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Archive | Seasonal

Tips for enjoying a healthier holiday 


(Family Features)

The holidays bring lights, cheer, TV specials and treats – plenty of them. While it is tempting to eat all that gets placed in front of you, it isn’t worth the extra pounds you may gain during the holidays.

Here are some tips to balance healthy living with enjoying the holiday spirit:

Get in a festive mood with wintry activities. Bring the holidays to life by planning some fun seasonal activities with loved ones, such as ice skating, sledding, going to a tree farm to pick your tree, or decorating for the holidays. You will create some great memories with your favorite people, which is what the season is all about.

Share the joy. Sharing is encouraged when it comes to holiday deliveries loaded with carb-filled goodies. Instead of keeping temptations around your house, share them with your neighbors or coworkers along with a holiday card to spread the cheer.

Don’t drink your carbs. If you’re not careful with loaded winter beverages, you could derail your healthy eating efforts. Instead of hot chocolate, opt for peppermint tea or add peppermint extract to your coffee for some holiday flavor. This also applies to alcohol consumption – red wine or spirits with low-glycemic mixers are best.

Bake yummy low-carb goodies. This is a good approach both for sweets around the house and for attending a party. Your friends and family will love your thoughtful contribution and you get to enjoy a healthier holiday treat.

For example, bake a classic like the Holiday Cookies below from www.Atkins.com, where you can find many low-carb versions of your favorite holiday treats.

Holiday Cookies

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Makes: 24 servings

1 cup sifted soy flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

3 tablespoons granular sugar substitute (Sucralose)

4 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In food processor, pulse soy flour, baking soda, sugar substitute, cream cheese and butter for 30 seconds, until texture resembles coarse meal.

In mall bowl, mix together sour cream, egg and vanilla extract. Add sour cream mixture to soy mix mixture and pulse until just-combined, about 15 seconds. Chill in freezer 10 minutes or until firm.

Roll dough out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper to 1/8 thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out dough in desired shapes. Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet and bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Nutritional information per serving: Net carbs: 1.4 g; Fiber: 0.3 g; Protein: 1.8 g; Fat: 3.7 g; Calories: 46.

Posted in Hometown Holidays, RecipesComments Off on Tips for enjoying a healthier holiday 

Pop Up Wintertime Fun

Red and green sprinkles, chocolate and popcorn make a happy winter treat.

Red and green sprinkles, chocolate and popcorn make a happy winter treat.

(NAPS)—Often defined as a time of quiet hibernation, winter is, in fact, one of the busiest times of the year. Consider the numerous celebratory occasions that begin with the harvest and continue on through the holidays and beyond, not to mention all the fun and frosty get-togethers prompted by skiing, skating and sledding.

Keep popcorn on hand and you’re only minutes away from a satisfying and healthful treat. When friends drop in or as you make your way through neighborhood parties, pop up some wintertime fun by making these simple and delicious popcorn treats.

The following recipes vary a basic method: melt chocolate, drizzle over popcorn and mix in flavorings or sprinkles. You can easily adapt these for any number of occasions—substitute holiday sprinkles with colors of your favorite Super Bowl team, red for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day and so on. You’ll love having this quick “go-to” in your recipe file.


Easy, Elegant Holiday Popcorn

Yield: 8 cups


8cups popped popcorn

2ounces white chocolate, melted

2ounces dark chocolate, melted

Red and green holiday sprinkles


1.Place popcorn on a large baking sheet. Set aside.

2.Drizzle popcorn with melted white chocolate and melted dark chocolate.

3.Scatter sprinkles over top. Let stand until chocolate is set.

4.Break into clusters if needed. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


White chocolate and peppermint plus popcorn can bring warmth to the coldest night.

White chocolate and peppermint plus popcorn can bring warmth to the coldest night.

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn Bark

Yield: 1 pound


5cups popped popcorn

12ounces white chocolate, melted

1cup crushed hard candy peppermints


1.Cover a baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside.

2.Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.

3.Melt chocolate in a double boiler OR according to package directions.

4.Stir in crushed peppermints after chocolate is melted.

5.Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn mixture and stir to coat.

6.Spread onto prepared pan; allow to cool completely.

7.When chocolate is set, break into chunks for serving.

8.Store in an airtight container at room temperature.



Cranberries & Almond Bark

Omit candy peppermints. Mix 1⁄2 cup dried sweetened cranberries and 1⁄2 cup sliced almonds with the popcorn. Pour chocolate over the mixture after it is melted.

With these, you can create gourmet gifts for friends and neighbors, and munchable snacks for the whole family. You’ll find more creative wintertime recipes at www.popcorn.org.





