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Celebrate big as the year closes out
Fun with the Family
Julie Lavender
Julie Lavender

How can it be early December already? The final month of 2021 blew in with a cool snap, but I hope you still have plans for lots of warm memories with the family for the next couple of weeks. Don’t get distracted with the busy-ness of the season and forego the opportunities for fun and adventure with those you love. Snatch little moments here and there to drink hot cocoa while listening to Christmas songs on repeat; to drive slowly through town, taking in the lights and decorations of the season; watch old, classic Christmas shorts or movies; count the poinsettias on display at church; watch a performance of "The Nutcracker;" decorate Christmas cookies together, and read the Nativity story over and over again. 

Create lasting memories with seasonal festivities and add these zany, but actual, celebrations to the family fun this month. 

➤ Don’t Make Your Bed Day — Skip making the bed today and pull off the sheets instead for some adventure. Line up table chairs near a couch and drape the bed coverings over the top of the furnishings, creating a fort for playtime. Place the blanket or comforter on the floor inside the covered area. Enjoy a snack inside the sheet-tent, read a book there, or look at photo albums together. Sing a favorite Christmas carol while snuggled inside the tent or make up a new holiday song!

➤ Look for An Evergreen Day — Enjoy an afternoon walk to look for evergreens. They’re slightly easier to spot with all of the surrounding hardwoods bare limbs and branches. Snap pictures on a cell phone of the evergreen trees and be sure to get close-up shots of the needles or leaves. Once you’re back at home, pull out an encyclopedia — some folks still use them — or pull up websites that describe evergreen trees and attempt to identify each tree you found. 

➤ National Flashlight Day — Get outside again with the family for another celebration. In honor of the shortest day of the year, go for an evening walk and give everyone new flashlights for the trek. 

➤ Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day — Make decorations for the tree or home with original, handmade snowflakes. Check out this site for simple instructions for making paper snowflakes: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/crafts-hobbies/how-to-make-paper-snowflakes. Look for other instructions online, too, and use different types of paper, like colored paper or cake doilies. Embellish some of the snowflakes by painting glue onto the paper and sprinkling on white glitter. Hang the snowflakes on the tree or in the den to make the season even more festive. Sit near the snowflake creations as you enjoy some of these holiday children’s books together: "Dachshund Through the Snow" by Michelle Medlock Adams, "What is Christmas?" by Michelle Medlock Adams, "Home for Christmas" by Jan Brett, "How to Catch a Snowman" by Adam Wallace, "M is for Manger" by Crystal Bowman and "Teri McKinley, God Bless Our Christmas" by Hanna Hall, "The Silent Noisy Night" by Jill Roman Lord and "That Grand Christmas Day" by Jill Roman Lord.

➤ Have a Bagel Day — Share a Saturday morning breakfast and nibble from a bagel buffet offering. Work together to create bits and bites for a bagel buffet. First, make a couple of bagel spreads to use to coat the bagels. Stir crushed fruit into softened cream cheese for one topping. Combine peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and miniature chocolate chips for another topping. Stir cinnamon, powdered sugar and cream cheese together for a third topping. Add minced garlic, Italian seasoning and basil to cream cheese for a final topping. Place any or all of these samplings into bowls and put on the buffet table: fruit pieces cut into small bits, raisins, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, miniature marshmallows, bacon bits, small bits of pepperoni, cooked and crumbled sausage, or any other favorites. Warm or toast miniature bagels, and then enjoy a Saturday morning buffet together. 

The year is coming to a close, with slightly more than two dozen days left. Make each day a memorable one with intentional moments of fun and togetherness as a family. Celebrate big and celebrate small this month, and give thanks for the little baby that changed the world with humble beginnings in a manger. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Local author and columnist Julie Lavender celebrates the birth of a new book, "Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime" (Penguin Random House) that launches in early January.

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