Of all the blessings of the holiday season, one of the greatest is the gift of making family memories and revisiting cherished traditions. The key to making family memories is to make them; don’t just wait for them to happen. Here are a few tips for making memories during the holiday season—and all year long.
PLAN FAMILY TIME
If you don’t plan for quality family time, it won’t happen. Even during the holiday season when, traditionally, spending time with family is central, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of events that you miss making family memories.
This year, our family has a new addition included in our memory-making! Camden Matthew, our first grandson, was born October 29, and we’re all looking forward to celebrating his first Christmas with him. Before we know it, however, Camden will be grown. I don’t want to look back twenty years from now and wish I had spent more time with him. I want to look back with a heart full of cherished memories of the relationship we built by spending time together.
I read a survey that asked this question: “What makes your family great?” Among all the different answers, the most common was “the time we spend together.” Ladies often complain to me that they don’t have enough family time. My answer to them is that there is only one guarantee to having family time: schedule it.
Planned family time doesn’t have to be expensive. Over the years, our best family nights have primarily been in our own home. With a little imagination and not much expense, these special nights can provide great fun and cherished memories for years to come.
Family traditions have been very helpful in creating family memories at the Chappell home. These fun times create a sense of unity and belonging, and they bring the family together in a unique way.
We have a lot of traditions. Some are deep rooted and enduring. For example, we always read Luke 2 on Christmas morning before we open presents. Another example is our traditional stop at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Flagstaff, Arizona, whenever we are returning from the family farm in Colorado. For years, my husband drove our kids to school in the mornings, and they had a little tradition in the car. They all tried to be the first person to say, “It sure is a beautiful day!” Then they usually ended up singing some silly song along the way. I think the song made them glad that we only live a mile away, but it was tradition nonetheless.
Some traditions have a shorter life span. For a long time we had hamburgers every Saturday night. But, eventually that got old, and we switched the menu. Some traditions flop right out of the gate and quickly become non-traditions—like when we slept out in our backyard in a tent. Don’t be afraid to try something adventurous as a family, even if the final consensus is “let’s not make that a tradition!”
KEEP A RIGHT SPIRIT DURING INTERRUPTIONS
Interruptions are an inevitable aspect of life. Unfortunately, sometimes an emergency will arise, and a planned memory-making time has to be rescheduled. Don’t let this rob your joy or dampen your spirit. Mom, keep in mind that if a crisis takes place and you have to reschedule family time, the kids will be watching your reaction. Their ability to be flexible with the interruption will largely depend on how they perceive your reaction.
Several years ago, we had a big family vacation planned. Two days before we left, a dear senior saint in our church passed away, and my husband had promised her months before that he would do her memorial service. Our bags were packed, our tickets were ready, and we had a dilemma.
My husband and I decided that the kids and I would travel ahead of him, and he would fly to join us the next day. As you can imagine, this was a very difficult decision for both of us, but rather than grumble or complain, I resolved to make this experience fun and adventurous. Time and space do not permit me to share the incredible and absolutely comical chain of events that unfolded between the time we were dropped off at the airport and the time my husband joined us the next day. Every time we remember that vacation, the kids and I can’t stop laughing about it.
It all turned out just fine, and we had another set of great memories to cherish. It would have been so easy to have whined, pitched a fit, and said some pretty negative (but true) remarks. And the result of our displeasure would have been six miserable people and bad memories! I had a magnet once that said, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Remember that the next time the unexpected happens. Keep your spirit right and your heart sweet, and watch to see how God will intervene on your behalf.
MAKE MEMORIES BY TALKING
One of our favorite places to talk is at the dinner table. We have always tried to make dinner time a happy time, not a time to discuss detentions or negative things. My husband eats pretty fast and typically finishes his meal before the rest of us are even half through. So he usually begins the conversation by saying, “Let’s tell a….” He ends the statement with “favorite dinner,” “best vacation,” “most embarrassing moment,” and so on. Each person at the table takes a turn sharing answers. We laugh. We cry. We savor the memories. We love it!
PRESERVE MEMORIES WITH PICTURES
Photograph and video your family times. Preserve your memories in scrapbooks and photo albums. Look at them often. Some of our best family nights take place when we pull out old family photos or videos and simply spend the night reminiscing!
Making family memories is a way to draw the hearts of your family together and to the Lord. These memories will fill your heart and your children’s hearts for years to come. Make their experiences at home positive and worth remembering. Nurture their hearts toward the Lord and His will by planning and providing time to laugh and play together.