By: Vickie Munsi www.vickiemusni.com
There are so many fantastic “before Christmas” traditions, but I seldom hear about many “after Christmas” traditions. I wanted to share 3 post-Christmas activities that I remember from my growing up years and things that we try to incorporate in our family.
1. Christmas Card Prayers - Around New Year’s we would begin doing Christmas Card Prayers after dinner. My mom would pass around the basket of Christmas cards and each of us kids would get to choose one. We would read the card/letter, talk about any pictures or photos, and then my mom would tell us about who it was from. She would share how they knew that person, where they lived, and any other interesting facts. We would then say a prayer for each person or family whose card we read that evening. Sometimes it would take us until Easter to get through the basket but I always enjoyed doing it. I think this tradition may be why the Christmas cards we receive today are so special to me.
2. Share Piles – I grew up with three brothers and now have 4 kids of my own. Several years ago we started being more intentional about “sharing” old toys to make room for the new ones. We talk with the kids about the new toys they received and what a blessing it is to have new things and then we remind them that not everyone has as many toys as they do. We discuss the importance of sharing and then help them select toys to “share” with a local charity. Our goal is to select something similar in size/value for each gift that they received. It doesn’t always work out exactly that way, but the exercise of sharing their toys is a healthy one.
3. Saying Thanks - I’m so grateful that my parents emphasized the importance of saying a proper thank you to people. Christmas time is one of the easiest times to practice this lesson because most kids have at least another week before they go back to school! I started having my kids “do” their own thank you notes when they were two years old. A simple way is type a short message in a bubble font and let the kids color it. You can also let toddlers or preschoolers color on a blank piece of paper (folded to make a card) and attach of photo of the child opening their gift or playing with the new toy. With older preschoolers, I often let them decorate the front of the card with stickers or pre-cut fun foam shapes, write a short message of thanks inside and let the child sign his or her name. By around age 5 or 6 kids can use those “fill-in-the-blank” cards that you can purchase from many stationery stores. Middle elementary age (and up!) should be able to
come up with at least 2 good sentences for a thank you letter. Watch for sales on cute Christmas stationery that often goes on sale with the Christmas cards! Just a word of caution – keep in mind your child’s personality and attention span and don’t expect them to write too many thank you’s in one sitting!
God bless you this new year as you begin some new After Christmas Traditions!