Holiday Traditions keep us close and connected to our past.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”— Vincent Van Gogh

With the beauty of fall around us, many of us relish the crisp fall air, the annual trip to the pumpkin patch, and the return of pumpkin spice lattes (or not). Cozy sweaters, special holiday foods, get-togethers, and family holiday traditions are earmarks of the fall season, as are two of the most loved holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Thanksgiving’s crisp fall memories blend with those of cheery lights and the snowy days of Christmas.

Here is a quick look at some of the most loved traditions of this holiday-filled season.

Thanksgiving Breakfast

We’re all for this one. Thanksgiving meals can be late in the day. So why not have a pajama-wearing, indulgent breakfast of waffles or pancakes? If the thought of adding carbs to all those dinnertime carbs sounds like more than you can handle, then kick off the festive day with a nice keto or low-carb breakfast rich in protein that will help you ease into the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie later on. We’re drooling just thinking about it!

Thanksgiving Nature Walk

This pairs nicely with the idea above. Go on an early morning walk in nature or around the beautiful sites and lights of Millennium Park. A brisk walk will let you enjoy those yummy Thanksgiving pies and Christmas cookies with more vigor and less regret! Get some peace and quiet as a side benefit. It’s always good to connect with yourself before connecting with a house full of company!

Writing Thanks on a Tablecloth (or going around in a circle)

It’s Thanksgiving, so remember to be thankful. Your family can go around in a circle and share one thing you’re each thankful for. This will be one of the simplest holiday traditions for the family that will touch hearts.

We’re also charmed by the idea of putting butcher paper on the table and having everybody write it out. The table cloth idea lets some people express themselves with more ease, and can be a great thing to store away to look at during future Thanksgivings. If you don’t want any spilled cranberry sauce mixing with your memories, you could spread the butcher paper on a nearby counter or table or simply remove it before eating.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Palmer House Hilton

If you’re near the Palmer House Hilton, you might want to indulge in one of the most extravagant and memorable Thanksgiving meals you’ll never forget. Give Mom or Dad a break from cooking and treat the family to an evening of fine dining with the perfect mix of a rustic feel and elegance. This is also a great idea for young couples or singles who feel far away from home.

Millennium Park Tree Lighting as one of your family holiday traditions

We’re proud to host the annual Chicago tree lighting. The lighting of the Chicago Christmas tree heralds in the Christmas season. Residents of the Chicago Loop and surrounding areas submit entries, and one special tree is chosen. The tree must be 55 feet tall to be considered.

Millennium Park Ice Skating

You don’t want to miss the snow shaker charm of ice skating at Millennium Park. Open from November through March, this magical family outdoor skating rink holds special charm during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. It attracts more than 100,000 skaters each year, so go earlier in the evening if you want it to be just the family on ice. If you want to partake in the holiday joy with a crowd, evenings are a particularly festive time.

While you skate beneath the starry sky, you’ll be enchanted by the twinkling lights of Millennium Park, the Chicago skyline, and the monumental 55-foot Chicago Christmas tree.

If you’re looking to start magical family holiday traditions, this is a must do!

Christmas Music

For some, Christmas music is the most cherished part of the holidays, especially if there are musical or religious roots. The music is intertwined with every part of celebrating Christmas, and  for some, the music starts early, either after, on, or before Thanksgiving!

But for many families, Christmas music is truly special. There’s nothing quite like the joy, warmth, and light expressed in the folksy and religious Christmas songs, some of which have been kept alive for almost a thousand years.

Family, Family, Family Time (Near and Remote)

What are the holidays without family? In the busyness of modern life, the holidays are a special time to hold our loved ones close. Life goes by too quickly, and holiday traditions with family allow us to stop, rest, and cherish moments with our children before they grow up or with our parents before they age.

Even for those who are far away from family, modern technology allows us to Skype, Facetime, and otherwise connect remotely. Grandparents are especially grateful to get a glimpse of grandkids that are growing up too fast in real-time. Remember to set aside time to connect to family members that are too far away to visit.

Many families also schedule dental appointments over holiday breaks. This is a great tradition to have. Remember to schedule early, so you can get ahead of the crowd.

Reading the Christmas Story

For many, reading the Christmas story in the Bible is a cherished way to connect with the meaning of Christmas. Though the birth of Jesus as a part of Christmas post-dates the earliest traditions of Christmas, it has become completely interwoven in the Western holiday traditions for hundreds of years.

Advent Calendar as part of holiday traditions for families with kids

The Advent calendar is another activity for traditional celebrators and is a fun and visual way to extend the celebration of what many consider to be the true meaning of Christmas. It’s especially valued in homes with young children.

Christmas Cookies

If pies belong squarely in the middle of the Thanksgiving table, cookies seem to be the sweet hallmark of Christmas. Trees, Wisemen, snowmen, reindeer—all the most beloved icons of Christmas—are made into sugar cookies and covered with red and green decorations. There are also other beautiful Swiss and German cookies, like Zinsterne and pinwheels.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? With all those high-carb foods, we think going to the dentist together should be a new family tradition! For those “small traditions” (aka habits), make sure you take care of your oral health by brushing and flossing twice (or three times) a day to keep your teeth and gums healthy between all those holiday snacks!