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Share the gift of presence

By Renée Tillotson

Tired of malls and the online shopping ordeal at time of year? Here’s a list of tried-and-true activities from our family to relieve some of the emphasis on lavish presents. Give your PRESENCE!

Gather your family together near the end of the year, hopefully in person, but it even works online when you live far and wide from each other. Go around the circle 3 to 5 times, each person telling one memorable event from the year that is just passing. Listen well. You’ll hear all sorts of things you never knew had even happened. It’s a great way to spend time together traveling in the car or once you get to the cabin. If you have a note-taker, they can read it out loud to start next year’s circle.

On Christmas Eve, do a group recitation of the entire Night Before Christmas poem. It’s just fine for the person leading the group to have a copy of the poem to help coach everybody through:

The moon on the crest of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.

Watch the kids’ eyes get big seeing how everyone remembers it.

Go for a group walk or hike. Bring a healthy little treat for the ducks at the nearby pond. Put tracks in some new-fallen snow yourselves! 

Get up in time for a dawn swim together to start a holiday. Puts everybody who does it in a great mood, bouying up even the folks who couldn’t imagine starting their day like that!

Sing or bring your instruments and play music together – either or both!

Make Christmas or Hanukkah cookies together. Frost and sprinkle with little kids. Use toothpicks or tiny paintbrushes for the more intricate frosting designs.

Play corn-hole or Yatzhee or Scrabble together.  Careful with Monopoly, golf, or any other games that might bring out too much of the competitive edge in your family!

Do jigsaw puzzles together. Have lots of cookie pans, box lids, etc. to sort the pieces into. When it’s finished everybody wins!


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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)