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Celebrate the joy of Christmas at one of the churches in our community:


Dec. 14, 21, 24:  Solon Center Wesleyan Church invites you to attend our special Sunday Christmas services beginning with a Children’s program, called “What’s in the Manger?” on Sunday, December 14. We’ll continue to celebrate the coming King on Sunday, December 21. Sunday services are at 9:30 & 11:15 am. And finally, a Christmas Eve Candlelight service celebrating the birth of our Savior will be held on Wednesday, December 24 a 6 p.m. Come enjoy carols and a family atmosphere of worship and praise! Please join us! The church is located at 15671 Algoma Avenue. See more about the church online at www.scwchurch.org. 

December 14, 21, 24: Join us at The Springs Church as we celebrate the birth of Jesus with our Advent message series, First Christmas: Stories from the Birth of Christ, on December 14 and 21 at 9:45 and 11:15 a.m. Nursery and Kids church provided for kids up to 6th grade. Then celebrate with us at our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service, December 24, at 7 p.m. Children are invited to wear their pajamas. Feel free to come as you are. Don’t forget to invite your family and your friends, too! The church is located at 135 N. Grant in Cedar Springs. For more information visit our website www.thespringschurch.info or call 616.696.2970. We hope to see you at The Springs this Christmas!

Dec. 14, 24, 25, Jan. 1, 4: Mary Queen of Apostles Catholic Church in Sand Lake will have an intergenerational gathering called “Journey to Bethlehem” on December 14, from 6-7:30 p.m. It is a time filled with Scripture and activity, families are asked to bring a snack to share. Our Christmas Eve/Christmas Mass schedule is Christmas Eve 7:30 p.m.; Midnight Mass and 8 a.m. Mass on Christmas; our New Year Day, Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, Mass is at 9:30 a.m. (Thursday Morning). On Sunday, January 4 at noon, we will have an Epiphany Celebration which includes pageantry, music, potluck and prayer. Please bring a dish to Pass. Regular Sunday Mass Schedule is Saturdays 4 p.m., Sundays 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. May your Advent season be a time of refreshment and your Christmas time be joy-filled. The church is located at 1 W Maple Sand Lake.

December 14, 24: Resurrection Lutheran Church welcomes you on Sunday, December 14, at 9:30 a.m., as the youth of the church perform in a play entitled Christmas Comes To Lickety Split, and as we also sing Christmas carols together. On December 24, at 7:00 p.m., join us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus at a Candlelight Worship Service. We are located at 180 Northland Dr. Sand Lake, Mi. For any questions please call 616-636-5502.

December 21: Grace Evangelical Free Church invites you to our Christmas service on Sunday, December 21, from 10:45 a.m.-noon. Our children will be performing during the morning service. The church is located at 4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford.

December 21: Hillcrest Community Church of God welcomes you on Sunday, December 21, at 10:45 a.m., and on December 24, at 6:30 p.m., to enjoy an Unplugged Christmas.  The cast is trying to put on The Biggest, Brightest Christmas Show Ever, to win a Contest, and the power goes out. Come and see what happens next! Come and sing Christmas Carols, and have hot chocolate, coffee and Christmas goodies. Come and join in on the Celebration of the New Born King! We are located at 5994 18 mile Rd, Cedar Springs, MI. For more information please call 616-696-9333.

December 24: Calvary Assembly of God and Pastor Craig Owens invite you to our annual Candlelight Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m. Hot chocolate, Christmas carols, a special Christmas story for the kids, and a reminder of why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We are located at 810 17 Mile Road (2 miles west of Algoma Avenue). More details on our Facebook page or on our website http://cscalvary.org

December 24: East Nelson United Methodist Church, 9024 – 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, will be having a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 p.m., in celebration of the birth of Jesus. Please join us!

December 24: Celebrate and contemplate the birthday of a King on Christmas Eve, December 24, at 7 p.m., at Courtland-Oakfield UMC, 10295 Myers Lake NE. We’ll lift our voices with the angels and ponder the mystery of God’s grace by candlelight.

December 24:  Please join us at 7 p.m. for a traditional Christmas Eve Worship service with music and Holy Eucharist at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. We are located at 1200 Post Drive NE, Belmont, at the intersection of Post & Pine Island drives, 1/4 mile west of Exit 95 (Belmont) of US Route 131. Visit us online at www.holyspiritbelmont.org or www.facebook.com/holyspiritbelmont.

December 24:  Rockford Springs Community Church invites you to join us for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Wednesday, December 24 at 9:00 p.m. Rejoice at the birth of our Savior with fellow believers! We are located at 5815 -14 Mile Rd NE, Rockford, (2 1/2 miles East of US 131).  For questions, please call 616.696.3656.


