A Nice, Normal Family?!

A Nice, Normal Family?!

Amid all the lights and decorations, good food and gifts, I think it goes without saying, that perhaps one of the main reasons we look forward to this Christmas time of year is the anticipation of getting together with family and loved ones!

Norman Rockwell Christmas!

Although they could be a bit hectic at times, I look back on past holiday seasons when I was growing up with fond memories.  That doesn’t mean there weren’t often reminders from my parents as I rough housed and teased that Santa was watching and checking who was naughty or nice!   Like my children are sure to recall, I remember with a bit of irony now, the determined look on my mother’s face whenever company came to visit that gave a wordless warning that I didn’t dare not heed; it’s a bit of sage advice that I’m certain has been shared over and over again in many family circles with equal parts sarcasm and sincerity!

A Nice, Normal Family!

“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we are a nice, normal family!”

Despite any idiosyncrasies and shortcomings, our families always seem to accept us best for who we really are…but could we do better at doing more for those we love the most?  It would seem that there is no better time than during the season that celebrates life, love and families, to try and do a few things that bring us all closer together!  Here are some traditions I’ve done with my own family over the years, as well as some activities I have heard of others doing that help them keep their family bonds strong, not only at Christmas time, but all year long!

  • Gather around the dinner table!

There’s just nothing like a great meal and lively conversation around the dinner table that helps pull a family together more!

Norman Rockwell's Christmas!

With our busy schedules now days, gathering around the dinner table seems much less likely than when I was growing up, but I found that having my kids help decide on the menu, as well as taking turns with meal preparation, made the possibility of getting together for dinner a more realistic goal.  We loved having breakfast for dinner too.  (You’ll find the recipe for Ebleskivers, one of our favorite meals here.)    

  • Celebrate the season!

A “bah, hum bug” attitude just doesn’t cut it if you want to keep family ties strong!  While it may require some creative coordination and a little extra planning, there is nothing quite like getting together with our families to celebrate age-old traditions, as well as trying a few new activities to build close family relationships!

Norman Rockwell Christmas!

From all the beautiful holiday decorations and tree ornaments, to the delicious smells of familiar recipes baking in the kitchen, we all have those cherished sentiments for family Christmas traditions.  (I have shared a few of my favorite traditions here.)  However, I think you’ll all agree that it is those people in our lives who love us unconditionally that truly make Christmas such a wonderful time of year, especially that person for which we celebrate this most blessed season!

  • Unite in thoughtful giving and selfless service! 

It goes without saying that giving thoughtful gifts, including selfless acts of service, proves to unite families in special ways that are sure to strengthen family bonds like little else seems to do.

Thoughtful Giving at Christmas!

A client of my husband’s collaborates with a charitable organization at Christmas time so his family can truly focus on giving to others by helping build homes or schools in foreign countries for those in need.  My sisters-in-law started a neat Christmas party years ago where we give a homemade gift to the person whose name we draw that year.  The time and energy spent on creating a thoughtful gift for anybody can’t help but result in forming special bonds with that person!    

Family Christmas Traditions: Giving Manger Gift Set

A new way to focus on service this Christmas season that I’m giving to some family members and friends is “The Giving Manger”  gift set.  These unique sets come with an endearing story book that explains the tradition of giving and hopes to inspire selfless acts of service that results in pieces of straw being placed in the little wooden manger throughout the month of December, ending with baby Jesus being placed in the in the manger on Christmas morning.  

  • Mostly…have fun and enjoy being together!

There is just nothing better than the anticipation of family, friends and loved ones returning home for the holidays!

Welcoming Christmas!

There’s no doubt about it, despite the eclectic dynamics, funny antics, and yes, even drama on occasion, it really is nice to have the people in our lives that make up our families–with no one else are we casually able to be ourselves!  (My mom would also add that being related doesn’t excuse us from not making an effort to put forth our best manners!) 

A Norman Rockwell Christmas!

For me, a quote from a favorite movie, Dan In Real Life, just might sum it up best…“There’s a certain rightness in our wrongness!”

I hope everyone has the best Christmas season and that you are lucky enough to be able to spend much of it with your family and loved ones!

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I won’t have a couple of my kids here for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean we still won’t enjoy great conversations and all the crazy, good things we love about each other!

What fun family traditions do you look forward to celebrating every year?  

–Mary

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