This time of year is very special.  The whole meaning of Christmas and the Lights of Hanukah have religious and spiritual significance and sometimes it’s easy to forget those meanings with the sparkling objects of the season,  the parties, the packages, the fancy clothes.  I even heard a new rap song for the holiday season (I say holiday season because this was NO  Christmas song, rapping about racking up gold chains, free rent and other ‘loot.’)  Make a conscious effort to show your kids the true meanings of these special HOLIDAYS in your family’s life, and these should not be lost in the shuffle of the hustle and bustle.  In the Orthodox Church, growing up, (and in other Christian denominations, as well), the season of Lent or Advent, prepares the heart and mind for Christmas  with scripture readings and for some, fasting by abstaining from eating meat and dairy products to strengthen one’s faith, by not focusing on the frivolities of life. This also happens in the weeks leading up to Easter, to help the faithful look at the lead up to the Holiday/Holy day, as a time of self examination, in preparation.

   During a family dinner time, start a discussion on the gifts that money than indure, like love, peace of mind, time spent with a grandparent, or any other special family member, an expression of love, such as a handwritten letter or card, a piece of artwork drawn or painted by them, a phone call or a video sent to someone dear, who lives far away.  

     Consider another dinner conversation about those you know who may be alone for the holidays, maybe neighbor who recently lost their spouse or someone who could use a little cheer this time of year when the nights are long and the days are gray, like a little plate of cookies or an invitation to dinner or dessert with good company.  Explain that for some families, this time of year may bring back memories of loved ones no longer here, or for someone who has run across hard times, it might NOT be the most wonderful time of the year.  

     Plan a night with limited technology to make your favorite cookies and listen to the music of the season.  Maybe you take just a few photos to record your fun evening or afternoon and if this isn’t already a tradition, maybe it’s one to start where.  A family in our previous neighborhood came caroling one night, grandparents, adult children and young grandchildren.  I’ll never forget our young children watching the family and one of them said, “I thought this only happened in the movies.”  The next Christmas, when our kids were a little older, I called up a neighbor who had kids the same age as ours and we planned a caroling night for those around us.  We finished up with cookies and hot chocolate by the fireplace. Those grandparents who came caroling with their grandchildren that night when my kiddos were little are no longer with us and now I am the grandparent, but all these years later, I remember the laughs and smiles on the family’s faces and how they inspired a little seasonal fun for us.  

     Don’t miss an opportunity to spend time together with those you love, good friends and Family, creating memories to last a life time.  You only have so many Christmas and Hanukah’s.  Don’t squander them.  Treasure each and every one and treat it as the jewel it is, appreciating the true meaning of the season and the opportunity to spend time with the most important people in your life.  That can cost very little, and the reward is priceless, making for numerous great days and valuable moments…Get going and plan them now, before it’s too late.  You’re special people are waiting for you to make it happen ❤️