The last month of the year 2012 is upon us, with only a handful of shopping days left until Christmas. Use your time wisely to make quality memories this month, not crazy ones. Don’t let the frenzy of decorating, baking and shopping steal the joy of the season. Make time for friends and family, hot chocolate in front of the fire, carols and mistletoe kisses, and donations of goodwill to someone in need. Celebrate the season with your own special traditions, and sprinkle in a few of the wacky, but true, holidays below.
National Cookie Day: Spend a day baking your family’s favorite holiday cookies. Make enough to have extras. Then, with a tall glass of milk and a plate of cookies nearby, read a host of cookie books. Here are some favorites and a few new ones from which to choose: "Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Joffee Numeroff, "Gingerbread Baby" by Jan Brett and "The Doorbell Rang" by Pat Hutchins.
Share some of the cookies you made with extended family members, neighbors or someone who might enjoy a visit during the holiday season.
Winter: Build a fire in the fireplace, close your eyes, and pretend it’s snowing in the Boro. And, since the only way we’ll likely see snow in the South is in our imaginations, let the kids make a few snowflake decorations to celebrate the new season.
On a piece of white paper, have the kids draw a snowflake by making a large asterisk with four lines. Use a large marker to make thick lines for the asterisk, and add offset tic marks on each line, like veins on a leaf. Then, place the drawing of the snowflake under a sheet of waxed paper. With liquid glue, trace over the lines of marker, making sure to use a thick line of glue for each line of the snowflake. Sprinkle white or silver glitter on the wet glue.
Allow the glue to dry for two days, then carefully peel the snowflake off the paper. Attach fishing line or white yarn to one of the branches of the snowflake and hang it near a window. Then, watch for real snowflakes to appear outside. (Well, one can always wish!)
Pastry Day: Buy a box of refrigerated, ready-made pie crusts. Unroll one of the crusts onto a large baking sheet, and let the children cut away some of the dough with a plastic knife to make a Christmas tree dua. (Younger children simply can make a large triangle.)
From the extra dough, form a stem, and attach it by dabbing it with a small amount of water and pressing it into the tree-shape. With the remaining dough, form small balls and attach them with a dab of water to the tree as decorations.
Brush a small amount of melted butter or margarine on the dough. Carefully sprinkle green sugar sprinkles on the tree. Use other colors of sugar sprinkles on the decorations, and sprinkle chocolate jimmies or cinnamon sugar on the trunk.
Bake in a 450-degree oven for eight minutes or until golden brown. Nibble and enjoy!
National Haiku Poetry Day: Talk a walk on a crisp, cool day and observe the nature around you. Then, return to a warm house and compose a Haiku, a Japanese form of writing, usually about nature, with only three lines: The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven, and the last line has five. It’s challenging, but a lot of fun!
Christmas: Make this a holiday of giving. Drop coins in the Salvation Army’s bucket; share toys with a needy family; take fruit and crackers to residents of a local nursing home; rescue a homeless dog or cat and give it a new home; or donate new or gently used clothing to the women’s shelter. Most importantly, give a lot of special time to beloved family members, making warm holiday memories that will be treasured for a lifetime of winters.
By the time we meet again, it will be a brand new year! Celebrate and treasure the remaining days of 2012, and have a joyous and blessed holiday season.
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating swith children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.