Tag Archive for holiday

8 “Family Things” for Which I’m Thankful

It is that time of year. You know, the time of year when people think about gratitude… Thanksgiving. In fact, I have seen several people posting thanks on their Facebook page each day to celebrate a month of thanksgiving. So, if you will bear with me for a moment, I want to share 8 things about family for which I am thankful. 

     1.   I am thankful for my wife. My wife supports me in so many ways. She encourages me and helps me work toward my dreams. She gives wise input to all our decisions and steers me away from unwise choices. All in all, she brings out the best in me.

2.   I am thankful for my daughters. I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters. They are talented, kind, and compassionate. I am often amazed at their acts of kindness as well as their compassion. I am very proud of them…and thankful to have them in my life.

3.   I am thankful for my parents. I understand more and more each day how blessed I am to have grown up in the family I did. My parents’ love and guidance set me on a path that has led to my own joyous family and life.

4.   I am thankful for the sound of music that so often pervades our home. Not just the radio, but the singing, piano playing, guitar playing, oboe playing, horn playing…that I so often hear. Music has truly added great joy to my family life.

5.   I am thankful for the family dinners we enjoyed. We do not get to have family dinners every night…I often work evenings. We do, however, enjoy family dinners and lunches on a regular basis. Some of my favorite memories revolve around dinner conversations, laughter, and intimate times of sharing. Sometime I will have to share some of those dinner conversations…actually, my family says I better not.

6.   I am thankful for times we worship as a family. I remember Christmas Eve services, Thanksgiving eve services, Sunday worship services, and camp worship services in which we worshipped as a family. The joy of seeing my family serve in worship has also been a great source of gratitude.

7.   I am thankful for times we serve others as a family. I look back with great fondness at the times of serving in VBS, children’s programs, and a mission trip together. Those times of service provided wonderful opportunities for us to connect with one another, share our family love with others, and grow together.

8.   I am thankful for our family vacations. Some of my favorite family vacations have included the beach and camping. There is nothing better than sitting and playing on the beach as a family. The relaxed time of togetherness led to deeper conversations and great fun that I would not trade for anything.

As I write this out, it sounds a little gushy…sappy even. But we are called to be a thankful people. When we remember to view the world and our families through the eyes of gratitude, we find more joy and greater intimacy. So, for the goal of joy and intimacy I can sound a little gushy—how about you? What are you most thankful for in your family?

12 More National Holidays to Celebrate Family

I thought I might share a few more “National Holidays” your family might enjoy celebrating (click here and here for some other holidays to celebrate). This time I did not include any food holidays, although food compliments any celebration in my mind. These holidays are all relational and fun holidays. A couple of them even offer some great perks if you watch for them. So, find the appropriate month and let the family celebrations begin!


January 24–National Compliment Day. Make some major deposits in your Family Bank of Honor on this day with a few well-spoken compliments. You may even want to start a Pandemonium of Honor this month and practice throughout the year!

January 31–National Backward Day.
Do everything backwards. Have supper for breakfast and breakfast for supper. Eat your meal starting with dessert. Put on your clothes backwards and go out to eat. Walk into the restaurant backwards. You get the idea. Have fun.

February 17–National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Another wonderful opportunity to honor your family with a random act of kindness. Be creative and have fun.

March 22–National Goof Off Day.
My kids think I celebrate this day every day.  That’s OK. The point is to have some fun. So, go ahead and goof off together.

April 27–National Tell a Story Day.
I love to tell stories. Tell stories about your dating days, early childhood days, your favorite family vacations. You can make up stories. My kids still remember the stories we made up when they were preschoolers. Read a story together. Whatever you choose, just tell some stories that bring your family together. 

June 22–National Listen to a Child Day.
Listen to your child…they will love your for it.

July 13–Embrace Your Geekness Day.
All you Big Bang enthusiasts rejoice. Today is your day!

August 4–International Forgiveness Day.
Forgiveness will change your life and your family life. If you have trouble figuring out how to forgive, read 5 Steps for Forgiving Family.

