It is so hard to believe another year is almost history. There are just a few days left to decorate, shop, wrap, bake, visit, light candles and sing carols. Remember to keep the holiday frenzy in check, being mindful of what’s really important during the Christmas season. Make the most of every day this month with family traditions, and try celebrating a few of the following holidays.
Love Your Neighbor Month — Find special ways all month long to treat a neighbor. From homemade cookies or bread to an afternoon visit, spread Christmas cheer right in your own neighborhood. There’s a whopping selection of children’s books about neighbors and neighborhoods. Check out some from the library to read over the holidays.
Lipstick Week — Give each person in the family an old tube of lipstick to write sweet messages on bathroom mirrors. Don’t worry; it removes easily with window cleaner and paper towels.
National Pie Day — Spend an afternoon together making homemade pie crusts to store in the freezer, then pull out one crust per week this month and try a new pie recipe. For each crust, you’ll need a disposable pie tin, 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/3 cup of shortening and 4 tablespoons of cold water.
In a plastic bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Drop the shortening into the mix, and use your hands to cover it with flour. Then, squish the shortening and flour together over and over, like playing in dough, to make fine crumbles.
Push the dough crumbles to one side of the bowl and pour cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, onto a small amount of dough. Gently toss that amount of flour and water together, then push the moistened bit of flour to the side. Continue this process with the remaining 3 tablespoons of water, moistening all of the dough.
Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough, rolling from the center to the edge, until the circle is slightly larger than the diameter of the pie tin. Very carefully fold the dough in half to help lift it into the pie tin without tearing. Unfold, and trim the edges to just beyond the edge of the tin. Fold the extended dough under, making the edge slightly thicker, and use the tines of a fork or your fingers to make a decorative or scalloped edge on the crust. Wrap the entire crust and tin in plastic wrap and place it in a resealable freezer bag. Store in the freezer until ready for use.
Bingo Birthday Month — When is the last time your family played a game of bingo? Find the game in the store, or create one of your own. On cardstock, draw a bingo grid. Come up with a cute five-letter name for your game, like “HEART,” to represent beloved family members. For that game, place a heart sticker on the free space in the middle. In each space, write the name of a family member, or glue on printed headshots of family members. Then, play a rousing game of bingo, using buttons or dried beans for markers.
Christmas — Fashion a handprint Christmas tree as you count down the days until Christmas. Paint a long strip of freezer paper with green paint, or use finger paints and really get messy! When the paint dries completely, let each person trace their handprints several times until there are 21 handprints. Cut out the prints and store in an envelope. Also on the freezer paper, paint a brown spot large enough for two handprints and a yellow spot for one print. Cut out two brown handprints to make the tree trunk and the yellow print for the star.
To make the countdown tree, glue one handprint on the poster each day until Christmas Eve, beginning with one brown trunk piece at the bottom, fingers pointing up, on Dec. 1 and another brown trunk piece next to it on Dec. 2. Above the trunk, glue on one handprint each day, fingers pointing down, applying glue near the wrist area of the print. Make a row of six handprints, then five, four, three, two and one at the top. On Dec. 24, glue on the yellow star at the top, fingers pointing up.
Have a very blessed and meaningful month of December with those you love. Make memories and merriment, and share smooches under the mistletoe. Until next year!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.