I’ve talked before about how much I love establishing new Christmas traditions with Matt that will hopefully become our future family’s permanent traditions. Each year, I know I can look forward to a special dinner and Christmas movie or game night on Christmas Eve eve, going to the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert (followed up by a trip to Leatherby’s where Matt proposed to me three years ago), and time spent together on the Monday nights leading up to Christmas reading picture books like ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas or The Christmas Orange.
For many years before getting married, I had become quite the Scrooge during Christmas—I found myself griping about everything from the consumerism to the overplayed Christmas songs, and I wondered if I would ever feel the “magic” of the holiday again.
Getting married and being able to celebrate with Matt though has reinvigorated the holiday for me–Matt’s like a little boy himself sometimes when it comes to holidays and presents, and I have such fun playing Santa and surprising him on Christmas morning.
In the current December issue of Good Housekeeping, there’s this awesome article called “The Root of All Things” that’s worth checking out. The article talks all about how sharing family stories and memories aloud builds resilience and confidence as well as boosts happiness.
A part I particularly liked:
“New research shows [family stories] can increase well-being, reduce anxiety and depression, reinforce feelings of closeness among family members, and build resilience for navigating life’s normal ups and downs. In fact, developing a strong family narrative may be the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family . . . It sums up what your family is about and what it means to be a member. ‘We’re about grit,’ for instance, or ‘We always stick together.’
“A family narrative is made up of all the stories that get passed on daily, weekly, and annually, from the distant past (Great-Aunt Millie starting a pie-baking business) to recent times (finding a $10 bill on the bus yesterday morning.) ‘Any time you talk about what it means to be a part of your family, you strengthen the whole,’ says [Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families]. And the key? ‘Talking about not just the good times, but the negative events as well–the broken leg, the lost job, the rain that ruined the perfectly planned outdoor wedding.’ Stories about something good coming from something bad are particularly therapeutic.”
Perhaps it’s because I’ve really gotten into family history research the past two years, but lately, I have found myself especially strengthened by shared family stories.
So, this weekend, in a burst of positive energy, I decided to resurrect a Christmas tradition from my own family’s past—making and decorating sugar cookies.
I still remember one particular Christmas when we went out as a family into the falling snow, taking plates of cookies around to people in the neighborhood who might be lonely or in need of cheer. We sang Christmas carols and joked along the way, and I’ll never forget for as long as I live the feeling I had that night—I probably was only about 9 or 10, but I truly felt like there was magic in the air that night.
It’s such a little thing, really—the act of baking a batch of cookie dough (half of which I ate–literally–before it ever made it into the oven) and decorating it, but you know what?
It began to feel a lot like Christmas.
(And even though I normally despise that song, I actually found myself humming along with it and making up my own lyrics to it as I blobbed some blue icing rather messily onto our slightly deformed cookies.)
Perhaps our cookie-making on Sunday night isn’t a memory that I’ll talk about forever, but it did serve to reinforce what our little family is all about—doing things together in love, and enjoying each day that we are given to the fullest (not to mention finding opportunities to sneak in some sugary goodness whenever possible!).
So with the upcoming holiday on Thursday, I think I’ll make sure and take some extra time to relive some past memories as we spend Thanksgiving with my family—
I encourage you to do the same 🙂