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Baby’s First Christmas

Babys1stXMAS-2013We want to give you the opportunity to celebrate your baby’s very first Christmas in a special way. The Cedar Springs POST will be featuring area newborns in “Baby’s First Christmas,” a special feature for babies celebrating their first Christmas.

Photos will be run at no cost to our readers, but space is limited so get your photos in early. Deadline is Monday, December 22 by 5 p.m. and pictures with name and date of birth will appear in the December 24th issue. We cannot guarantee return of photos. Show the community your precious gift!

Photos may be dropped off at the Cedar Springs POST – 36 E. Maple St., or mailed to Baby’s First Christmas, P.O. Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319, or emailed to news@    cedarspringspost.com. Please include baby’s name, and birth date, as well as a contact name and phone number.

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Holiday Shipping 101

Photo courtesy of Daniel Afzal for U.S. Postal Service

Photo courtesy of Daniel Afzal for U.S. Postal Service

(Family Features)

If one of your holiday tasks is shipping gifts to family and friends across the nation, knowing a few tips and tricks will ensure your packages get to them in time for the festivities.

From shipping deadlines to packaging, there are many factors to consider when sending gifts, especially during a busy time like the holiday season. Fortunately, there are dozens of resources available to help make shipping holiday gifts more convenient than ever.

“Priority Mail is a convenient and affordable shipping option for holiday gifts,” said John Budzynski, consumer advocate at the U.S. Postal Service. “It offers features like package redirect, free package pickup and text update alerts.”

Budzynski offers this advice to help make your holiday shipping simple and stress-free.

Take advantage of services that make shipping more convenient. For example, the U.S. Postal Service lets you order free Priority Mail shipping supplies from usps.com and delivers them right to your door – from boxes to envelopes and stickers.

Be informed about policies for handling fragile gifts or items that may be hazardous, such as perfume, cologne and other liquids.

Always include a return address. It tells the shipper where to return the package if it can’t be delivered.

Pack smart. Pick a strong and sturdy box, cushion contents with packing peanuts, newspaper or bubble wrap, and tape it closed with strong packing tape.

Print postage at home using Click-N-Ship from the U.S. Postal Service at usps.com/clicknship. It not only saves time, but money too; you can receive up to an 11 percent discount by buying postage online.

Don’t get caught in the holiday rush. Schedule a free package pickup from your home or office.

Stay updated on the status of your package. Use Priority Mail to receive tracking to monitor your package’s progress toward its destination. You also can sign up for text and email alerts through my.usps.com to help you track package delivery.

Check key shipping dates to ensure your package arrives in time for the holiday. The U.S. Postal Service provides these deadlines to help you plan ahead for delivery by Dec. 25:

Dec. 2 – International First-Class Mail

Dec. 2 – Priority Mail International

Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International

Dec. 15 – Standard Post

Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed

Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail

Dec. 20 – Priority Mail

Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express

Note: Priority Mail Express postage refund eligibility is adjusted for shipments mailed December 22-25.

“The U.S. Postal Service prepares all year for the holidays,” Budzynski said. “This is our season. We are ready to help customers ensure their packages are packed, tracked and delivered with ease.”

For more shipping tips and online tools, visit usps.com.


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Holiday Treats to Impress

Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog

Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog

(Family Features)

When planning a holiday menu, two of the most important elements to consider are cocktails and dessert, of course. Consider a twist on two seasonal staples:  eggnog and pie. With a little extra effort, and a pinch of pizzazz, these holiday treats go from mainstream to memorable.
A prominent ingredient in both recipes, raw eggs are safe to use thanks to Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs.* Undergoing an all-natural warm water pasteurization process, the risk of salmonella is eliminated inside the shell, making the eggs the ideal choice for raw and gently cooked consumption.

Elevate your eggnog

Classic eggnog receives a makeover in the delightfully indulgent Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog cocktail. With the sweetness of apple pie filling and the smooth taste of homemade eggnog, the addition of dark spiced rum creates a rich, full-bodied flavor for a satisfying adult dessert drink. For younger guests, simply omit the rum for a sophisticated, yet fun, alternative to the average “kiddy drink.”


Chocolate Peppermint Pie

Oh my, what a pie

A holiday showstopper, treat your guests to Chocolate Peppermint Pie. Featuring a blend of white and semisweet or dark chocolate chips, crushed peppermint candy and whipped cream, the flavors and textures harmoniously combine to create a truly decadent dessert.  Use a knife to make decorative chocolate swirls on the pie’s top layer, and you have your very own masterpiece.

During the holidays, and all year round, look for the red circle “P” on the shell to ensure you are making the Safest Choice every time. Remember, pasteurized equals peace of mind.

For more recipes for all seasons and occasions, visit www.safeeggs.com.

Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: 10 half-cup servings

4Safest Choice

Pasteurized Eggs*

1can (21 ounces) apple

pie filling

1 1/2cups milk

1teaspoon apple or

pumpkin pie spice

10tablespoons whipped cream

5teaspoons caramel icecream topping,


Apple or pumpkin pie spice (optional topping)

In blender container, combine eggs and apple pie filling. Blend on high speed until very smooth, scraping container as needed. Add milk and apple pie spice. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped cream and 1/2 teaspoon caramel topping. Sprinkle with additional apple pie spice, if desired.

Note: If desired, 3/4 to 1 cup dark spiced rum can be stirred into mixture after final blending.

*Editor’s note: This brand of pasteurized egg is not available in our area. Either use a different pasteurized egg product, or use a cooked egg base. According to the FDA, here is how to make a cooked egg base:

Combine eggs and half the milk as indicated in the recipe. (Other ingredients, such as sugar may be added at this step.)

Cook the mixture gently to an internal temperature of 160 °F, stirring constantly. The cooking will destroy Salmonella, if present. At this temperature, the mixture will firmly coat a metal spoon. After cooking, chill the mixture before adding the rest of the milk and other ingredients.


Chocolate Peppermint Pie

Prep time: 30 minutes

Chill time: 15 minutes

Freeze time: 6-8 hours or overnight

Servings: 10-12


8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs*

1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1 cup whipped cream

½ cup crushed peppermint candy (about 20 candy rounds)

1 (9-inch) pie crust

½ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly

Place cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer on low speed to combine. Increase speed to high; beat until smooth, scraping bowl as necessary. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Remove 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture; set aside. Add white chocolate to remaining mixture; beat on medium to combine. Fold in whipped cream. Gently stir in peppermint. Pour into pie crust. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir semisweet chocolate into reserved 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture. Remove pie from refrigerator. Slowly pour chocolate mixture over pie. Spread to cover pie, or use knife to swirl chocolate. Freeze, covered, about 6 hours or until firm.

Note: Baked pastry crust or crumb crust such as chocolate or graham cracker may be used.

*Editor’s note: This brand of pasteurized egg is not available in our area. Use an alternative pasteurized egg product. 

Posted in Hometown Holidays, RecipesComments Off on Holiday Treats to Impress

Add Some Sparkle to Your Holiday Décor


By Melinda Myers

Liven up your holiday décor with lights, a bit of glitz and some colorful blossoms this season.

Start by gathering greenery from your landscape. Use needled evergreens like pines and firs, broadleaf evergreens like boxwood, holly and evergreen magnolia as well as junipers and arborvitaes to create wreaths, swags, centerpieces and garland. And don’t forget to include cones, holly berries, crabapples and the bluish-colored fruit of junipers.

Be selective as you prune your trees and shrubs when collecting these materials. Use sharp bypass pruners that have two sharp blades and will make a clean cut that closes more quickly. Make your cuts above a healthy bud, where the branches join another branch, or back to the main trunk. Take only a few branches from each tree or shrub to maintain the plants’ beauty.

Place freshly cut greens in a cool location away from heaters, fireplaces and open flames. Set them on colorful fabric or paper to catch the sap and avoid damaging your woodwork and furnishings.

Check your greenery for freshness every few days. The needles, leaves and stems should bend, but not break. Replace dried greens with fresh materials.

Then brighten up the display with some cool burning LED lights. Create a mantle display or centerpiece with the help of LED pillar lights. Or add a string of LEDs to your garland. Look for something unusual like pinecone string lights (gardeners.com) to add sparkle and charm to your display.

If you have artificial greens that could use a facelift, add fresh berries, cones and seedpods for a more natural look. Increase the glitz with the help of silver and gold metallic paint or glitter.  Paint milkweed, lotus and other pods and then tuck them into the greens. Painting allium seedheads white will add the appearance of flowery snowflakes in your indoor arrangements and outdoor container gardens.

And don’t forget the fresh flowers and flowering plants. Poinsettias are a long-time favorite, but you may want to change things up with Amaryllis, spring flowering bulbs and lily of the valley.  Look for unusual varieties or combinations to increase your enjoyment. Combine large flowered amaryllis with small flowering bulbs like star of Bethlehem. Or go for a unique size shape or flower color like that of the Honeybee Amaryllis with its beautiful yellow flowers that are sure to brighten your days.

Add a few flowers to your greenery and houseplants for some instant color.  Stick your greenery and flowers in dampened floral foam to create a long-lasting holiday centerpiece. Or place cut flowers in floral picks and set them in dish gardens and houseplants to brighten things up. Then swap out the flowers as they fade.

And consider making a few extra planters or centerpieces to give as holiday and hostess gifts this year.

