Create New Family Traditions This Holiday Season

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Whether you and your family celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another holiday, there is always room to create new and meaningful ways of celebration.

Yes, hot cocoa by the fire while unwrapping gifts is tried and true, or lighting the menorah and exchanging gifts is how it's always been done. Turkey and ham with sides from grandmother's cookbook are prepared and eaten around the table with extended family. But, just because it's always been done doesn't mean the next generation can't create a new tradition to pass down. Here are some ideas for you and your family to expand upon.

How about ice skating? It's cold enough outside, and while we don't live in an area where you can skate in your backyard, some venues are open. Quiet Waters Park offers ice skating outside in a serene environment and even sells hot cocoa when you need to warm up. The park is located in Annapolis and is open weekdays except for Tuesday from 1:00pm to 9:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 9:00am to 9:00pm. The park is closed on Christmas day but is open Christmas Eve. So this year, before or after attending service, load your family into the car and take the easy drive to Quiet Waters for some family fun. This still gives you time to tuck in the kids early as they await the arrival of Santa Claus. Glen Burnie Town Center also has outdoor ice skating, and the Naval Academy has an indoor option.

If ice skating doesn't sound appealing, how about movie night? Hunker down with a bowl of popcorn and a cold drink and put on a movie marathon. Invite the neighbors over to watch “It's a Wonderful Life,” “The Polar Express” and “Miracle on 34th Street.” See who is game for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” This could easily be a bonding experience for adults and children. And, after the kid's movies are out of the way and the children are playing with toys and games, the adults can unwind and watch some of their favorite classics.

The holidays are always a great way to give back and count your blessings. There are plenty of organizations to volunteer with or support. Consider doing a food drive and delivering it to SPAN (Serving People Across Neighborhoods) in Severna Park. This could be the price of admission to your movie night. Make a competition of which family can collect the most food and then deliver it to SPAN, the Salvation Army or to a church. Focus on the giving aspect of the holiday instead of the getting. You could also make this an opportunity to clean out your closets. Collect those clothes you're no longer going to wear and deliver them to Goodwill in Pasadena off of Ritchie Highway.

Do you enjoy singing? How about caroling in a retirement home? Spring Arbor, HeartLands, Brightview, Sunrise, and PearTree House are all nearby retirement communities and would welcome some holiday music.

If you prefer to work with your hands and get crafty, you could host a holiday card- and ornament-making party at your house. Have everyone bring a small dish and materials. Construction paper, fancy pens, and stickers are all that are needed to create some holiday cards, and felt, scissors and a small sewing kit are enough to make ornaments to hang on the tree. It's a great way to have some creative fun with friends and dress the tree at the same time.

No matter how many holiday traditions you have or how long you've had them, there's always room to add more.

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