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Slowing Down Makes Christmas Memorable

This is a guest post by Jason Bruce. Jason is the social media specialist for the Colson Center and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two kids. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonBruce) and visit his blog The Living Rice. Jason writes this post for NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas." If you are interested in writing for us, send an email.

The Christmas season becomes more hectic as one becomes an adult and a parent. That’s why memories of my childhood always come to my mind first when I reflect on my most memorable Christmases.

hectic christmas

I grew up in the Philippines and Christmas season there starts as early as September 1st and ends on the first Sunday of January- making the Filipino Christmas celebration the longest in the world.

I always remember having fun doing my “Christmas round” every Christmas day. It is when I wear my best clothes and visit nearby aunts, uncles, godmothers and godfathers and collect Christmas gifts from them. I would enjoy coming home with a pile of gifts and some cash in my pocket and comparing it with how much my siblings received.

With my own family, we make the season memorable by having the longest Christmas season we can at home. We start putting up Christmas decorations and playing Christmas music sometime mid- to late November and take it all down in January. We let our two kids do simple community activities through our local church during this season in hopes that they understand Christmas is not all about themselves and gifts.

To share some nostalgia, we pop some popcorn and bake Christmas cookies. We usually watch our favorite holiday movies together like A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life and my wife’s favorite, While You Were Sleeping.

Christmas is all about family closeness and the birth of Christ. These are two important aspects my wife and I hope will be instilled in our children. Spending Christmas eve and Christmas day with extended family members is a priority as well as attending church and re-telling the Nativity story at bed time.

These are straight-forward demonstrations that share the values we want our kids to remember—not only during Christmas—but all year round. Slowing down with my kids and engaging them in serious conversations about Christmas and it’s true meaning is always a reason to celebrate in our home. Remember this mom and dad, the most memorable Christmas probably won't be the most hectic one—it'll be the one where you slowed down!

Join in and share your most memorable holiday by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

photo credit: MSVG

5 Ways to Raise Thankful Children

thankfulNational Fatherhood Initiative's Vincent DiCaro was recently featured on CNN for writing "5 Ways to Raise Thankful Children."

Vince writes about the first time he heard his young son say "Thank you, daddy" and gives parents five ways to raise thankful children. He says, "I can say with confidence that thankfulness does not come naturally to children, mine included." But Vince continues, "Parenting, like having a good jump shot, is a skill that can be learned through the right techniques and practice."

There are things you can do to help cultivate thankfulness in your children. Read "5 Ways to Raise Thankful Children" and take comfort that if you make habits out of these guidelines, you will start to see positive results in your children. And for that, you will most certainly be thankful.

Visit our "Thanks, Dad!" page for more on how you can connect with your family and other dads just like you! Don't forget to say, "Thanks, Dad!" by recording a video, sharing a picture or writing a short note commenting on this blog, Facebook or on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

photo credit: cheerytomato

Celebrating Independence Day with Your Kids

us flagSwimming, barbeque and a day off work…sounds like freedom to me. But, in the excitement of activities, it's easy to forget the history and purpose of Independence Day. I’ll get to some ideas for celebrating, but first, some history so you can sound smart at the family get-together.

John Adams believed July 2nd was the correct date to celebrate the birth of American independence. He would decline invitations to July 4th events in protest (see History). Adams had an argument, because on July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of resolution for independence.

Realizing that once you read “Continental Congress” and “resolution” in the last paragraph that I lost most of you, I have a more history for you history buffs. It was July 2nd that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail and explained that the day, "will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival" and the celebration should have "Pomp and Parade...Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other." Can you say “freedom?”

Two days later on July 4th, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Even though the vote for actual independence was on July 2nd, the 4th became the day celebrated as the birth of American independence. If you’re like me, barbeque is barbeque; I’ll eat it on the 2nd and the 4th to commemorate this special event.

The Fourth of July was originally celebrated with concerts, parades, firing of cannons and speeches. By late 19th century, people started celebrating with outdoor activities, family time, fireworks and barbeques. Considering I kept your attention with all this historical trivia, here are a few ways you can celebrate this holiday with your family:

Independence Day Ideas for Your Family:

1)   Teach Your Kids: For older kids, The History Channel has an entire week dedicated to the “Founding Fathers” for learning about the history and celebration of Independence Day.Consider reading the Declaration of Independence with your teenager. They may complain, but it’s short and only one of the greatest documents ever written. For younger kids, have them draw and color the American flag or sing along to “The Star-Spangled Banner." Perhaps your kids like face paint as much as mine, paint the flag on their cheeks or for girls, paint their nails in red, white and blue (can you tell I have daughters?!).

2)   Get Patriotic with Food:  Let your kids help you make Independence Day themed food like American Flag Cake and Patriotic Pops.

3)   Get Involved with Your Community:  It’s a great time to get to know your neighbors. Attend a festival or parade and grill out with friends.

4)   Remember the Troops:  Write a letter or send a care package to a deployed service member to let them know you appreciate their service.

How are you celebrating Independence Day?


photo credit: *Micky

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