Traditions and happy holidays go hand-in-hand.
In the midst of an economic slump, a season usually filled with cheer and merrymaking can be an extremely stressful time financially. Toys that cost an arm and a leg, expensive electric bills, and affording traditional Christmas items like a tree can bring financial issues to the forefront.
Although it can be easy to focus on the hardships of getting through the holiday season, if the perspective on the reason for the season alters just a bit, this Christmas can be the best one yet.
One way to shift focus from the economy to family is through traditions.
Traditions come in many shapes, forms and extravagancies, from decorating the tree together, to setting up an in-home factory and taking three days to bake pounds upon pounds of cookies.
No matter what the tradition, it is important to the welfare of families to establish some form of family lore. That way, when hard times come upon a family, there is something to look forward to, and a sense of consistency that can bring much needed comfort.
KHTS office manager Connie Jones' family traditions include allowing the youngest member of the family to hide baby Jesus from the Nativity until Christmas day when he is "born" (found), and enlisting a member to be the designated Elf to wear "the hat" and give out presents.
Sales Manager Sharon Bronson's family always goes to the movies Christmas day, and each member gets to open one gift of choice Christmas Eve.
Morning show host John Summers commemorates Christmas by NOT cooking dinner, as does News Intern Jeremiah McDaniel's family, who make a point of not creating a Christmas feast.
Robin Strickland, from the front desk, took a tradition her parents established of buying her two sisters and herself matching pajamas each year, and passed it on to her family, so that her own three adult children and husband have matching pajama pants to wear Christmas morning.
News Director Jon Dell and his sister made it a tradition to make their parents breakfast Christmas morning, and continue that even now as married adults. They also enjoy listening to the 99 Cent store "power disco CD" that was once given as a gag gift, and has now turned into a Christmas must.
Radio voices Mike Dowler and Jason Endicott spend Christmas with their respective families, Dowler participating in opening a present on Christmas Eve, and Endicott annually going to his parents house for Christmas Eve.
As varied as family traditions are, financial, medical, or emotional afflictions may not be as stressful if there is an age-old tradition to fall back in order to remember the true meaning of the holidays.
And don't be fooled; it is never too late to instate a new family tradition.
- Begin a Christmas play tradition! If there are young children in the family, have them dress up and reenact the Christmas story. Or give them costumes to wear and let their imaginations create a play of their own.
- Teach your kids the gift of giving oneself for the good of others by volunteering. Churches, non-profits and hospitals have many volunteer opportunities, and the Los Angeles Mission has an annual "street meal" event that needs 400 volunteers to operate, and can be a great family tradition to start.
- Or, for those without family in close proximity, opening your home to others is a great way to spread holiday cheer and establish a close-knit community.
- California is a state where many people move to and from, so it's not uncommon to find first-generation Californians living in Santa Clarita in need of some welcoming.
- Single people, senior citizens, and single-parents are the perfect candidates to start a holiday game playing, food eating gathering with.
- The holidays are defined by many treats that are not found throughout the rest of the year, so now is the perfect time to get together with family to create seasonal goodies.
- Organize a potluck and designate one member to create and bring a "mystery meal," or get the kids involved with cooking by letting them chose a new recipe to explore.
- If community is a top priority, acquire a permit from the city and hold a cul-de-sac block-party potluck, where everyone brings a meal or a special dessert, and "Old Man Jones" from next door stops by as Santa Claus.
- Musical talent running rampant in your family? Get a group together to go Christmas caroling! If the thought of knocking on doors makes you squirm, hitch a flatbed trailer to the suburban, fill it with hay bales, and drive by the homes in neighborhoods singing or playing songs of the season. Don't forget the hot chocolate!
- Another new way to celebrate the holidays is by adopting a tree! Choose a tree in the neighborhood or a park, and bring a box of decorations to liven up any lonely Balsam Fir.
- Instate a movie tradition with the family. Go to see a movie on Christmas day, or stay at home and pop something into the DVD player. Christmas classics like "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and "A Christmas Story" are great traditional Christmas movies to watch.
- Or, be inventive and designate a completely non-holiday movie as the traditional flick of the season. Movies like "The Wizard of Oz," or "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" will make your family's movie tradition one-of-a-kind.
- Family gatherings are also a great time to gather around and watch old home movies of past Christmases. Let one member pick an old tape to watch, regardless of other member's protests.
Whatever the tradition may be, make it a point this Christmas to spend time with family and friends that share common customs, rather than stressing the importance of buying expensive gifts.
The gift of giving your time will be remembered far longer than the vibrating foot massager that will break in three months.