September 19–Talk Like a Pirate Day.
A day of family celebration. Every family member can talk like a pirate and you can watch Pirates of the Caribbean. Invite some friends over and make it a multi-family event! Go to Long John Silver’s and order with your best pirate accent. Dress up like a pirate and you might get free donuts at Krispy Kreme.

October 12–National Family Bowling Day.
You don’t have to be good, just have fun. See who can get the worst score. Bowl behind your back. Plan to knock down as few pins as possible. Put up the bumpers. Whatever it takes, have a fun family outing while you bowl.

November 11-Origami Day.
Enjoy time making origami today. Here’s some help if you want some. 

December 8–Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.
Dress up like you live in Wild West, renaissance England, ancient Rome, Israel at the time of Christ, or your community in the midst of dinosaurs. Whatever time era you think your family might enjoy, travel to that time in dress, food, and amenities. Have fun!


Alright now, get out there…Have Fun and Celebrate Family!

Celebrate Your Family With Pie For A Year

I recently came across a website that listed various “food holidays” celebrated throughout the United States. I love to celebrate…and I love to eat. So, I decided to combine food, family, and holiday celebration for a year of family celebration. However, there were so many holidays (if you think I’m making this up, visit American Holidays  and scroll down to the American Food Holiday Section) I had to limit them  or my celebration would lead to a wideness of berth preventing me from comfortably walking through the door to my house.  Anyway, in the interest of celebrating family and remaining somewhat healthy, I have limited the celebration to desserts…and not just any dessert. No, I have limited the celebration to pies. Who doesn’t love pie? Join me in celebrating family for a year with these National Pie Days. Make the whole pie process a family event. Go to the grocery store, the market, or the fruit stand with your whole family to pick out the perfect ingredients. Make the pie together. You might even make an extra pie to use during a gratitude visit (see 3 Ways to Nurture an Amazing Family Panacea for details). Don’t forget to enjoy eating the pie together (with ice cream for the perfect treat). Here are a few National Pie Days I invite you to join in celebrating with your family and mine!


January 23–National Pie Day

February 20–National Cherry Pie Day

March 2–National Banana Cream Pie Day

April 28–National Blueberry Pie Day

May 13–National Apple Pie Day

June 9–National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day

July 12–National Pecan Pie Day

August 18–National Ice Cream Pie Day

August 24–National Peach Pie Day

September 28–National Strawberry Cream Pie Day

October 23–National Boston Cream Pie

November 27–National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

December 25–National Pumpkin Pie Day


Now you know I love to celebrate family. Maybe I will pick a year to celebrate family with State Food Symbols next. 

Celebrate Family with 15 National Holidays

I am amazed at the number of yearly holidays that I have never heard of. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? For instance, you can celebrate “Name Your Car Day” in October or “Lumpy Rug Day” in May. It actually takes an act of Congress to create a National Day like the “National High Five Day” in April and the “National Play-doh Day” in September. Maybe you want to “create a day” of your own; if so, click here to learn how. In the meantime, why not take a few of these “special holidays” and use them to celebrate your family. To get you started, I have listed a few of my favorite days below. Check them out–most of them need no explanation. You can design your own family celebration for the ones that interest you.  Be creative and have fun celebrating family! And, share your fun celebration ideas with us at HonorGraceCelebrate in the comment section below or at our CelebrateFamilyTraditions Page on FaceBook. We’d love to hear from you!


January 12—National Hugging Day. Share a hug with your family. Better yet, give them an oxytocin hug

February 7th—National Send a Card To a Friend Day.
I know, we could text, email, Skype, facetime…but, who doesn’t love to get a tangible card in snail mail.  Send a card to your spouse and kids today and watch their faces glow as they open them up!

March 14—Pi Day.
I don’t know…it’s just a fun day. Enjoy some math together (really?) or go get a pie and eat it. You can figure out the area of the pie while you eat it (Area= [pi] r2).

March 30—Take a Walk in the Park Day.
This is a wonderful day and activity for those with Quality Time as their love language

April 2—National Reconciliation Day.
Bring the family together today. Forgive, be forgiven, and reconcile your relationship. Generations will thank you.

