Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 19, 2005, Herald Journal

The holidays are here


Happy holidays from my house to yours.

Here are some wonderful holiday activities your family can partake in, and that my family will participate in together this year, as well – because, after all, the holidays are about family, fun, giving, memories, and most importantly, the very first Christmas and a Child’s birth!

A fun way to open up gifts

Open up gifts by turn, in a lottery style as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is read. This idea was given by S. L. Amon, who suggests choosing key words from the story, such as nap, stockings, Christmas, St. Nicholas, etc.

Select as many different words as the number of presents there are to unwrap. Write each of the words on folded slips of paper (and/or draw pictures representing the words for nonreaders to identify) and put them into a Santa hat or some other festive holder.

Hand out all of the gifts to the proper recipients, telling them not to open their presents. Allow each participant to draw enough words/pictures from the Santa hat to equal the number of presents in front of them, having them put one word on top of each present.

The participants will then listen as the story is being read, and when they hear the word that is written on one of their slips of paper, have them call out “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!”

Stop the story long enough for the person to open the gift that has the matching word on top of it, and then continue the story, repeating this process until all of the presents have been unwrapped. (Have a bag available for the discarded wrapping paper to be placed into as soon as each gift is opened.)

I am going to try this activity this year with a family Christmas celebration at our home.

Stress tip for the holidays

If you notice your child or yourself beginning to get stressed during holiday preparations, try to spend some quiet time with them (or yourself) before the situation gets out of control. Stop for a snack, a game or a few minutes of reading. This tip is from www.ehow.com

Remember what the holidays are truly about, and don’t get too caught up in the hype and preparations, but enjoy the holiday for what really defines it: love, laughter, happiness, and hope.

The greatest gift to a child is time spent with them.

Healthy holiday breakfast

With the holiday season here, there are plenty of sugary goodies to indulge in, so here’s a healthy breakfast idea for our children and us to keep us indulging in some healthy foods, as well.

Create a breakfast parfait with layers of cereals, such as Kix, Cheerios, Chex, Life (or whatever are your family’s favorites) and fruit, such as blueberries and sliced up strawberries. Add milk, if you and your children like.

You could also create a parfait by alternating layers of cut-up waffle pieces and banana slices, and drizzle on some syrup. This fantastic idea is from Parents magazine, September, 2005.

Create some simple gifts

It is most certainly good for all people of all ages to get in the giving spirit, and that does not have to equate into spending a lot of money. It’s also great for teenagers to get involved in this “giving spirit,” as it has great benefits for the giver as well, boosting esteem and self-worth.

Make some homemade gifts for some little children, such as bath time stick-‘ems. Using plastic placemats that have a slightly spongy feel, trace shapes, such as sailboats, people, circles, squares, stars, and hearts, on the placemats and cut them out. Cookie cutters work well for tracing shapes.

You could also cut the plastic into letter and number shapes, using stencils, cookie cutters, or freehand. Older children and teens could use their talents to do this. (Remember, for younger children, they could do the tracing and you or older children could do the cutting). This idea is from the Parents Play and Learn, 2000.

The plastic foam shapes will stick to the sides of the bath tub or the bathroom wall when wet.

Place the cut-out shapes in a plastic baggie or some other container. Write some instructions on a piece of paper, such as, “Use these stick-‘ems in the bathtub to form pictures, and then, tell a story about your creation. Just wet and stick, and use your imagination to create pictures and stories with the shapes! Have fun and happy holidays!”

You’ve just created some simple, inexpensive, and fun gifts for some little boy(s) and/or girl(s).

Peace on earth

On Christmas Eve during World War I, German soldiers began singing “Silent Night.” Soon, others along the German line joined in. The British soldiers, recognizing the melody, joined them in the singing of this most beautiful song.

Soldiers from both sides left their trenches and met in the middle. Some of them even exchanged gifts. An undeclared truce began, and fighting was halted for the night in honor of Christmas. There was “peace on earth” for that one night in history.

* * *

“Vesele Vanoce.” Merry Christmas in Bohemian.