University of Illinois Extension

Make Family Memories This Holiday Season

Kay Mayberry, Family Life Educator

During the holiday season, many families gather for special traditions and fond memories. But for grandparents who are parenting again, the holidays may bring on a sense of loss - especially for the grandchildren.

How can you help? Use the holiday season as a chance to talk about traditions that your family has enjoyed throughout the years. You might even want to start some new traditions that the grandchildren will enjoy.

Traditions are special ways of doing things that we repeat over and over again. And, they have special meaning for family members.

Traditions can help give families stability. They give family members a sense of belonging. Values and beliefs are reinforced through our traditions. By sharing these experiences again and again, we learn that traditions are created because family is important.

As the holidays draw near, start talking about activities you can do together. And, they don't have to cost extra money.

Simple activities can become fun ways to be together. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Have a cookie baking day. Enjoy some of the cookies while you work, and freeze the rest for the holidays.
  • Make a family tree with photographs or drawings of family members.
  • Designate one afternoon a week for a family walk. You might explore a nearby forest area, a community park, or your own neighborhood.
  • Go caroling as a family. Call on neighbors, friends or shut-ins.
  • Prepare a special recipe that has been handed down through the generations.
  • Set aside an evening to watch holiday TV specials together. Make some popcorn and enjoy shows like Frosty the Snowman, A Christmas Carol, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.