May 14—National Dance Like a Chicken Day.
Everyone knows the Chicken Dance…and who doesn’t have fun dancing the Chicken Dance. So, put on the music or the YouTube and dance the Chicken Dance with your family. Why wait for a wedding? Do it today!

June 6—National Drive in Movie Day.
Go to a drive in movie. Get some popcorn, a drink and enjoy the movie.

July 3—Compliment Your Mirror Day.
Why not? “Mirrors are people, too.” Or, sneak in and put a post-it word of encouragement or compliment on your spouse’s mirror or kid’s mirror. They’ll read it when they look in the mirror…complimenting the mirror.

August 8—Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.
This is a great family activity. Pick out some neighbors. Bag up a couple zucchini. Sneak onto their porch, put the bag just outside the door, ring the bell and run. Watch from a distance to see their reaction. Your kids will love the fun.

–first Sunday after Labor Day—National Grandparents Day. Grandparents can play a huge role in your children’s lives. Celebrate their involvement today. For all you grandparents, check out this resource: Extreme Grandparenting.

October –
first full weekend—National Story Tellers Weekend. Make up a few stories of your own this weekend.

November—National Family Week
starts the Sunday before Thanksgiving. A whole week to celebrate family. Take advantage of the opportunity to creatively celebrate your family.

3rd Saturday—National Day of Play. The family that plays together stays together. Need we say more?

November 27—National Day of Listening.
What’d you say?  Just joking. You get the idea.

December 25—Christmas
of course. Is there any better and more meaningful family holiday? Remember God’s generosity, share your generosity, and celebrate. 

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day we remember those who currently serve, and have served, in the military to protect our freedom. Each year I seem to grow more grateful for the sacrifices military men and women have made to grant us the freedom to raise our families in peace. Benjamin Disraeli once said that “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” We enjoy a wonderful inheritance of freedom passed on through great sacrifices. We have the responsibility to follow the example of those heroes who helped make that inheritance possible…the responsibility to live a life that keeps freedom strong. In a way, we all need to live the life of a hero—a life that passes that legacy of freedom and example on to our children and our grandchildren; a life that gives our children a great name and a great inheritance; a life that accepts the responsibility that promotes freedom. Today, as we enjoy our families, take a moment to watch this Memorial Day Tribute entitled We Gave Our All—remember those who have made great sacrifices so we can celebrate with our families in peace, without fear. And, contemplate how you can pass this legacy along to your children and your grandchildren.

Celebrate Lent As A Family

Lent begins this week. The observance of Lent reminds us to prepare our lives for the coming Christ. Traditionally, people observe Lent by practicing some sort of fasting (giving something up), generous compassion toward others (justice), and prayer (communion with God). To me, this sounds like a great opportunity to practice grace in our family as well as in the world at large. Grace begins with giving others the gift of acceptance. It builds to giving to others, and culminates in giving ourselves up for the benefit of others. What better place to learn and practice grace than in our family? With that in mind, I wanted to offer you a calendar of daily ideas for observing Lent with your family. The Family Lent Calendar focuses on aspects of grace (giving acceptance, giving of ourselves, and self-sacrifice) as we prepare for Easter.

The Family Lent Calendar (like grace) begins with giving up our pride so we can give the gift of unconditional acceptance. As a family, we learn to accept one another just as Christ accepted us (Romans 15:7). Christ accepted us (and even engaged in self-sacrifice for us) while we were still helpless disappointments who engaged in activities that set us at enmity with Him (Romans 5:6-10). Don’t get me wrong, He still convicts us of wrong behavior and disciplines us. However, in the midst of that teaching, conviction, and discipline He accepts us. He continues to come alongside of us and show us kindness. Since we have experienced Christ’s acceptance, we practice accepting one another. Family offers a great training ground for this type of unconditional acceptance. In fact, if we cannot learn to accept our family, how can we accept those outside of our family? For this reason, the Family Lent Calendar begins with accepting one another.

