The holidays are upon us! There is a certain magic in the air this time of year. A spirit of reflection and giving are seen all around us. Celebrations with lights, song, and praise begin to surround us. Happiness, laughter, anticipation and wonder; these are the things that make this season special. Perhaps the most rewarding of pleasantries will be time spent with loved ones. We have compiled some thoughts that we will be sending you daily, brief antidotes to support your deepened connection with the ones you love most. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, this is our wish and gift for you and yours. Happy Holidays! Love: Your Friends at New Haven
Nov. 26: Provide random gifts or acts of service to others. You can do this as an individual in behalf of someone you love, or you can work together as a family to select individuals or other families who could use some cheering. Service is one of the best methods to deepen relational bonds, and serving others is one of the best antidotes for any blues you may be experiencing in your own life.
Nov. 27: Make a charitable contribution. Select a charity who’s cause you can support. You may never fully realize the blessing you will bring to another family by supporting charitable efforts.
Nov. 29: Meditate. One of the best places to do this is in a quiet corner in nature. During your meditation, conduct a self inventory. Honor your goodness, growth and accomplishments. Experience the sensation of gratitude for the goodness and gifts that have come your way. Consider ways in which you would like to continue refining and enriching your life.
Nov. 30: Create a thankful tree. Start with a paper tree and add leafs daily with things you are thankful for.
Dec. 1: Set aside some family time to share family history stories. This could be done over dinner, in the family room with some hot chocolate, in the cemetery, or any other fitting location. Celebrating one’s ancestry and family legacy can be a great way to honor past relationships while expanding current relational connections.
Dec. 2: Create a family secret service activity. Have each family member draw names of other family members with the challenge to find ways to serve that family member every day for a week or throughout the season. They can do a chore, leave a note, run an errand, make a meal, etc. Use your imagination, and remember that your mission is top secret!
Dec. 3: Do you remember doorbell ditching from your childhood? Well here’s your chance to do it again! Bake some treats or gather some goodies, write up a nice card and leave them for your neighbor. Ring the bell then run like… well you know. Beware of ice, guard dogs, haphazard extension cords and rogue carolers. Safety first!
Dec. 4: Go ice skating! Strut your best moves, or glide gracefully across the ice. If coordination and balance aren’t you’re forte, don’t worry. Your clumsy efforts will make for big smiles and hearty laughter, not to mention the great candid shots!
Dec. 5: Decorate for the holidays. There is always wonder and excitement as you step back and admire the transformation you created together as a family. Use traditional decorations, ones from your heritage, or come up with your own themes!
Dec. 6: Take a family picture together. This can be a formal picture, a casual picture or a funny picture. Think holiday greeting cards!
Dec. 7: As a family, plan a new tradition. Allow input from all and come up with something that all can be excited about. Document it with pictures or video. Who knows, you may even create something that continues to bring families together for generations to come!
Dec. 8: As a family, reflect upon and share the many miracles in your life and in the world around you. If you are spiritually or religiously inclined, include gifts and miracles of a spiritual nature as well. Renew and rededicate your commitments. Discovering and celebrating shared faith and/or meaning is a great way to deepen family relationships.
Dec. 9: Mandatory fun time! Get the whole family together and spend an hour playing together. You could play card games, dreidel, board games, football, go sledding, etc. Remember, a family that plays together stays together!
Dec. 10: Visit a candy or treat shop. Discovering your new favorite holiday treat can make for a sweet activity together!
Dec. 11: Light a candle in memory of a loved one who has passed on. Reflect on the gifts brought into your life by that relationship, and reflect upon ways to honor and celebrate their life and legacy in your own life. Consider having each family member participate with their own candle if they wish.
Dec. 12: Send holiday cards and seasons wishes to those serving our country. Our nation’s freedom is a tremendous blessing. Spending time expressing thanks in this manner can be a great way to deepen relationships with those we love while lifting the spirits of those unable to be home during the holidays.
Dec. 13: Play a prank. The exchange of playful and fun teasing in relationships keeps the bond fresh and new. Remember to keep it good natured and to avoid things that would induce extreme embarrassment, panic or harm. These, of course, would be counter-productive.
Dec. 14: Have a candle-lit meal. Consider formal attire and ambiance. All too often we reserve our best for extraordinary occasions. Celebrate love, life, friendship and family. After all, these are the best life has to offer!
Dec. 15: Construct a ginger-bread house. Buy your favorite treats and use those to decorate. Consider using different “building materials” to represent different aspects of your relationship that are poignant or meaningful. Your talent won’t matter as the process is more meaningful than the product. Regardless of masterpiece or flop, you’ll enjoy good company and plenty of sweet moments!
Dec. 16: Learn from a mentor. Make contact with someone you look up to and glean wisdom and advice. This could be someone you know or someone you have just met. Especially consider the wisdom of those who have forged life longer than you. Asking counsel from another is a powerful way to deepen a relational connection.
Dec. 17: Go out caroling! If public caroling is not your thing, consider other traditional songs or music you can enjoy as a family. Music is a great way to celebrate good times as a family.
Dec. 18: Prepare gifts together. Shop together, create together, wrap together, and give together.
Dec. 19: Leave a message in the snow for your loved one to discover. This can often be done along your front walk, on a car window or, if you do not have snow, in the form of a card or banner. Nothing says, “I love you” like a cold greeting
Dec. 20: Watch a favorite holiday movie together! Don’t forget popcorn, throw pillows, hot coco, cuddly blankets, and all the works!
Dec. 21: Read a children’s story as a family. Sharing favorite holiday stories with a loved one can be a great way to invite holiday spirit. If children are involved, consider letting the children read to the parents. Use voices and actions to bring the story to life!
Dec. 22: Share a favorite holiday memory: Call or Skype parents or grandparents and ask them what their favorite holiday memory is. Even better, have it written and give your children a copy to keep.
Dec. 23: Go out and enjoy holiday lights together. There are few things as serene as enjoying a quiet stroll or a peaceful drive together with loved ones, while enjoying seasonal music and the magical transformation all around us that occurs this time of year.
Dec. 24: Just be together. Life is fleeting. Activities, responsibilities, obligations and other time demands are insatiable. Take the afternoon or evening and set it aside to just be together. Remember, we give our lives to that which we give our time.
Dec. 25: Lift someone’s soul today. The greatest gift we can give to another is a portion of ourselves. Love motivates action. Loving action changes lives.
Dec. 26: Go through old family pictures and videos. This can be especially fun when collectively done at family gatherings. Pictures and home videos can be a great way to celebrate your relationships while walking down memory lane.
Dec. 27: Visit someone you haven’t seen in a while. If they are too far away to visit, make it a point to reach out to them through a letter, card, phone call, etc. Renewing lost connections to celebrate what’s passed and what is to come can be enriching. Furthermore, it is a great reminder of how many people support and love us, including those of whom we may not always be aware.
Dec. 28: Enjoy a complete meal fondue stile! Why? ‘Cause it’s awesome!
Dec. 29: Go out and make a snowman together with a loved one. Snow angels, snow forts, sculptures and snow ball fights can also be great bonding time as a family. Bring your video camera!
Dec. 30: Write a 2012 family update and send it out to friends and relatives. Consider including pictures, stories, and fond memories. Putting together a letter like this can be a great way to connect with more distant relationships.
Dec. 31: Make a resolution to continue looking for meaningful opportunities to bond and connect through the New Year!