got to go with my grandchildren to their school classes this year and share our tradition.  Their teachers were so welcoming and enthusiastic.  My daughter even has the students make their own paper crown headband, then they parade around the classroom while the music, Santa Lucia, is playing.  Each of the teachers get a plate of St. Lucia rolls and the students get a candy cane.

What traditions do you continue to use that have been passed down from your ancestors?

What traditions do you begin, that your borrow from something or someplace meaningful to you?

One of my sons served a two year  mission for our Church to Germany.  Presently he is writing his doctorate dissertation in a field of research having to do with Germany, and he has returned several times to Germany for research.   His family is connected to Germany on different levels.  Recently they began a German tradition of ...well, I can't remember.  Ammon, please comment and tell us about your German Christmas tradition.

Merry Christmas,
thanks for reading,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yes, Virginia, You Can Have a Guiltfree Christmas

My grandchildren think I'm old. I don't think I am.  But still, when I look in the mirror, I'm seeing sagging cheeks and wrinkles on my neck and hands, which I prefer to think of as "wisdom lines".  I remember when I turned 40 that I decided if I was going to be THAT old, then I should start using the wisdom I had gleaned throughout those years so that the next 40 years could be a little less stressful and more enjoyable.

Which takes me to Christmas.  I've seen lots of Christmases--as a child, teenager, young adult, young mother, middle aged mother and now, as a grandmother.  I've felt a lot of guilt during those Christmases about things I didn't do and wish I had, or things I did do and wish I hadn't. But I'm really, really tired of feeling guilty.  It's no fun. So with all the wisdom I have learned over the years, and all the hope I have for many more bright tomorrows and Christmases, here are some thoughts about having a....

Guilt-free Christmas!
1.  Enjoy other people's decorations - I'm in Pennsylvania in a winter wonderland of postcard beautiful snow (my daughter just had baby number 4--a girl).  The house two doors down is decorated with 36 wreaths hung outside in front of every window!  It is gorgeous.  Should we feel guilty that we don't have any wreaths hung up, let alone lights or a tree.  Nope!  We're enjoying their wreaths (and enjoying that we don't have to take down 36 wreaths and find a place to store them!)

As you drive around your neighborhood, don't feel guilty.  Enjoy the decorations, savor the lights--even the traffic lights.  I love to see the red and green traffic lights at night during December, they're so Christmas-y.

2.  Enjoy the humor.  I just received a text that said, "Here is a letter _______ wrote to Santa today:  Dear Santa, two of the kids in my class don't believe in u.  Can u please put coal in their stockings.  Their names r Sienna and Jake. (Names changed to protect the innocent, and so Santa can't find them!)

Find humor in the car as you drive (yeah, very dificult, I know).  As I've been driving grandchildren around this week (and getting lost every single time), I have noticed that in between the streets, there are these cute little side streets called alleys (they don't look like AZ alleys) and they all have the name of vegetables!  There is carrot alley, leek alley, tomato alley, artichoke alley.  I find it hilarious. 

3.  Enjoy the food.  You don't have to make all the holiday treats you read about on every blog you look at or from every person you talk to.  Just pick one treat you have time to make or that your family likes.  Then savor and enjoy eating it.  I have the hardest time eating slow.  But I'm going to try and saaavvvvvoorrrrr my food this season instead of gulping it down.   My goal is to drink hot chocolate and watch the falling snow, which I should stop typing and do right this minute!

 4. Enjoy your children and husband and family.  Listen to your children--look at their cute little faces.  Try to figure out what makes them tick.  My daughter said she finally realized that if one of her daughters didn't get to bed by a certain time, she would have a melt down every night. Her daughter just couldn't cope, be obedient or make any rational decisions if she was too tired.  Sidenote:  last night we were trying to get the kids in bed on time and my daughter was making silent gestures at me to remind me we needed to get so and so in bed on time.  My granddaughter noticed and said, "Mom, I don't do that anymore."

Love your husband and make memories.  Find out what his love language is: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time or physical touch.  Then be sure and tell him what YOURS is.

5.  Enjoy Christmas shopping.  If you're not done shopping, try shopping online this year.  Or try going first thing in the morning.  Make it fun:  hum or listen to Christmas music while you drive to the store, suck on a candy cane in the car,  feel grateful, grateful, grateful.  Above all: don't feel guilty because you kow of others who are done.

Those are my ideas.  If you have any other ideas on how to enjoy the Holiday Season, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading,




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