Acceptance sets the stage for grace, but grace quickly moves to giving, especially giving of ourselves. As a result, the Family Lent Calendar includes giving our time, attention, and energy to one another. Family helps us learn to generously give our full attention to others without distraction or selfish motive. We learn to give the energy necessary to share the burden of sorrowful emotions and the celebration of joyful emotions within the family. Family provides us the opportunity to invest our time and energy in sharing accountability, forgiveness, and deep connection.

Grace not involves giving of ourselves, it also includes giving ourselves up. Self-sacrifice is the pinnacle of grace. Each time we graciously give of ourselves, we practice some level of self-denial. I sacrifice “my desires” to benefit “us” as a family. I give up “my time” in order to invest that time in “our” family. I give up some of “my availability” to sports games, work, or music in order to remain available to “our” family. Studies suggest that families that willingly sacrifice for one another grow more intimate, share more joy, and experience more long-term stability. A level of self-denial contributes to healthy family life. The Family Lent Calendar makes several suggestions to help you offer this level of grace to one another in the family.

I hope you will review the Family Lent Calendar. Even if you do not use the whole calendar, consider the ideas on the calendar and implement some in your family this Easter season. As you do, you will prepare yourself and your family for Easter by sharing grace—acceptance, generous giving, and self-denial.

Start a Revolution for Valentine’s Day!

“You say you want a revolution, well, you know…we all want to change the world.”–The Beatles
I have an idea…a revolutionary idea. It is not a new idea. On the contrary, it is an ancient idea written to the Ephesians some 2000 years ago by Paul, a wise Jewish evangelist. His words of love are revolutionary, even today. Implementing his ideas this month will enhance your Valentine’s Day as they revolutionize your relationship with your spouse. Even more, I believe that implementing these words in our homes will spark a revolution that will not only change our families but the world. Yes, this revolution does begin at home. It begins with a personal change in how I respond to my family. This revolution has several components; but I only want to speak of one today. This first component begins the revolution; and it sounds…well, rather revolutionary by today’s standards. Let me explain.
We begin a revolution to change the world by surrendering to the influence of our spouse. You heard it right–give up your individual rights and entitlements and accept the influence of your spouse. Surprisingly, a compliment under this revolutionary love will sound like this: “You are a wonderfully submissive person” or “I really admire how you let your spouse influence your decisions.” I know that goes against the grain of our society, but it is supposed to be revolutionary. It even goes against the grain of our personal sense of entitlement. But, this attitude of surrender and submission can change your family for the better! When we accept the influence of our spouse (and even our family), we remain open to them. We voluntarily and gracefully keep an attitude of cooperation in the forefront of our mind. We constantly look for ways to surrender our personal desires to satisfy their desires. We accept their ideas and opinions. We listen closely, looking for areas of compromise and areas in which we can surrender our rights for them. We constantly seek to lift them above us in having needs met. We become their servant. This revolutionary concept—submission—begins the revolution!
To accept the influence of our spouse and family may be as simple as changing how we squeeze the toothpaste or hang the roll of toilet paper. It may prove as simple as whether we leave the toilet seat up or down—submitting our desire to our spouse’s desire. However, it can also become more complex when we discuss issues like where to go for vacation, where to live, or what job to take. In these complex areas, we will have to open up to our family, listen carefully to their words, understand the emotion behind those words, and value them enough to accept their opinion. To accept the influence of our spouse and family means that we allow their opinion to influence our decision. It all sounds great, life changing…but challenging to accomplish. Still, “you say you want a revolution….” And so it begins!

