The holiday season is my favorite time of year. If you're like me, you want to establish thousands of timeless traditions for years to come. Put up the lights, shovel some snow, and crank out the carols. Add some stories to this year's festivities and read about my top five Christmas stories and the lessons behind each one. Feel free to sing, dance, or act these out for your children. The more love you show this season, the more they will understand the importance of family time, not only around the holiday season, but every day of the year.
1. The Grinch
Dr. Seuss's classic tale of the grumpy man in the mountain above Whoville will tug at your heart and teach children the true meaning of Christmas. As the Whos in Whoville become caught up in the commercialism of Christmas time, the Grinch hatches a plan to put a reality check on the entire town on Christmas Eve. After stealing all of the town's presents, and before he is about to drop them off the mountain, the Grinch remembers the warmth of young Cindy Lou Who. She teaches him the beauty of love and charity. The happy ending promotes the true meaning behind Christmas: that "maybe Christmas, perhaps, doesn't come from a store."
2. A Christmas Carol
. Mean Mr. Scrooge is a must-read on your list of bedtime or family stories. After living a hard, lonely life wealthy Scrooge is visited by three ghosts and faces the fearful facts about his future. With no close family or friends, Scrooge's visions and encounters with the Spirits remind him of the person he once was and the person he still can be. Life lesson? "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future."
3. The Polar Express
Yes, watch the movie, but don't forget to read the book and admire the beautiful artwork. Make one of those cardboard trains if you're feeling adventurous! The Polar Express takes you on a midnight train ride filled with children heading towards the North Pole. Santa gives the first gift of Christmas - a silver bell - to a young boy, who learns how to believe. This is a heartwarming movie with a sweet lesson on the magic of Christmas.
4. Jingle All the Way
Yes, we know it may seem out of place, and Arnold isn't exactly magical, but this Christmas lesson is for parents. Whether it's Turbo Man, Barbie, or Mr. Potato Head, plan ahead and don't be the frantic fool searching seven stores on Christmas Eve.
5. The Nativity
. Perhaps the most meaningful story, it's the reason we celebrate Christmas. Retell the story of Mary and Joseph in your home, or act it out with each child taking a part. This lesson is one I am still learning. It's a lesson of ultimate love, gratitude, humility, and sacrifice.
Start a new tradition this year as you trifle through the treats and tinsel. Grab some of these stories and read along with your child as you soak up the vacation days December offers. This holiday is always so much more than it seems, so make this year your most meaningful yet. Try to find love in everything you do.