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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

December 22, 2020 - 8:06am --

As we close the year of 2020, I would like to offer the following quote from Edith Lovejoy Pierce who stated, “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.  There’s no denying this year brought challenges that none of us expected.  We’ve all experienced loss in some way or another, loss of routine, vacations, work or even the devastating loss of loved ones.  We’ve been asked to abide by guidance that has been hard and to meet expectations that were not within our usual vision. 

Our Extension Director Dr. Jackie Wilkins shared a message this morning that “growth follows stress”, and that we each have the choice to face the New Year with anticipation or not.  Because each day is a gift, we can look at 2021 as that open book and realize that because of this year, we’ve found ways to adapt, create, and envision ways to enhance our lives. It hasn't always been easy, and goodness knows we are all ready to have some stability in place, but we have survived and now have lessons and stories to share with our families about the pandemic of 2020.

It is within our family that we have traditions and rituals that guide us through these challenging times in life. The family traditions that we practice don’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it’s the time we spend mindfully together.  No phones, or distractions but time talking, laughing and working together.  Traditions help us build commitment to each other, mold our values and share our unconditional love.  Even during these times when we may not be together, the traditions may find new meaning and comfort as they shower us with memories. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

*Give a book on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading to each other

*Pick a favorite board game to play at the end of the day or during a break

*Decorate your home with favorite homemade items (handprints, paper chains, popcorn and cranberries, etc)

*Enjoy driving to see lights and decorations around the community

*Go sledding, ice skating, or out for a hike to enjoy the beauty of winter in nature

*Each family member gets to choose a movie for the family to enjoy during time together

*Enjoy the same recipes for holiday meals or items to give to family and friends

Making some of your gifts can be a fun family tradition if you enjoy being in the kitchen.  When children participate in helping to make the gifts, they feel important and needed along with seeing the joy in giving and not just receiving.  The kitchen is a great way to use many math, reading, and science skills too.  Pick your recipes and make sure you allow time for set up, preparation, and clean up. 

When you are ready to package them, remember the following:

  • Include the recipe with your gift so that the receiver can make sure there are no ingredients that they may be allergic to.  Along with that, if it's a cookie or soup mix for them to prepare, make sure the rest of the directions are available.
  • Include the date you package it so they can make sure to use it in a timely manner.
  • Package the food in a food safe container, such as glass, tin, or items that can be used afterwards.  It’s best not to use plastic items that are single use like lunchmeat containers or margarine tubs.  These are not designed to be more than a one-time use.
  • Think about natural companions to go along with the food gift.  A cookie sheet and spatula may go along with a jar of cookie mix, crackers with the soup mix, or a mug with the hot chocolate mix.

As I close my last column of the year, I’ll encourage you to join me in looking for the good things, to meditate on the positive and to mindfully savor the sights, sounds and flavors of the season.  Happy Holidays from all of us at the Wayne County Extension Office.


Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.

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