Celebrating Holidays with Children

Children love to celebrate holidays.  A holiday adds a little variety to the predictable structure of family life (you know there’s too much variety and not enough predictability when the holidays becomes stressful and children meltdown!).

The variety of a holiday can in turn become part of a child’s predictable structure when it’s repeated year after year and established as a family tradition. 

A holiday is an opportunity to show your children that you love them, that you’re willing to stop being busy to celebrate a moment with them.  It’s a chance to infuse special into everyday life.  And it’s a huge learning opportunity!  God definitely was onto something when He established so many holidays and ceremonies in the Bible and instructed His people, “When your children ask ….”  Holidays are teaching tools.

I think the first step to celebrating a holiday with children (especially young children) is letting go of perfect.  This is not a picture-perfect Pinterest holiday.  This is a holiday for David and Elanor (mainly David at this point!).  Their happiness and learning = success.
St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, but we’re busy tomorrow, so we celebrated it today.  At the library earlier this week, Ben got a children’s book about St. Patrick, and we’ve read it to David a couple times this week.  David loves associating holidays with colors (February was all about red and pink), and when he learned that the colors for St. Patrick’s Day were green and orange, he planned his outfit: orange shirt and green pants.  Never mind that the green pants are a couple inches too short by the end of winter; he is oblivious to that fact.

Elanor of course had to be wearing green, too, and the only outfit that worked was a Pooh pajama sleeper.  Both David and Elanor got a shamrock attached to their outfit.

Tonight we had corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage for dinner, all cooked together in a pot over the stove.  While I was dishing up and Ben was making horseradish sauce, David raided the fridge and put two kinds of juice on the table (as well as chocolate smoothie and strawberry jam).  The smoothie and jam returned quietly to the fridge, but the juice was poured into two cups and that made the meal all the more special, as David took turns drinking from one and then the other.  “It tastes a little bit like a good kind of wine,” he kept saying.  Hmm.

Elanor sat in her highchair devouring little pieces of beef and cabbage as fingerfood, and potatoes mashed with horseradish sauce.  Now that the strict schedule for when each item can be introduced into a baby’s menu is relaxing, we’re being a little more creative, and Elanor will eat practically anything.  So keep trying the horseradish, my girl.

I asked David to tell me a few interesting things he remembered about St. Patrick, but he couldn’t remember anything when prompted, so Ben read the story again and we talked about it together.  St. Patrick had a very exciting life of being captured by pirates, sold in Ireland as a slave, escaping, and then returning to Ireland as a missionary.  We talked about how the 3-leaf shamrock can symbolize the Trinity.  David says, “How can God have Three Persons?”  Good question, my son.

Then Grandma Adams called and David got to tell her all about St. Patrick’s Day with great excitement.

It was all very simple, but it made somebody very happy.  Actually, more than David—it made me and Ben and Elanor pretty happy, too.  I’m already starting to think what family traditions we might establish for Holy Week.


  1. Aww, Lisa. This is so insightful and precious. Thanks to you and Ben for planning and making the holiday special! And I'm glad we got to be a little part of it. Love the pictures. Hope you all like the e-cards today :) The call last night and reading this blog makes me pay attention to a holiday that would have totally passed me by...and...I'm wearing GREEN to work tonight :) Love, Mother

  2. Thanks for writing this. It was interesting. You seem very knowledgeable in your field. India Holidays


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