It’s not often that the Boro is treated to winter temps before the calendar boasts the official winter solstice. Recent mercury dips, however, brought out the fuzzy socks and poofy jackets long enough to make us southerners feel like snow decorations and Christmas trees were warranted.
Welcome the true spirit of Christmas beyond the foyer and into your heart this season with quality family time and kindness for all those around. Offer smiles and compassion to frenzied shoppers and exhausted store clerks. Allow the impatient driver in the next car the chance to squeeze in ahead of your car, because, after all, what difference will those 30 extra seconds really make?
Allow ample time for snacking on peppermint candy canes, gazing upon poinsettia plants in the store, sipping hot cocoa, admiring Christmas lights, and reading and re-reading the Christmas story in the book of Luke. Celebrate the season and enjoy some of the additional holidays below.
➤ International Mountain Day — Locate a copy of the children’s classic, "Heidi," and read some each night to explore the young character’s time spent in the Swiss Alps.
➤ Pear Month — Bake this recipe together for a festive holiday dessert. Melt one stick of butter in a baking dish. Stir together in another bowl 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, a dash of salt, and 2/3 cup of milk. Pour the batter over the butter, but do not stir. Layer 2 1/2 cups of pear pieces, cut into bite-sized pieces from peeled pears. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cinnamon candies over the top. You’ll find the miniature cinnamon candies in the baking section or the holiday candies. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
➤ Winter Solstice — Celebrate the shortest day of the year and the official start of winter with a project to bless someone in the community who needs warmth and an extra dose of love and comfort. Take the family to buy new gloves and fuzzy socks for everyone in the family. Buy double of everything — or more — and take the extras to a church’s clothes closet or donate to the local fostering organization or women’s shelter.
➤ Christmas — Work together to make this holiday wreath with just a few supplies. Fold the largest sheet of construction paper in half lengthwise. Use a ruler to draw a line across the unfolded long end, marking 1 1/2 inches away from the edge. This is the no-cut edge. Use the ruler again to draw strips from the fold to the no-cut line. Draw the parallel lines about 3/4 of an inch apart. Cut along the lines, beginning at the fold and stopping at the no-cut line you drew first. Open the paper carefully and press the fold slightly to flatten. Roll the paper the other way, opposite of the first fold, and bring the two un-cut lengths together. Use double-sided tape the secure the edges together such that you have a roll or tube. Next, join both ends of the roll or tube to form a wreath. Carefully staple the two ends together. Embellish the wreath by gluing on red, fuzzy pom poms in different places around the circle.
➤ Visit the Zoo — Take a trip to the zoo over the holidays, but if that’s not possible, journey on a virtual one by finding online zoo sites, like zooatlanta.org, or others. Look for pictures of zoo animals specifically that you might never have encountered in the wild or during a previous zoo trip. Then play a game of animal charades and act out various animals for family members to guess. Do you know what sound a ring-tailed lemur makes? You can listen to one online and then have a competition to see who can mimic the lemur most accurately!
Take time this month to spread joy and cheer and happiness wherever you go. Be friendly and not frazzled, kind and not crotchety. Make it a delightful month of memory-making and fun. Share the gift of time with those you love and make every day a holiday!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.