Carry the Beauty of Christmas into Next Year!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, joy, and peace. Many people enjoyed receiving presents during the Christmas season…I know I did. Even more, I enjoyed giving presents to others. I love to see peoples’ faces light up in response to a well-chosen gift. But, Christmas is more than merely exchanging material gifts. Christmas commemorates and celebrates God’s gift of His Son, Emmanuel—a gift that humbly reveals God to us. I find it amazing that God, the All-Knowing All-Powerful Creator, did not reveal Himself as the Majestic King of Heaven, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, or a Conquering Warrior, but as a servant, born a Baby in humble circumstances. That Baby, God Incarnate, grew to become a humble Servant. Jesus, God’s gift to us, “made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…” when He came to earth. We celebrate Christmas because on that first Christmas day God gave us a gift—Jesus, His humble servant. Jesus came into the world to humbly serve mankind (Mark 10:45) and spent a lifetime doing so. We can follow Jesus example of serving as we start a new year; remembering that, in God’s eyes, the humble actions of a servant are acts of beauty and love. In His Kingdom, acts of service represent true greatness. They reflect His image. Our acts of service, like those of Jesus, humbly reveal God to the world.
We can carry the true beauty of Christmas into the next year by continuing to reveal the beauty and love of God to our family and neighbors through humble acts of service. By serving others, we reflect the servant nature of the Christ whose birth we celebrated on Christmas day. We reveal the God who made Christmas possible. We reflect the image in which God created us. So, how can we serve others this year?
     ·         First, serve your family. Serve your family breakfast in bed. Serve your family by taking over a family member’s chore for a day. (As I write this, my daughter—who had her wisdom teeth pulled earlier today—asked, through swollen cheeks and a “pain-medication-induced-confusion,” if I would pour her a drink. How could I say no?)

·         Buy presents for a less fortunate family or for children in an orphanage or other type of residential placement.

·         Help serve food at local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
·         Take a plate of cookies to shut-ins or a local nursing home.

·         Visit with the elderly—play games with them and sing some songs.

·         Arrange to visit children in a local children’s hospital.

·         Participate with a well-known organization that serves those less fortunate. Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child, or Toys for Tots are organizations that help provide Christmas presents for needy children and families. Compassion and World Vision are two organizations that help provide support to needy families throughout the year.

·         Take an inventory of any extra coats, boots, clothes and toys in your house. Gather them up and take them to a local facility that serves the needy.

·         Deliver homemade bake treats for local firemen, policemen, emergency response crews, nurses.
The Spirit of Christmas is more than just the exchanging of gifts. The Spirit of Christmas involves the giving of ourselves in service to others, just like Christ served us by giving Himself to us in obedience to His Father. As I write this blog, I realize the need to remind myself of this message more than anyone else. In fact, I need to hear the words that a Storyteller once used to end a great story of serving. After telling of a man who served with all he had, the Storyteller tells His audience to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). Will you join me?

Christmas Spirit? Stuck in Gridlock!

I hate driving during the Christmas season. Traffic is terrible. Drivers seem more erratic, less patient, more rude, and in a rush. Every time I leave my house I end up in gridlock. If there is one thing that triggers my impatience (and there is at least one thing), it is traffic. Especially when I’m trying to enjoy the Christmas spirit and all I do is inch through gridlock. I’m afraid I may end up acting like one of those crazy “erratic, less than patient, in a rush” drivers I mentioned earlier.
The other day, as I moved at an unbearable snail’s pace through the shopping wonderland of Christmas, I began to think about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem and inching their way through gridlock in search of a room. The town was crowded, filled to the brim with out-of-towners who had come in for the census. Maybe all kinds of “reunions” and class parties were going on…I don’t know. I do know that Mary was pregnant and ready to give birth to Jesus, her first born son. The town was so crowded that Mary and Joseph couldn’t even find a place to stay. Even a woman in the throes of childbirth could not find a room. Finally, someone gave them permission to stay in a stable. Fighting their way through an impatient crowd, Mary and Joseph entered the stable to find it crowded with animals that belonged to the visitors and guests. Listening to the serenade of noisy animals, the couple quickly set up their home away from home…and soon delivered a Baby.  Jesus was born in that crowded stable and laid in a feeding trough, the closest thing to a crib that Joseph could find. Surrounded by the noise of a crowded city outside and the braying animals inside, Mary and Joseph gazed for the first time into the eyes of their newborn Son. That peaceful gaze did not last long. Shepherds, pushing through the Bethlehem gridlock, burst into the stable to see the Baby. They spoke of angelic visions and told of a huge angel choir that sang “glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, good will to men.” They rambled on with such unbridled enthusiasm that it bordered on hysteria.
In the midst of all this noise and rush, Mary marveled…she “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” As crowds fought for space in the city, and animals mooed and brayed all around, Mary treasured the events. In the middle of that first Christmas gridlock, Mary pondered. Perhaps we need to follow her example by taking time to ponder, even in the midst of our holiday rush…especially in the midst of our holiday rush. Our whole family will witness our pondering and follow our lead. They will ponder with us. Together, our families can ponder the treasure residing in our hearts because of the gift we received on that first Christmas—that gift is our newborn Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us! “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…” In the midst of our pondering, our family will experience the quiet peace of Christmas. Our family will discover the joy found only in the treasure of that little Baby laid in the manger of our noisy hearts. Won’t you join me as we “treasure all these things and ponder them in our hearts?” Have a Peaceful Christmas of pondering.

