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    Family Holiday Traditions
    Seven days of Kwanzaa, eight days of Hanukah, twelve days of Christmas. Enough time, if we seize it, to connect with our families, recharge our batteries, and satisfy our souls. Here are three great holiday lists to get you started.

    12 Fabulous Family Holiday Traditions to start with your kids:
    1. Make pies to take to the soup kitchen or to the firehouse where folks are hard at work.

    2. Write a winter poem together every year; paste them in a scrapbook with a photo.

    3. Go on a nature walk to gather greenery.

    4. Write �Appreciations� � each person in the family puts one on each of their gifts.

    5. Have a holiday card making party; invite the kids� friends.

    6. Have a family session to clean and repair old toys and clothes and take them to donate.

    7. Spread pinecones with peanut butter and birdseed and put them out for the birds.

    8. Bake cookies together to give as presents.

    9. Go apple picking, or just buy a bunch, and make applesauce to go with your Hanukah latkes or Christmas pancakes.

    10. Deliver Meals on Wheels for homebound folks.

    11. Go ice skating together.

    12. Have an annual Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or tree trimming party.

    12 Ways to Help Your Child Discover His �Inner Angel�
    1. Have a Gift for the World, or Charity, or Tzedakah (the Jewish equivalent that means restoring justice) night. Let your kids make a �Wish List� of all the ways they�d like to make the world a better place. Then let each person in the family choose one thing to address one of those issues. For instance, you might make a donation to Hurricane Relief, plan to volunteer at a soup kitchen together, and make a commitment to drive less and buy more efficient light bulbs.

    2. Go to the roots of your tradition to talk about giving. Kwanzaa, for instance, is about the principles and practice of bringing good into the world. Celebrating the birth of Christ gives ample opportunity to talk about good deeds. Tzedakah is a fundamental part of Jewish life.

    3. Model generosity. Give to the panhandler, bake pies for the elderly. Donate to a worthy cause in honor of the holiday. Make giving a part of your daily life.

    4. Don�t force kids to share before they�re ready, and don�t force your kids to give things up �because others are needy.� Giving shouldn�t be painful.

    5. Volunteer as a family. My kids and I volunteer at a local soup kitchen, and my kids love feeling like they�re making a difference in these folks� lives. It also helps them feel better when they see a homeless person, to know that person can get a hot meal at �our� soup kitchen.

    6. Find ways to involve your kids� friends, for instance by having a party to bake pies to donate. Take them to the local soup kitchen, or to the Firehouse, where the firefighters have to work on the holiday.

    7. Have a Donation evening. Go through the house together looking for anything you no longer use that can be cleaned or repaired and donated.

    8. Every child deserves the pleasure of giving her own money to a worthy cause. Try giving a little extra weekly allowance that goes in a special "charity" jar, and letting her give it away every year at the holidays.

    9. Talk explicitly about your values and why they're important to you. Why do we share with others less fortunate? What IS integrity? Why is respectful behavior important in a church, synagogue or mosque? What does it mean to be a responsible member of a community?

    10. Model taking responsibility for your community. "It's a pain to carry this trash till we get to the car, but I don't see a trashcan and we never litter.� �This sign says parking is reserved for handicapped people, so of course we can't take that spot."

    11. Start while your kids are young. As they get into their teen years, they�ll find worthy causes of their own.

    12. Share the idea with your kids that giving to others is one of the reasons we�re alive. And one of the ways we can all make the world a better place.

    12 Pleasing Homemade Presents to Make With Your Kids
    1. A selection of handmade cards or wrapping paper to use all year long.

    2. Personalized Mousepad.

    3. Handmade soap or bath salts.

    4. Hand-dipped candles.

    5. Canvas bags with iron-on designs.

    6. Homemade calendars with photos.

    7. Painted picture frames.

    8. Tie-dyed tee-shirts, sheets, etc.

    9. Christmas ornaments (especially with kids� photos).

    10. Gifts for other kids: homemade clay, finger paints, bubbles, puppets.

    11. Something from your kitchen: Cookies, jams, fudge, quick breads, your famous spaghetti sauce, your special trail mix, or a kit with the makings for something yummy, tied with a ribbon: your perfect pancakes or scrumptious seven bean soup.

    12. Certificates for your services: A massage, babysitting, dog walking, painting a room, flying a kite together.

    Your goal is to delight your giftees with a token of your affection, not to garner status points or exhaust yourself. One strategy is to make big batches of something that most folks will enjoy -- fudge or bath salts -- so that many of your gifts can be made in one evening. You can easily find instructions for these gifts, and sources for supplies, online.

    � Dr. Laura Markham

    Dr. Laura Markham is the editor of the parenting web site YourParentingSolutions.com, offering solutions and inspiration you can use every day to create the family of your dreams. She specializes in helping families nurture the parent-child relationships that protect today's kids. Dr. Markham lives in New York with her husband, eleven year old daughter, and fifteen year old son.