Now is the time to put on your gardening shoes, grab the pruners and get started decorating for the holiday season ahead.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has a master’s degree in horticulture and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. Her web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos, podcasts and monthly tips.

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‘Tis the Season to Safeguard Your Identity

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


(Family Features) The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is an exciting time. But from the crowded malls to the big online markdowns, a silent threat lurks – one with the ability to wipe out your good financial standing and make it a not-so-jolly holiday for you and your family.

Just as you would assess your holiday gift budget, it’s equally important to understand and evaluate the status of your identity, taking special precautions to help safeguard your information.

Giving information is inevitable

In the digital world, sharing your identity to obtain credit, make online holiday purchases or even receive coupons is commonplace and necessary – but it opens the door to new risks. Today, data breaches are frequent and they can put your personal information in the wrong hands.

In fact, a new study of more than 1,200 consumers conducted by Morpace on behalf of LifeLock, a comprehensive identity theft protection service, found that almost two-thirds (64 percent) of data breach victims experienced it within the last 12 months1. And while data breaches can certainly cause considerable damage to someone’s financial standing, the stakes in identity theft are exponentially higher.

The survey also found that about half of respondents who experienced identity theft do not know how their information was obtained2. While most people assume these criminal acts occur to only those with an online presence, anyone can be a target. Even unique, permanent credentials, such as Social Security numbers and birthdates, can live online regardless of an owner’s physical presence or real-world activity.

Identity theft can have uncontrollable and significant long-term financial implications, with thieves going as far as opening a bank loan, or committing tax fraud in your name.

Take protective measures

The specialists at LifeLock offer these tips to help protect you while shopping this holiday season:

Know where your info goes. Many online stores offer helpful apps for quicker, more efficient holiday shopping. Before you download any app, make sure it comes from a reputable source. Copycat apps exist which, once downloaded, may capture your personal information and use it for fraudulent purchases. Overall, it is important to know where your information is being stored – whether on your device, the hard drive of your computer or in a file at home.

Be vigilant on public Wi-Fi. Whether at your local coffee shop or while traveling, do not transact on public Wi-Fi and be wary of any passwords you enter. It’s always safer if you can wait until you get to a secure or private network.

Change passwords frequently. Make sure the passwords you use when setting up accounts with online merchants are complex and difficult for a thief to figure out. It is always a good idea to change passwords to all your accounts on a regular basis – especially with banks, email accounts and social networking sites – to add an extra layer of protection to your personal data.

Consider using a credit card. When you choose your debit card over your credit card, you may be exposing yourself to more risk. The most you’d have to pay for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50, no matter when you report it. If you report your debit card lost or stolen more than two days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 days after your statement is sent, you could lose up to $500. And if you wait more than 60 days after your statement is sent, you could be out all the money taken from your account.

As a consumer educated on identity theft, you’ll have some peace of mind and be more able to focus on the fun of the shopping season. For more information, visit LifeLock.com.

1 Based on the responses of 1,200+ U.S. consumers surveyed by Morpace, an independent third-party research firm, September 2014. Page 13.

2 Based on the responses of 1,200+ U.S. consumers surveyed by Morpace, an independent third-party research firm, September 2014. Page 62.


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How to help a grieving child during the holidays


Advice for caregivers and parents 

The holidays can be a magical time of year, but for children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or another significant person in their lives, the holiday season can be tough. It also poses challenges for still-grieving family members and caregivers around them.

“The holiday season can be particularly difficult for families, because children carry their own expectations about the holidays, as well as their own grief over the death,” said Bonnie Carroll, military widow and founder of the nonprofit organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). “The holidays can be full of bittersweet moments. They can also be an opportunity to honor and remember the person who died and the legacy that special person left for a child.”

Since its founding in 1994 by bereaved military families, TAPS has offered comfort and care to more than 50,000 people grieving the death of someone who served in the military and their caregivers, and is a recognized expert in child bereavement. TAPS Good Grief Camps are attended by thousands of children and teens annually. TAPS offers the following tips to help families supporting a bereaved child over the holidays:

Talk with your child about the holiday season. Anticipating the holiday, especially if it’s the first holiday without a family member, can be worse than the actual holiday. Talk with your child about their feelings and expectations for the holiday season. Discuss the activities your child would like to participate in or attend.

Even if your child does not talk frequently about the death, do not expect for your child to be “over it.” Children grieve on their own time frame and differently from adults. Significant milestones, such as the first holiday after the loss, may cause the child’s feelings about the loss to re-surface, even if the child has not talked about the death for a while.

Make holiday plans that help your child feel nurtured, emotionally safe, and comfortable. Review your plans for the holidays with your child. Spend the holidays where you and your child feel supported, nurtured and comfortable.

