Unique Christmas Traditions for Your Family

christmas presents

Carolyn Tomlin

Shops overflow with holiday gifts. Carols ring out from every street corner. Bell ringers collect monetary contributions for needy families. Families spend time together. If you’re like many families at Christmas, you continue the same traditions handed down by parents and grandparents. Could your clan honor their history while starting a few new customs?  Perhaps these suggestions will work for you.

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In Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The cover of "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister."

The cover of “The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister.”

With Jan. 27 being set aside for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to share my 2015 Chester County Independent piece on the the importance of the holiday and what we can learn from the tragedy it memorializes.

Jan. 27 has been observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a day when the world pauses and reflects on one of the most horrific times in history. The Holocaust was the annihilation of not only six million European Jews, but untold millions of eastern Europeans –including those with mental or physical handicaps, religious groups and others by the Nazi regime.

In reading memoirs and biographies of survivors and children of survivors, each person, basically offer this advice: “Always remember the Holocaust: Never forget. Tell children and young people to never forget this horrible time in history.” This day is set aside to urge every nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and to encourage the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. This day, Jan. 27, 1945, was when Auschwitz-Birkerau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

As Germany’s Hitler conquered country after country, conditions became unbearable. Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, whose memoir The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, represents one family’s plight. Continue reading

Fall activities abound for young families

veronica-matthew

In this piece for the Chester County Independent, I give some fun ideas for autumn activities with your family:

It is that magical time between summer and winter when the sky is the color of a robin’s egg and leaves range in shades of orange, brown, red and crimson. Darkness comes early and nights have a nip in the air—but days remain sunny and somewhat warm. During this brief season, plan time for family activities. Use these suggestions for building family relationships and making memories for your clan.

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Remembering the Revival

TN Home and Farm - Revival

I recall memories of my childhood in this Tennessee Home & Farm piece:

It wasn’t Mayberry. But it was a small West Tennessee community that resembled the famous television series. Parents raised their children by the Bible and how Andy Griffith raised Opie. It was a time when simple pleasures consisted of family and friends being together. People worked hard, played hard, and the school and church held the community together.

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Honoring the Spirit of Christmas

poinsetta

The poinsettia plant is symbolic with the spirit of Christmas.

My latest yuletide piece for the Chester County Independent:

There is something about the holiday season that brings out the best in people. When we bump into shoppers in crowded stores, we smile, say “excuse me” and allow them to move ahead. Our thoughts turn to helping the homeless and collecting food boxes for those who are in need. Perhaps an organization or church adopts a child for Christmas that otherwise would never receive gifts. Yes, Christmas is a time of year when we think of sharing material possessions as well as our time.

That baby named Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago is as real today as when the shepherds saw the star and came to worship him.

This Christmas think of ways your family can put joy into making this holiday season one of your best. Would it not be wonderful if your family could look back and say, “You know, Christmas 2015 was one I’ll always remember?” Could these ideas make that happen?

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Christmas Memories

Holly Tree Gap Road

Holly Tree Gap Road

Early in December, I knew the Christmas holidays were drawing near, as events started happening in our rural West Tennessee community.

Even as a 6-year-old, I felt the surge of excitement taking place among our parents and relatives. Probably the first hint was the Christmas catalog that arrived from Sears, Roebuck & Company. Page after page of wonderful toys invaded my mind, causing me to dream visions of ownership.

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Simplifying Thanksgiving Traditions

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner (Photo by Ian Freimuth)

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner (Photo by Ian Freimuth)

In this article for the Chester County Independent, I give some tips on how to change up your Thanksgiving plans:

As we grow older, we want to continue holiday traditions we have honored in the past. But with down-sizing to a smaller home or apartment, there is not space to feed or seat several generations of family or friends. However, that does not mean seniors should cancel celebrations or delete holiday events.

Here are some suggestions for keeping Thanksgiving customs while simplifying the usual rituals.

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What Children Need from a Father

Mississippi Christian Living

The following is an excerpt from my Mississippi Christian Living article “What Children Need from a Father” :

Near a window of our home, I watched as a pair of gray Mockingbirds built a nest in a willow tree. For several days they gathered bits of straw, tiny twigs, and even a length of red yarn found in the yard. When time came for the female to lay eggs and stay on the nest, the male brought her tasty insects. But other than food, he sung to her. Long into the night, he serenaded her with a wide repertoire of melodies. Later when the three fledglings hatched, the parents provided small tidbits of worms. And during a heavy rain they covered the babies with their wings.

Watching, I was reminded of how both mothers and fathers care for their young. As the child grows and develops, “needs” will change. However, some basic requirements remain the same until the child grows into an adult.

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LET’S GET REAL—Rules for Grandparents Who Overspend

Mississippi Christian Living

An excerpt from my Mississippi Christian Living article on grandparents who overspend on their grandchildren:

Five-year-old “Stephen” couldn’t wait until his next birthday. And who could blame him? On his fifth special day, his grandparents gave him a pony. On the fourth birthday, it was an above the ground swimming pool.

Rolling her eyes, Stephen’s mother responded, “This has to stop. Every year the presents become more extravagant. I can’t begin to imagine what they’ll give for his 16th birthday!” If you’re like this family, you certainly don’t want hurt feeling. And, they’re glad the grandparents want to provide gifts and spend time with their son, as they love him so much.  Continue reading

For Parents Only: Teaching Your Child Through Play

(Guilherme Jofili / Flickr)

(Guilherme Jofili / Flickr)

Here’s a piece I wrote for Earlychildhood News on child development through play:

During the early stages of our country, child’s play was considered a waste of time. Little thought was given to the importance that play contributed to the developing child. For the last few decades educators and researchers have been fascinated with how children play. Parten’s Play Theory of 1932, Piaget of 1962 and Piaget and Inhelder of 1969 share different opinions, yet hold to common truths. Those who study the developmentally appropriate activities of children realize that play should begin early in life. And parents must provide opportunities for children to play and to learn from observations and actions as well as from being told.

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