This season isn’t about the stuff and how much we can cram into our lives. It’s the people.
You and I have a mental list of all the awesome things we want to do this holiday season. It all stems from memories and traditions in our families. For me, there’s making Vanilkové Rohlíčky (vanilla crescents), a Czech Christmas cookie my husband’s grandma made as he grew up. There’s goofing off in the snow with everyone above. There’s cooking my very first Thanksgiving turkey as my mom coaches me in my home.
The problem—as we all know so well—is that this time of year can get really overwhelming in our search for the perfect holiday.
That’s why I’m here to challenge you with one thing: slow down. Take Emily’s approach (at Remodeling This Life) this holiday by only saying YES to the things you really, truly want to celebrate. And focus on the story you are creating this season.
Why story? Because the story is what defines us.
I realize that I could probably just skip the turkey this Thanksgiving and keep serving a vegetarian meal. But deep in my heart, I know. It isn’t about having meat on the table. It’s about creating that one beautiful day that brings our family together. It’s about the memories of that day – seeing my grandma teach my mom how to roast a turkey thirty years ago, watching my grandpa carve it at the head of the table. Thanksgiving is about creating foods that have been favorites for generations. It’s about gratitude.
Deep in your heart, you know, too. You know the things that matter most. You’re crafting a series of traditions and legacies that future generations are going to continue. That’s a version of us worth celebrating and capturing.
The greatest thing is when these traditions are celebrated and documented. Here are four ways to slow down and start capturing the stories of your holiday.
1. When you gather for a meal, have everyone share something she’s thankful for or a holiday memory she loves.
Use something like this gratitude journal of prompts, have someone transcribe everything to paper as people talk, or do like Lynne Palazzi’s mom does every Thanksgiving and embroider memories and signatures onto a tablecloth. Pull out the same list each year and see how your story changes.
2. Keep an ongoing scrapbook.
Scrapbookers around the world begin a mammoth-sized project of documenting their holidays in a project called December Daily. Led by Ali Edwards, they start scrapbooking a page a day from December 1 to 25th. It’s a lot of work, but something you could easily scale down. Imagine the stories they are capturing!
3. Keep a more relaxed, reflective holiday journal.
Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate. Maybe invite the kids to join you. And keep a holiday journal. You can journal about specific days and events that year. You could tuck in wish lists and shopping lists. Reflect on memories of past holidays. This holiday journal from Gadanke offers a lot of prompts to keep you inspired and places to store Christmas cards and programs. Imagine pulling out Christmas journals from past years. (It’s something my mom and I do every year, and we’re always amazed by the things we have forgotten… things we were so sure we wouldn’t forget!)
4. Create a memory box.
Hang onto all the bits and pieces from your season—from programs and wrapping paper scraps to and trinkets and baby’s firsts. Print off photos. Tuck everything away and store it with your holiday decorations. To keep everything together, you could order a pretty box with family photos and names on it. Your kids could decorate an old cereal box or shoe box. You could just use a simple large envelope.
Photo by Katie Clemons
5. Make a habit of telling your kids your Christmas stories.
There are hundreds of holiday books to chose from. But why not set those aside some nights? Tell some of your own stories. Describe family traditions and memories from your childhood. Talk about favorite recipes and things that your family does today that you did when you were little. Ask grandparents to do the same. Our kids will love that stuff!
See those Christmas cookies your kids made? You know – the ones that have more frosting and candies than actual cookies? (Embrace holiday imperfection, right?!) Well do you remember how that exact recipe came to be a family tradition or why you chose the sprinkles and candies? Share it this season. Imagine the time capsules of stories and memories you could create.
How are you documenting the pieces of your story this season?