At this time of year, I get teased some because, yes, I am a softie, and I love Hallmark and their seasonal shows. When the holidays come, I watch as much of Hallmark as I can. Yes, the plots are usually similar — big city girl or boy goes to their hometown and realizes that that is where they belong and they end up with a hometown person rather than their big city fiance.

But let me share some things that I have learned and have been pondering this year as I watch. There is always some sort of tradition or memory that is brought up in the shows. So, stop and think of being a kid and what you remember most about being with your family. My memories will always go to baking with my mom or dad. Now, my parents taught me to bake and we always made things and gave them away. 

I love to see the faces of people when they received something homemade and the joy they would get from it. To this day, after both my parents have passed away, I still bake and I still give it away. When I show up to a friend’s house with goodies — and they have their favorites, as my trays are the same every year — they get excited and start to hoard their favorite treats on the tray.

So, without my parents passing on their traditions and the joy of it, I probably wouldn’t do things, and I wouldn’t have the joy in my life. Once again, I ask you: What was your favorite childhood tradition with your family and do you continue to do it now? If not, then it is never too late to start doing it. If you don’t have a tradition, then how about starting one with your family?

When starting a new tradition, I would encourage you to do something that comes with service in it. Maybe, when you buy your traditional dinner fixings, you could get extra and invite some individuals who don’t have family here over to eat with you. Or you could get enough to make a second meal and take it to a family that may be struggling so they, too, can have a nice holiday meal.

Whatever you do, be sure to include your kids in it if you have them. Learning the art of giving is what brings joy as we get older. I would always talk with the youths afterward and ask them how they feel and why they think they felt that way, as it will bring more meaning to the experience.

Now, I have talked a lot about families in here, but I want to take a moment and talk about the word family. What does it mean? Well, it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Family is not just mom, dad and kids. It can be a single parent. It can be a couple with no kids or a same sex couple or a single individual. It is your family and you make it up. Whatever the makeup of your family, have fun with your traditions and share them with others as it will make it more memorable.

May this season bring you joy and old and new memories. Oh, and if you enjoy Hallmark seasonal movies, I am there with you and there is no shame.

4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427. You can also check out our web page at 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.