Diane Sasser, Blanchard, Tobie M. | 12/7/2006 4:45:12 AM
When families gather for the holidays, gifts are exchanged and relationships are renewed. Gifts don’t have to come in packages. They can be delivered through words and actions.
"One of the greatest gifts during the holiday season that grandparents or older family memories can share with their families is the gift of family memories," said LSU AgCenter family life professor Dr. Diane Sasser. This year she encourages families to use the holiday season as an opportunity to discuss traditions your family has enjoyed.
"Families build strength when they share family customs," Sasser said. "Traditions give family members a sense of belonging, and they strengthen values and beliefs."
When children and teens participate in family activities, it helps them see the importance of family, Sasser explained. Traditions don’t have to be costly or grandiose. They can be as simple as baking holiday cookies with Grandma or caroling with family.
"If you can’t think of any family traditions, try to recall happy times with your own grandparents and share those with your children or grandchildren," Sasser suggested.
Families can start new traditions. "Ask your children or grandchildren what activities they would like repeated each holiday season," said Sasser. "These activities should have special meaning and reinforce memories of your family."
The specialist offers ideas for simple family activities that could become your own holiday traditions:
– Holiday baking: Make cookies or quick breads to eat together and share with others.
– Share with others: Visit neighbors, friends or shut-ins.
– Prepare a special recipe that has been handed down through the generations for holiday meals. Let the children help.
– Holiday movies or books: Set aside a time to watch holiday TV specials together or rent holiday movies to watch together. Read special holiday poems or books. Look for stories that have meaning for your family.
– Give to others: Shop for gifts or food for a needy family.
Sasser emphasizes that the greatest gift is the gift of family. "Family ties can be strengthened through traditions. The important thing is to do activities together as a family to build memories," she said.