Encourage your child to attend holiday functions. Consider attending holiday parties and activities, especially if you and your child will be able to spend time with supportive family members and friends. Make an escape plan in case the event is more than you or your child can handle and trust your hosts to understand if you need to slip out.

Laughter, play and joy are good for your child. Children do not grieve continuously and they need to take breaks from grieving. Encourage your child to play, run and do recreational activities he or she would normally do. Clowning around and laughing (which releases endorphins into the brain) are healthy and normal for children.

Be observant about your child’s emotions. Realize that familiar traditions, sights, smells and tastes, may be comforting, or may jolt emotions. Watch how your child responds to events and be ready to be supportive and comfort your child.

Comfort items that remind the child of the loved one who died may help. Allowing your child to sleep in a favorite shirt that belonged to the person who died may offer comfort. Letting your child carry a special item that reminds him or her of the person who died may help the child feel connected. Placing a photograph of the child with the person who died or from a holiday celebration in a special place, may help.

Pay attention to your child’s health. It’s often difficult for adults and children alike who have experienced a recent death to sleep. Make sure your child gets regular rest, eats well and drink lots of water. Holiday treats are ok, but in moderation. Bed wetting, acting out and nightmares may be signs of struggling. Talk with your medical care provider if you become concerned about your child’s health.

Do not pretend your family has not experienced a loss. Let your child know that you also miss the person who died. Tell your child that you don’t like that things cannot be exactly like they were before the person died, and that you love your child. Children may need to hear this in order to feel it is permissible to discuss their own feelings.

Find sustenance for the soul. Your church, synagogue, mosque, or another faith community may offer services, resources and support networks to help you and your child through the holiday season.

Talk with your child about holiday traditions and how they will be observed this year. Some children insist that holiday customs remain exactly the same each year. Discuss with your child why he or she wants to hold onto a particular tradition or custom. Do not feel that you must do something because you have always done it that way, but consider your child’s feelings when making a change. Talk with your child about any changes before they occur.

Stick to daily routines when possible. The holidays tend to cause a lot of upheaval in schedules and routines. The friends your child plays with may go out of town. The daily schedule your child is accustomed to may change when schools close for the holidays. Try to keep your child on a regular bedtime routine and talk with your child about any changes.

Allow your child to remember a lost loved one through a tribute. Light a candle together at dinner time to remember the person who died. Hang an ornament on the tree that reminds the child of the loved one who died. Help your child offer a blessing at a holiday meal that honors the person who died. Create a picture or collage with your child, display a favorite photograph in your home, or let your child help you set a place at the dinner table to represent the loved one who died.

Help your child write a letter to the person who died that honors the legacy that person gave the child. Help your child write a letter to the person they love who died thanking him or her for the gifts the person gave to the child, the special things they would do together and expressing how the child feels about the person. Some children may want to mail their letter to the person, take the letter to the cemetery or “send it to heaven” on a helium-filled balloon.

Honor the lost loved one through a gift. Encourage your child to draw pictures or create gifts for others that are inspired by the memories of the person who died. Help your child make a donation to a charity or cause the loved one cared about. Consider volunteering as a family at the charity.

Use family connections to help your child. Connections with other family members can help your child feel comforted, loved and safe. These family connections can also help you as a parent or caregiver cope with the holidays. Encourage your child to build ties with other family members, but you may need to remain nearby to reassure your child with your presence.

For more tips on dealing with grief during the holidays, go to the TAPS website at www.taps.org and look for our holiday survival guide. 

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 50,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994.

Posted in Hometown HolidaysComments Off on How to help a grieving child during the holidays

Holiday Happenings

Check out some of the fun, family activities going on around the area for the holidays. Start a new tradition!


HOL-Tree-lighting1-SantaCEDAR SPRINGS

2014 Cedar Springs Christmas – Come Mingle with Kris Kringle

Dec. 6: Celebrate the kick off to the Christmas season with “Come Mingle with Kris Kringle,” presented by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Looking for something sweet? Pick up some awesome baked goods at the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Bake Sale at Alpha omega Coffee and Games.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Make an ornament at the Cedar Springs Library, 43 W. Cherry Street, and take it with you to decorate the tree at 1 p.m. (see below).

1:00-2:00 p.m. Decorate the town Christmas Tree with the Cedar Springs Cheerleaders at the corner of Main and Ash Street.

1:00-3:00 p.m. Feets and Seats and Personal Care For North Kent Community Services by the Christmas Tree. Bring your new and unused socks, undergarments, and personal care items, for people in need in the community.

1:00-3:00 p.m. Free Hot Chocolate at the corner of Ash and Main Street provided by ReMax.

