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Creating Lasting Holiday Memories

By Tracey Dowdy

Long after the gifts are opened, your tummy has settled after too many treats, and your head has cleared from drinking all that holiday cheer, your memories of the Holidays are what remain.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukah, or the Winter Solstice, this is the perfect time of the year to connect with friends and family and create those special moments.

Make a craft

Thirty seconds on Pinterest will show you more craft projects than you could begin to imagine. Some are as simple as a wreath made of candy canes and some scotch tape or jewelry made from a strand of cotton, to complex gingerbread houses and Martha Stewart’s tips on how to antique glass ornaments. The possibilities are endless. Just stay away from glitter. As we all know, glitter is the herpes of the craft world!

Count your blessings

As you sit around the kitchen table or on the floor around the fire playing games, take the time to have everyone share at least one thing for which they’re grateful. Share a favorite memory of the past year, a funny story, a time you were proud of yourself or others, something that has meaning to you.

My family has a jar that we fill throughout the year with slips of paper and on New Year’s Day we go through the jar and take turns reading them aloud. Some notes are big things like “Paid off a credit card!” and other times it’s something as small as “Had a good hair day!” The point is to remember how much good is in our lives. At this time of year, it’s very easy to get caught up in the spirit of receiving instead of giving so be intentional. Thanksgiving isn’t the only time to be thankful.

Go outside and play

Remember when we were kids and we’d play outside for hours? I grew up on the east coast of Canada, so if we didn’t learn to bundle up and enjoy the cold we’d have been hermits from October to April.

Whether you’re applying sunscreen to avoid the California sun or stuffed into a snowsuit like Randy in A Christmas Story, there’s something very therapeutic about stepping outside and simply playing. Build a snowman or a sandcastle, have a snowball fight or play red rover, build a snow fort or a tree house. It’ll clear your head, relieve some tension and lift your spirits.

Volunteer in your community

Speaking of getting out of the house, take the time to find a local charity or shelter and volunteer your time or talents. In a season of busy-ness and consumerism, remember this can be a very sad and lonely time for a lot of people. Not everyone has family and friends to connect with over the Holidays, so take your merry band of misfits and volunteer at a soup kitchen, go caroling at a nursing home, or volunteer at a local hospital or shelter.

The key is to remember that what you choose doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. In fact it’s often the simple things, the unexpected that turn moments into treasured memories.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, Ontario. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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