Priceless Christmas Gifts…Cheap!

I don’t want to say I’m a scrooge, but I do like to find a good deal, especially at Christmas time. In fact, I’d love to get each family member a great gift, one they consider priceless…and I’d like to get it inexpensively. Let me rephrase that: I’d like to get it down right cheap! If you are like me, I have good news. I have found a way to get priceless Christmas gifts on the cheap! How? I discovered it in a study that I reviewed recently (psychology does have life application—who would have thought?). This study suggests that “experiential purchases” produce greater happiness than “material purchases.” Experiential gifts include things like taking someone out to dinner or enjoying a concert together as opposed to material gifts such as a new shirt, a game, or toys. Experiential gifts bring about greater happiness than material gifts because:
     ·         They improve over time. We tend to forget the boring moments of an enjoyable experience and simply recall the fun and memorable highlights. That new sweater, on the other hand, slowly wears out until we throw it away.

·         They take on symbolic meaning. The shirt we buy remains a shirt; but the dinner and movie we enjoy together become symbolic of our relationship and common interests.

·         They outlive any comparison. Those lovely ear rings I bought my wife suddenly seem to appear in everyone’s ears…and some women even have more beautiful ear rings. But, our walk under the starry sky while holding hands remains our personal memory and, as such, is very difficult to compare…or beat.
I know that some of the experiential gifts I mentioned above cost money. But, the study was in the Journal of Consumer Science so they didn’t mention that many experiential gifts can be absolutely free! With this study in mind, maybe we can choose a few of our Christmas gifts from the experiential kind. These gifts can create lifelong memories that grow in value over time. The price for these gifts can range from dinner and a movie to a walk in the park. Whatever the actual price tag, the value remains priceless…and that’s getting a deal for my money! Here are a few ideas for experiential gifts:
    ·         Purchase a gift card for a local theatre. Make the movie contingent on sharing dinner or dessert together either before or after the movie. I know, this one costs some money, but the value far outweighs the price tag!

·         Give the gift of affirmation. Write your family member a blessing. Simply write them a short letter (about 1 page) that identifies three traits you admire in them. For each trait, give an example from the last year that exemplifies that trait. Finish with a statement of your love.
You can also create a homemade coupon book filled with experiential gifts such as:
     ·         The gift of touch by offering twelve coupons for a backrub or massage. That’s one for each month. Then, light some candles, warm up the massage oil, and enjoy time together.

·         The gift of extra hugs. Vary the coupons for a quick hug, an oxytocin hug, or a bear hug.

·         The gift of service. Include coupons that family members can cash in for you to complete their chore, no questions asked. 

·         The gift of quality time. Coupons for quality time can include a walk in the park, a rambling ride to the country, or any other activity you might enjoy together.

·         The gift of a day off—a day off from cooking, cleaning, lawn cutting, driving, whatever. Offer a day off so you can enjoy time together as a family. Let the work go and spend just one day practicing the philosophy of “play first, work later.” Don’t worry, the world will survive and your work will still be there.
Add your own coupons and ideas. Be creative. Have fun. Make it a memorable experience. The memories will bring great joy and grow in value as time passes on…and the relationship you nurture is priceless!
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