2:00-3:00 p.m. Story time with Mrs. Claus at Perry’s Place llc for herbs, teas, and more.

3:00-4:00 p.m. Christmas Puzzle Time with Santa’s Elves at Alpha Omega Coffee and Games.

4:00 p.m. Double K Farms & Animal Junction 4H Club  Petting Zoo & Bake Sale at corner of Main and Ash Street, while waiting for Santa.

4:00 p.m. Parade Line Up corner of Second and Maple Street.

4:30 p.m. Christmas Parade brings Santa from Second and Maple to corner of Ash and Main St.

HOL-Tree-lighting2-Tree4:45 p.m. Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling, corner of Main and Ash St.

5:00 p.m. Live Nativity Scene, then Mingle with Kris Kringle. Tell him what you want for Christmas! The CS Cheerleaders will be handing out candy canes.

5:00-7:00pm Candlelight Tour at the CS Historical Museum at Morley Park. Inside the museum there is an antique sleigh set up in front of a wintery scene backdrop. Families are welcome to take pictures of their children in the old sleigh.

A Christmas night of worship

Dec. 7: Coffee, Candles, Carols, and Praise. Solon Center Wesleyan Church presents “A Christmas night of worship,” on Sunday evening, December 7, at 6 p.m. World-class desserts and coffee will be served during the concert. The church is located on Algoma Avenue, just north of 19 Mile Road. Join us for a great night of celebrating Christmas. All are welcome! www.scwchurch.org.

Edible Christmas Tree Decorating at the library

Dec. 13: Make an ordinary ice cream cone magically turn into a fabulous Christmas tree at the Cedar Springs Public Library! RSVP for sessions starting at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Great for kids ages preschool and up. RSVP by calling 616-696-1910 or stop by and sign up at 43 W. Cherry Street during open hours.

2014 Kent Theatre Christmas Concert

Dec. 13: The 2014 Annual Kent Theatre Christmas Concert hosted by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce (CSACOC) is scheduled for December 13th from 3pm to 5pm. Come out an have some holiday family fun! Admission tickets are $3 per person.

2014 Kent Theatre Dance Extravaganza

Dec. 14: The 2014 Annual Kent Theatre Christmas Dance Extravaganza hosted by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce (CSACOC) is scheduled for December 14th from 3pm to 5pm. Come out an have some holiday family fun! Admission tickets are $3 per person!



2014 Christmas block party and parade

Dec. 5: Come join the fun in downtown Greenville on December 5th! The Block party will take place from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Get your picture taken with Santa, then watch while Santa magically lights the Christmas Tree at 5:45 p.m. The parade will start at 6:00 p.m. on Lafayette Street. You won’t want to miss out on all the fun!

Classic Movie Series at Flat River Library

Dec. 8: See a holiday classic at the Flat River Library suitable for the whole family. Popcorn will be provided. 5:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. www.flatriverlibrary.org.

Extreme Duct Tape: Holiday Edition

Dec. 9: Teens Only! Get into the holiday spirit at the Flat River Library by making your own duct tape ornament or gift. We will provide all the materials, or you can bring your own duct tape for a custom look. Either way, we look forward to crafting with you! 4-5 p.m. www.flatriverlibrary.org/events/


Dec. 13: Get into the holiday spirit at the Flat River Librar by making your own duct tape ornament or gift. We will provide all the materials, or you can bring your own duct tape for a custom look. Either way, we look forward to crafting with you! For all ages, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Homes for the Holiday Tour

Dec. 6: The Friends of the Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library is holding their Homes for the Holiday Tour on December 6, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Library or at Kindel & Company. Advance tickets are $10, on the day of the event $12. Ticket price includes refreshments at the library after 2 p.m. Follow the Snowflake Signs. Homes on the tour are; Jerry and Brenda Gartszke, Poisson Family, Susan Sunden, Brenda Tumosa and Jessie Vogel and Bob Visser.


Howard Christensen Nature Center

Holiday Make & Take

Dec. 6: You will not want your kids to miss this one! Bring your child to Howard Christenesen Nature Center on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., where they will make unique gifts and wrap them up with the assistance of our volunteer team. Voila! Your children’s holiday shopping is done. This event is most appropriate for K-5th graders. A cherished gift from your child’s heart, what could be better! Donation $6 per child. The nature center is located at 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City, Michigan, 49330.

Learn to Snowshoe

Dec. 21: You and your loved ones can enjoy snowshoeing together on our scenic trails with a snowshoe guide from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Build a team and join the festive fun, snow permitting (about 6 inches of snow for snowshoeing). This would be a great opportunity for a “date” day! Donation $5.00/person – snowshoes included or bring your own. Hot chocolate will be served in our gorgeous Interpretive Center after our hike. The nature center is located at 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City, Michigan, 49330.



