It's hard to think about New Year's celebrations when the temperatures are in the 80s, but regardless of the weather, the calendar has indeed flipped over to a brand new year, bringing dreams, goals, resolutions and the promise of
365 days of family fun and memory-making. Forget the overused and cliché idea of losing a pound or two or saving a few bucks this year and instead plan now to make the most of every moment of 2016 with the most important people in the world: your family. Make every day a holiday this month and each one to follow with fun and silly celebrations like the following suggestions, or make up some of your own.
National Soup Month - If the weather actually gets cold enough to enjoy a warm and tasty pot of soup, stir up a recipe of Tomato Basil Soup for the family to slurp on a cool evening. Start with three 29-ounce cans of tomato sauce and 4 cups of chicken broth in a large soup pot. Add 3 tablespoons of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, 1/2 cup of minced white onion, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
Heat until bubbly, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. Just before serving, stir in 3/4 cup of heavy cream and warm. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese and croutons, if desired.
National Ski Week - Of course, the perfect way to celebrate this holiday is by taking a family vacation to a ski lodge, but if that's not possible, try your hand at making paper snowflakes to hang around the house.
Purchase a package of paper doilies from the store and give one to each person, along with a pair of scissors. Fold the doily in half three times so that the end result resembles a slice of pie. Using the scissors, snip designs in the snowflake along the folded edges of both sides. Carefully unfold the paper doily to view your one-of-a-kind snowflake. Use fishing line to hang the snowflakes after carefully pressing them flat with your hand.
National Hat Day - In keeping with this month's theme, don a hat or stocking cap on a really cold day and go for a winter walk. Search for signs of winter, like trees without leaves, squirrels burying acorns or geese flying overhead. Choose several cold days this month to take a trek along the Mill Creek Park walking path or the Willie McTell Trail downtown, wander around Georgia Southern University's campus, or stroll along the sidewalks downtown. End your walk with a cup of hot chocolate purchased from a nearby coffee shop, or brew some of your own at home with a pan of warm milk and a chocolate package.
While sipping on hot cocoa, read aloud a couple of chapters of a winter-themed children's book, like the Newbery Honor book "Mr. Popper's Penguins," and read a chapter each night until you finish the book.
Drinking Straw Day - Make a colorful craft using drinking straws and paint. Place small dots of several colors of washable paint on a large sheet of white construction paper. Then blow onto the paint blobs, using a straw to push the colors across the paper. Mix and blend the colors or keep them separate and blow abstract designs onto the paper. Be careful to only blow out of the straw, and keep the straws above the paint blobs when blowing. Also make sure to take a break from blowing so you don't get dizzy!
Let the picture lie flat to dry completely, then hang it inside the house to admire the beauty.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Find a copy of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech and read it together as a family. Talk about dreams and wishes your family has that would make the community or world a more loving, compassionate and kind-hearted place. How can you put some of those things into practice as a family or individual? Set weekly goals to accomplish for the month to show kindness to others in your circle of friends or acquaintances, choosing to be deliberately kind to those that may look or act differently than you.
May the year 2016 be a blessed and prosperous one for you and your family. Create and treasure moments spent together as a family, and you will indeed have riches beyond compare. Be thankful, kind and compassionate in the weeks and months ahead, and make every day a holiday with those you love. Happy New Year!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.