My family loves holiday traditions, especially my daughter. I really have to be careful about doing anything more than 2 years in a row lest we add another new family tradition. One of our family traditions started by accident; it was really an attempt at self preservation.
If you have ever gone on a family vacation with young children, you know that it doesn’t take long for children to figure out what a souvenir shop is! It seemed like everywhere we went they wanted a souvenir. As a way to reign in the, begging and pleading at each and every tourist stop, we came up with a plan. At the beginning of the trip we gave each child $20. We explained that this was their souvenir money to spend on whatever they wanted. BUT WAIT! As an added bonus, they could each pick out a Christmas ornament that somehow related to our vacation which we would pay for. Wow! What a deal! You obviously have to start this when they are young. And believe me, no matter what time of year you go on vacation, you can always find a Christmas ornament. When we decorated our Christmas tree later in the year, the last ornaments to go up were our vacation ornaments. We made sure to mark the year somewhere on the ornament.
That’s how it all started. What I didn’t realize until we had done this for a few years was that this tradition had other benefits.
First, you would not believe how much time and careful thought a six year old can put into a decision to buy something when he or she knows they have finite funds. The trick to this is to not give in and pay the difference when an item costs “just a little bit more.” Stick to your guns. Yes I know it’s really hard to say no to those great big sad puppy dog eyes. But they figure it out quickly and learn to shop for what they really want. They also learned to bring along some of their allowance money in case they wanted something just a bit more expensive.
Over the years, decorating the Christmas tree became a fun family event. As we pulled out the ornaments of vacations gone buy, we would reminisce about the good times we had on our vacation. This does slow down the amount of time it takes to put up the tree, but it is well worth it.
The day is coming soon when our children will be ready to decorate their own trees. When that time does come, they will get a special box with their vacation ornaments along with the many wonderful memories that go with them.