Discover a Rockford Christmas

Take a step back in time and capture the magic of the holidays with these special events!

Dec. 5: Holiday Lighting Ceremony at Peppler Park, Friday, Dec. 5 at 6:00 p.m.

Dec. 6: Santa Parade, Downtown Rockford, Saturday, Dec. 6 at 11:00 a.m. Visit Santa in Rotary Pavilion immediately after parade.

Dec. 6: Carriage Rides (FREE) by Classic Carriages, LLC, Saturday, Dec. 6, from noon to 2:00 p.m.

Dec. 10: Santa Visits & Free Cocoa at the Rotary Pavilion, Wednesday, Dec. 10 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Dec. 11-12: Carriage Rides (FREE) by Classic Carriages, LLC, sponsored by Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 11-12, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Load in front of Custard by the Dam.

Dec. 17: Santa Visits, Free Cocoa, and live reindeer at the Rotary Pavilion, Wednesday, Dec. 17 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Dec. 18-19: Carriage Rides (FREE) by Classic Carriages, LLC, sponsored by Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 18-19, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Load in front of Custard by the Dam.



Sand Lake Christmas 2014

Experience a Sand Lake Christmas, sponsored by the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Nov. 30: Tree Lighting  & Concert 6:30 p.m. by Resurrection Lutheran Preschool

Dec. 6: Craft Sale 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

Dec. 12: Bake Sale SLUMW 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at Independent Bank

Dec. 13: Kick off of 12 Days of Christmas 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m.-Noon Santa at the Library

10:00 am-2:00 p.m. Vintage Snowmobile Show

10:00 am-4:00 pm Quilt Show and Raffle at United Methodist Hall.

10:00 am-1:00 p.m. Kids Activities at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

1:00-3:00 p.m. Kids activities at Mary Queen of Apostles Hall.

11:00am-2:00 p.m. Soup Luncheon at United Methodist Hall.

11:30 am-1:00 p.m. Community Caroling.

3:00 p.m. Out House Races

Christmas Cookie Contest

Dec. 13: Bring at least one dozen cookies and your recipe to the Sand Lake United Methodist Church between 8:30-9:30 a.m. Judging begins at 10 a.m. A $25 award will be given in each category: drop cookies, bars (cut squares), and rolled (cookie cutters). An additional $25 will be awarded for overall best cookie. Entries will be judged on first impression, taste and quality. Homemade only, no boxed mixes. May enter multiple recipes. A separate entry form must be filled out for each one. Winners will be announced at noon at the church hall. All extra cookies will be sold at the soup luncheon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sand Lake Village Churches Progressive Advent Activities

Dec. 5: Indoor Live Nativity 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Sand Lake United Methodist Church Hall.

Dec. 6: Indoor Live Nativity 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Sand Lake United Methodist Church Hall.

Dec. 14: “Journey to Bethlehem” 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Mary Queen of Apostle Catholic Church Hall.

Dec. 21: Christmas Program 11:00 a.m. at Church of the Full Gospel.

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Service 7:00 p.m. at Resurrection Lutheran Church.



‘Tis the season! Sparta holiday calendar events brought to you by the Sparta Area Chamber and Sparta DDA.

Nov. 27: Turkey Trot in Sparta, Thursday, Nov. 27, 9 a.m. Race begins at Sparta Civic Center, 75 N. Union. $15 plus two canned food items. Registration forms at spartachamber.com.

Nov. 29: Ugly Sweater 5K Run, 9:30 a.m. Starts/finishes: Mamrelund Lutheran Church, 4085 Lutheran Church Rd., Kent City. Proceeds support local food pantries. Visit Facebook: The Ugly Christmas Sweater 5K run/walk.

Dec. 2: Santa Workshop 5-8 pm at Maddie LaRoues, 126 E. Division. Hosted by Independent Bank. Free photos with Santa, activities, & more!

Dec. 9: Gingerbread House Decorating Party, 6-8 p.m. at Sparta Township Library, 80 N. Union. For all ages! Houses & decorating items will be supplied.

Dec. 13: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 9-11 a.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free! Bring your own camera!

Dec. 18: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 5-7:30 p.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.

Dec. 20 Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 9-noon, 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.

Dec. 21: Sparta Nazarene Christmas Candlelight Service, 10:30 a.m. at Sparta Church of the Nazarene, 665 13 Mile Road.

Dec. 21-24: Ballard Church of Christ, 1633 10 Mile Road, presents “The Living Nativity,” from 7-8 p.m.

Dec. 22: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 9-11 a.m. and 5-7 p.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.

Dec. 23: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 11-1 and 5-7 p.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.


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