In November our worship theme was "Attention." We gave some attention to the UCM tradition of the Holiday Fair. This has been a tradition in our church for over 100 years! The children made play dough to sell in the Kids Room at the fair, and also decorations too!
I got the request from some families to find out ways to celebrate the holidays without spending lots of money. It seemed like a great reason to continue giving attention to traditions, since many of these take little to know money, but are really what make the holidays special. I hope this can be a compilation that we add to each year.
Thanks to everyone who submitted something! I acknowledge that many of these traditions are centered around Christmas. While Unitarian Universalists come from many religious and cultural backgrounds, this is just what was submitted via the e-news link and Facebook in the short time frame I had to round them up. I'd be thrilled to add some that include other holidays such as Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and others! You can email me 100 words (ballpark) here.
Homemade Coupons - Sasha Thayer
Inspired by then Rev. Scudder Parker, decades ago when my daughter was young, we started exchanging "coupons" for various things as gifts. Within our family, a favorite was a batch of chocolate cookies. When my daughter got older and got her cosmetology license, another favorite was for a haircut. Every family is different, and will be able to come up with their own gift coupons. Perhaps for an elderly family member or friend, it's making lunch, or taking them on an errand, or folding their laundry. For a child, it could be an afternoon doing a favorite activity, or helping with a difficult task. A child making a coupon for a parent could offer to bring order to the sock drawer, or help stack wood.... And, of course, adding some kind of decoration to coupons is always well received, whether it's original artwork, or pretty stickers accompanying return address labels.
Sinterklass - Susan Koch
When our children were growing up, they always put their shoes out on the eve of Dec. 5th for St Nicholas to fill . Their Dutch dad celebrates Sinterklaas and kept up the tradition. In the morning they would find small chocolates and clementine oranges in their shoes. Sometimes Dutch treats would arrive( with help from Oma) and the family would have Dutch chocolate letters and windmill cookies( speculaas) at dinner time. Our family still takes a few minutes on that day to be in touch, and wish each other a Happy Sinterklaas!
Games -- Nancy Schulz
My four siblings and I live in different parts of the country. In lieu of being together, we create a different game each year that we all can participate in. This year the game involves writing trivia questions about our childhood, parents, relatives, etc. and submitting them to my sister. She'll compile the questions and send them out before Christmas and we'll all see how we each do. There are prizes in our games some of the time, but there are laughs all of the time.
Mentioned by Kris Pavek, Elaine Ball, and Tory Rhodin
Tory said, "That is our family's tradition as well! My best friend when I was a kid and I both came from big families, and we went carolling around our neighborhood with all our brothers and sisters. One of my sweetest memories is when some Italian neighbors invited us in and we sat on their living room floor in front of the Christmas tree and creche, singing in harmonies."
Risengrød (rice porridge) - Irina Markova
After my family immigrated to USA from Danmark when I was 10, we continued to celebrate Danish traditions. One was the whole family all eating a big bowl of “risengrød “ ( Rice porridge made with milk, sugar and cinnamon.). The person who found the one almond in the porridge got a marcipan pig as a prize. Some of the risengrød was always shared with animals including the rats in the attic.
(Years ago I shared this risengrød tradition with the entire UCM congregation !) After the meal , everyone held hands and danced around the Christmas tree which was lit with live candles.
One version of the recipe is here.
A special book each year - Rachel Nelson
We started with the traditional 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and worked from there. We have a dinosaurs' version, a pop up book wherein Santa's sleigh is broken, and many more. We never did any Christian Christmas stories as it doesn't align with our views... which led me to start writing some books myself.My favorites are probably the ones that were specific to Utah and the Vermont version. Our selection mirrored our move, so it was fun and personal. I think they're called "Santa's Coming To (insert state here)". We truly love The Twelve Days of Christmas though, as we each chose our own pages to read...and we sing them. It sort of stuck and the kids remember their own lines/pages each year. (They also do a new funny voice each round.)
Cutting down a Christmas Tree - Mary Alice Bisbee
My brother, father and I always went up towards our sugar house in Waitsfield, below Bald Mountain to pick out the best spruce tree we could find, cut and drag down for our Christmas tree in the living room.
New Year's Eve Memory Jar reading - Liza Earle-Centers
This is a newer tradition in our family. My first year working at UCM I needed an activity for the church kids to do on New Year's. I found Memory Jars. The idea is that throughout the year you add notes of special times that you want to remember. It could be something small like "Cadence made delicious pancakes for the family!" or something big like, "Lincoln joins the Gospel Choir." Make sure it has a central location in your home, with scrap paper and a pen or pencil nearby. At least once a month try to sit down and remember a few highlights of the recent weeks. We read them aloud as a family on New Year's Eve, to cherish the past year. Then I put them in an envelope labelled with that year, and save it for decades of nostalgia to come! Works for individuals too!