Hopefully, you will be having a joyful and peaceful gathering with your family during the holidays.
If you may be having difficulty getting the family together for the holidays because of the not uncommon family friction and you feel stressed out, consider two of the e-books I have available for free, How to take the Stress out of Christmas (or other holiday celebration) and Overcoming Seasonal Anxiety.
Regardless if your celebration is simply perfect or slightly tenseful, one suggestion is to have each person in your family say something about their favorite Christmas/Hanukkah/ New Year/Holiday experience? Better yet, why not consider having them write their stories before the special day of gathering. On that day, collect and place all the stories in a basket and have another family member read another one's story. For added fun, at the end of each story, have the family guess whose story was just told. Some may be obvious. Others may not. Additionally, these written stories could become a start of a Living Legacy, i.e. a collection of family stories put together for one's children and future descendants. Knowing where one comes from helps emmensely to overcome life's challenges.
My favorite Christmas happened in 9th grade when I learned the true meaning of Christmas. You see, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve and not Christmas morning. Several years later, long after I grew up, I learned that this was a Sicilian tradition.
Prior to 9th grade, I was very fortunate. When all the other children had to go to bed early so that Santa came for his visit while they were asleep, I actually saw Santa on Christmas Eve. We didn't have a fireplace so Santa came in from the front door. For some reason, Uncle Tom was always absent and he never saw Santa.
I also realized, after I was a parent and followed the traditional Christmas morning ritual, the Christmas Eve celebration provided needed sleep for my parents. Traditionally, parents would stay up on Christmas Eve until the kids were asleep, then they would wrap the gifts and place then around the tree. They would also have to set out some cookies and milk for Santa. After setting up the room, the parents would eventually get to bed late, only to be waken early in the morning by the kids. My parents didn't have to stay up late, nor be awaken early, while I slept in until 9 or 10.
Therein lies my favorite Christmas. I was the Vice President of our 9th Grade Home Room. Our teacher arranged for the class to collect canned goods and toys for a poor family in the area. The teacher provided the turkey. On Christmas morning, the officers had to be at school by 5:00 in the morning. While my parents slept, I woke up around 4, way earlier than I would ever consider waking up, and left for school at 4:30. I believe it was snowing or had snowed. Regardless, there was about half foot of snow on the ground I had to walk through early that dark, slightly moonlit morning. After reaching the school, we all gathered the food and toys and our teacher drove to the poor family's residence. I don't recall where it was, but I do remember entering one room. I don't even recall if this was a single parent family or not, though I believe there were two young children and they were quite excited.
After returning to school, the sun had just broken through the horizon and my walk home was so very bright as I reflected on the joy of giving rather than just receiving. Seeing a couple of young children excited over the gifts we brought and knowing that they would have a healthy and filled Christmas dinner made my walk home so much more exciting than having received my presents the night before.
Why not donate to the Salvation Army to provide other poor children toys for their Christmas this year. Just click on the above line or or the picture at the left. Just $5 would help, though any donation would be appreciated.