Few days remain of the year 2022 and even less days remain before Christmas. Plan special activities throughout the month with family to make it a fabulous season. Try not to get caught up in the holiday rush, and instead, make it a memorable time with those you love. Include some of the zany holidays below this month with family members to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year and throw in a few silly ones of your own.
➤ Mitten Tree Day — Give thanks for warm clothing to celebrate the day and consider blessing others who might be in need of winter accessories to stay warm. Take a family field trip to the store to purchase some seasonal mittens to give away. Donate pairs of mittens to a church minister, school teacher, women’s shelter or some other place who might know of someone in need. Read some of the following books aloud together as a family to keep the festivities going: "If You Want to Knit Some Mittens" by Laura Purdie Salas; "The Mitten" by Jan Brett; "The Runaway Mitten" by Anne Margaret Lewis; "The Missing Mitten Mystery" by Steven Kellogg; "Three Little Kittens" by Paul Galdone' and "The Mitten Tree" by Candace Christiansen.
➤ Bacon Day — Work together in the kitchen as a family to prepare this side dish for a festive meal this month. Drain two cans of French-cut green beans and place in a baking dish. Slice one medium onion into rings and place evenly on top of beans. Cook eight strips of bacon; reserve the drippings. Crumble bacon and place evenly over beans. In a small saucepan, combine bacon drippings, 6 tablespoons of sugar and 6 tablespoons of vinegar. Heat just to boiling. Pour over green beans. Marinate several hours or overnight. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!
➤ Winter Solstice Day — On the shortest day of the year, celebrate with flashlights throughout the day. Turn off the lights in the den and make shadows on the wall. Lie on the floor with the lights off and perform a "flashlight ballet" by letting the lights dance across the ceiling while listening to seasonal music. Go for a walk after dark using flashlights to guide you. Play hide and seek inside the house with the rule that each person hides with a flashlight in hand and turned on. Create some unique family flashlight games of your own, too!
➤ Happy Birthday, Jesus — Celebrate the birth of the Savior with a craft completed together as a family. Let each person create a "manger" by painting their hand with brown paint. Press a handprint on white construction paper, with the fingers pointing down. When the handprint dries, dip a plastic fork into yellow paint and make tine prints in the palm to resemble straw or hay. While the yellow paint dries, trace around a quarter on tan-colored craft paper and cut out the circle. Glue the "head" in place on the bed of straw and use a thin marker to add facial features. Use a paintbrush and white paint to add the baby’s swaddling clothes. Sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and give thanks for his birth.
➤ National Play Outside Day — A self-explanatory festivity, this celebration should be exploited throughout the entire month of December. Find some way to get outside every day of the month, with games and hikes and picnics on a warm day and exercise on a chilly day and explorations in a new park and activity on a playground and more!
Give extra hugs during the holidays and make sure to keep what’s most important in the forefront of your mind. Give thanks to the One who created the reason for the season. And find ways each day to remind family members how much you love and treasure them. Until next year …
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica. She is the author of "Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime" and "365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories."