We have a tradition we have been doing in our family for more the 20 years called,"Holiday Chains" and recently, "Debt Chains." The "Chains" are interlocking rings (strips glued end-to-end to make a "band") of construction paper, but more on this below. Perhaps you already do something like this too. As I said, this is a "family" tradition (event), so I hope your "family" can enjoy it too, even if your "family" only consists of yourself and your puppy!
Don't expect the puppy to be too impressed.
Here is the recipe for "Holiday Chains"
- Make sure you have plenty of...
- Construction paper (it's cheap enough to get a bunch of it in all colors)
- Plenty of good-quality all-purpose glue sticks are best. You don't want your chain crumbling!
- Plenty of scissors for everyone and be safe! Match the scissors to the responsibility level of the participants and no fair giving the Kindergarten scissors to Dad!
- Rulers or yard (meter) sticks to make straight strips, but our method is to just fold the paper to create cut lines.
- Since this is a family event, make sure there are snacks and drinks to add to the fun. This does not have to be expensive. In some lean times during months of unemployment my wife served popcorn and ice water with a squeeze of lemon or lime (our choice)!
- Good music everyone can enjoy will generally add to the mood too, but is not necessary.
- Pick a time when all or most family members can be present many days before the intended holiday.
- Once everyone is there, allow a vote on what colors to use. Just because it is Xmas doesn't mean you have to use red and green, but it may require some explanation to friends and extended family.
- Give everyone a "job" so no one gets left out and it makes the little ones feel important!
- Make lines with the ruler, etc. or fold the paper to make the cut lines.
- Cut the pages in strips.
- Someone responsible should make sure the agreed-upon correct color sequence is being used.
- Glue the ends of one strip together to make a link after passing it through the last link.
- Continue until all the links are connected into a chain.
- Ceremoniously parade to the location where it is to be displayed.
- Now the [Fill-in-the-Blank] Chain is in place, assemble the family at whatever time is best each day and tear a link from the end of the chain. The little ones love this as much as making it!
Now, that takes care of the "Holiday Chain," but what about the "Debt Chain?"
Essentially do the same thing, except for four differences...
- Use black construction paper. This is a good way to send a non-verbal message to the younglings... and maybe the not-so-younglings too?
- Use a quantitative amount of rings. Instead of days, make the links equate to some dollar amount. There is no need to expose the amount your indebtedness to your children, visiting neighbors or the world. Just because you are $83,000 in the hole does not mean you have to put 83 links in the chain. Pick some factor and keep it to yourself. In our example you might only use 41 links (we're fudging a bit here) and tear one off when you pay down $3,000 the first time. Each time after only pay down $2,000 and tear away. Keep the numbers to yourself, but let everyone participate. Announce you get to tear another link off the chain and let a "volunteer" do the tearing. I recommend hanging this along the ceiling next to a wall in the less-traveled part of your home, maybe even in a closet.
- The third, and probably the toughest part (let's face it, debt is no fun) is to add links when you have to incur more debt (refrigerators do break down). You can do this secretly, if you want, but you will be surprised how much you will be respected if the children see your consistency. Again, keep the details to yourself. Keep paying down and tearing away until you can celebrate being debt-free.
- Given you will probably want to celebrate this landmark, I suggest adding at least one ring to the total length with a reward written on it. The extra ring will allow the usual monthly payments to be put into savings until you have $2,000 (in my example) to spend on your reward. Maybe it will be a weekend trip to the mountains, beach, desert(?) or just an all-you-can-eat night at the family's favorite expensive restaurant. This is why it is important to add links if you incur more debt. It will protect the best ring of all... the last one!
Ok, there you have it... CodeTRUCKER's Famous Holiday and Debt Chains (patents pending)
I hope this tradition will grace your home and family life the way it has for ours for the last two decades!