Family Traditions- Don’t forget the books!

-posted by Meghan

For me, the best thing about the holiday season is all the family traditions that occur.  Some are passed from generation to generation, and some are ones that you may be starting for the first or second year in a row with your own little family.  It’s such a wonderful sense of belonging and connectedness and an amazing way to feel the ties that wind through our families across  time and age.  And for kids, who thrive on routine and repetition, it gives them a feeling that all must be well, if it’s the time to do that special thing again.

In our family, books play a large part of the Christmas tradition.  These are pretty obvious books to be reading at holiday time, but if books aren’t part of your holiday tradition yet, it might give you some ideas.  And if they are, let me know what books you dust off every year and how you celebrate your winter hlidays- I’m always looking for new traditions to start with my kids.

Yes, the biggest “Duh” ever- who doesn’t read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas at Christmas time?  But we do have a tradition of reading this special (to us) edition that was a gift from Grandma on Christmas Eve with the kids in their special new Christmas Eve jammies, and munching on the extra cookies from the plate we’ve just set out for Santa.  Yes, this is just their third Christmas and I’m not sure how much they remember of this, but I’m already looking forward to continuing this every year, and building on the ritual.  I’m thinking next year they’ll be old enough for hot chocolate and marshmallows with the cookies…

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Another obvious one is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  We read this book often, starting after Thanksgiving, but one night in the week before Christmas we read the book and then watch the animated short movie.  Well, last year we made it through about 10 minutes of it.  This year we might shoot for 15.  But one of these years, they’ll be the ones reading it to me, and then we’ll watch the whole thing!

We have a new tradition for our family this year- well, I hope it will turn into a tradition!  My favorite author is Madeleine L’Engle, and she wrote a small Austin family book called The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas.  It’s about the year that the youngest Austin was born, and Vicky’s fear that Mother might miss Christmas.  We’ve been reading a chapter a night (the short chapters are just right for my almost 3 year-olds), and a wonderful side benefit is that as Vicky tells of each of the 24 special things their family does leading up to Christmas, it gives me new ideas for new traditions for my family.  I’m looking forward to them getting a little older, and adding in some readings from L’Engle’s The Miracle on Tenth Street and Other Christmas Writings.  You could introduce your children to your favorite author in a special way by making reading aloud from one of their books a holiday tradition in your family!

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Other great holiday read-alouds include:

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera

Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

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