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The Christmas spirit is alive and well inside your heart.

You have fond memories of family and loved ones gathered around the Christmas tree. As a child this meant memories of loved ones sharing laughter, food, and companionship. It meant a warm house, warm hugs from beloved relatives, and, of course, those golden moments were you were unwrapping gifts.

You remember snowy Christmas scenes and driving to the home of a family member, watching the unfamiliar landscape go past outside the car window. Somehow everyone was in a better mood than they usually were. Long-simmering family feuds were set aside, or hidden from view, as aunts and uncles and grandparents worked together in the kitchen to prepare the meal.

And they shared so much with you. Not just slipping you your favorite food or letting you sneak some ham off the tray. They let you see them once again not as the elders in your family, but as brothers and sisters. You got a chance to hear their stories of when they were your age. Childhood battles, childhood triumphs, common friends and memories, all passed on to you through the magic and togetherness of Christmas.

How can you make this come alive for your children?

Though in popular media Christmas has been reduced to a stereotype of giving gifts and buying the right gift and sneakily returning gifts you didn’t like, but that is not the true spirit of Christmas.

The true spirit of Christmas is family and togetherness. It is about caring and nurturing.

There are lots of ways to make the Christmas spirit come alive for your children and your family. Christmas is a time to appreciate beauty and to celebrate what is unique about your family and friends.

Share a meal together. It does not have to be a large fancy Christmas dinner. Some families don’t even make it at home anymore. The real goal is to be together at the same time around the same table.

Do a special event together at home. Some families have a holiday tradition of watching a favorite movie. For other families this means spending time together listening to Christmas music and decorating the family tree. Planning and doing this together is the most important thing.

Do a special event together away from home. Some families have built a tradition of attending a favorite event, like the lighting of the tree or ice-skating outdoors at a local rink. Others simply gather everyone in the car to go through a beautiful section of town to see the Christmas lights, or walk through events such as the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights, or they drive through Christmas displays like the Land of Illusion Christmas Glow.

Whatever your Christmas tradition is, the most important thing is to do it together.

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