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SALT LAKE CITY -- There’s a reason we get so excited for the Christmas season each year: the memories. And nothing makes memories like a good family tradition.
But, if like so many, failing to create new traditions has become an annual occurrence at your house, here’s five ideas to make the season memorable:
The letter from Santa – For the most part, from the eyes of your children, any Christmas morning tradition that delays the opening of presents is probably on the verge of cruel and unusual punishment. Still, if you want a tradition that will keep the kids out of the front room while you make a few final preparations, you might want to give this a shot.
Every year before you open up the gifts get the mail. Santa Claus watches us all year long, and with a little effort on your part, he’s usually willing to write a personal letter to your children explaining why he thought they deserved to be on the nice list this year. Whether you go to the mailbox, or just find it next to the half eaten cookies, it’s a pre-present tradition your children will actually look forward to and will hold onto long after the new toy is broken.
Christmas traps – Children have an incredible desire to sense the exact moment when Christmas begins, and when the clock strikes midnight, they usually think it’s time to start opening presents. So this year, why not let them open presents whenever they want — if they can get to them that is.
Set up a series of traps between their room and the tree. You can use string strung from point to point with bells on it, or tape a series of pieces of crate paper across the wall, tie the door knobs together, or whatever your mind can come up with.
If your kids make it through, they get to open presents, if they’re caught, it’s back to bed until the designated time. And don’t worry too much about missing the moment, once the traps are set, you’ll be the one who can’t sleep because you’re so excited.
Santa’s little helpers – We all want to teach our children about giving, and this is one way to accomplish that task without having them use your money to do it. Some time before Christmas, explain to your children that Santa needs some help to finish with all of the toys he needs to deliver. Have them pick out some of their old toys that they don’t use anymore, and put them under the tree before they go to sleep. When they wake up in the morning, the presents are gone, with a thank you note from Santa explaining that the toys will be taken to children that need them.
Post-Christmas sales – It’s no secret that the best deals on Christmas décor come the week after the big day. Most of the decorations get deep discounts of at least 50 percent off as soon as Dec. 26. This year, start the tradition of buying a new piece of décor while the prices are so great. Let the whole family get in on choosing the item, then wrap it up and put it back in storage with the other Christmas stuff.
When next year rolls around, you’ll have a pleasant surprise to start out the season, and the kids can get that hankering to open “just one gift” taken care of before the tree is ever even in place.
Santa’s elf – Believe it or not, Santa will loan you an elf to watch over your children during the holiday season. He usually shows up the day after Thanksgiving, and sits quietly in different places around the house, usually moving in the night, since he has to look like a stuffed doll during the day. You children will love seeing where he is every morning, and will do their best to be good, since he usually goes back to the North Pole to report to Santa on a regular basis.
Brandon Comstock is an instructor of religion at Hurricane High School seminary. He and his wife have two little boys, and are expecting their third child in March.