2 Dec
2013
Posted in: parenting
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Connecting Reason to Christmas Traditions

Tree Christmas lights

If you’re in Walmart and you hear someone belting out Christmas songs as she shops, that would be me. I honestly forget other people can hear me. I’m not humming the tunes either. I’m singing like I’m alone in the car. Singing carols is one of my preferred avenues for spreading Christmas cheer. I apologize in advance.

I feel like a horse out of the starting gate when Thanksgiving week arrives and the holiday season begins. I’m giddy I tell you. The trees (wouldn’t be Christmas in our house without several to decorate) are trimmed. Trees, lights, music, candy canes and snow…my world screams Christmas, and I am soaking it up. The advent calendar is out and being slowly dismantled. Traditions are a hallmark of a family, and the next 24 days are the jackpot.

Our Top 5 Christmas Traditions

  1. Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments — My mother had my sister and I pick out a new ornament from Hallmark each year when I was growing up. When we were married, we brought the ornaments to our homes. I continue that with my own family. All six of us pick out a new Hallmark Keepsake Ornament each year, and we collect a family ornament as well that’s part of an on-going series. This was the first year I had to leave some of my childhood ornaments off the tree because we were short on limb space. My own kids will one day take their ornaments to their own homes.
  2. Pajamas on Christmas Eve — Every Christmas Eve after we arrive home from church, our kids open one present. It’s new pajamas. Every year. This tradition fills me with a little tension. Once when I was growing up, the pajamas I was given didn’t fit. That year, my sister received two pairs. Decades later I still remember. I cannot let that happen in my own house. I hold my breath a little when the kids first put their new duds on.
  3. Advent calendar — As a child, we did the advent calenders with the little doors hiding a piece of waxy chocolate. I like the idea behind counting down until Christmas but knew I didn’t want it about food. We’ve done several variations on the advent calendar, but our favorite is the DIY LEGO calendar.
  4. 12 Days countdown — We keep a second running countdown to Christmas, but this one hides secret activities for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Items on the countdown include baking sugar cookies, seeing a movie at the theater, making paper snowflakes, driving around town to see Christmas lights, making gingerbread houses and having an indoor snowball fight with rolled-up, clean white socks. The kids are excited to see what that day’s adventure will be. I’m careful to assign adventures to days I know we’ll be able to accomplish them. There’s no heading to the theater on a school night even if it is in the name of Christmas cheer.
  5. Dollar store gifts — We play secret Santa at our house. We draw names and then head to the Dollar Tree to purchase gifts for each other. There are two rules: you only get $1 to spend, and you can buy whatever item you choose at the store without input from anyone else in the family. This means mom and dad keep their mouths shut. The kids are ridiculously, over-joyed by this tradition. They love the freedom of making choices completely on their own. The thoughtfulness they display in carefully selecting the gifts always warms my heart.

Hallmark Keepsake Christmas ornamentMy thoughts keep coming back to our Christmas traditions and what they teach my children. I want this time of year to be magical and wonderful, set apart from other months. I adore the build-up leading up to December 25. I’m delighted by each new house decorated with lights, each new card in the mail, presents wrapped and resting under the tree, food in abundance and carols playing everywhere you go.

Our faith is part of daily life in our house. The kids know the reason for our celebrating in December. There’s a “but” there though. Have I made it clear how the magic I try to weave with our traditions come back to the miracle that is the Christ child? Do our traditions leading up to Jesus’ celebrated birthday resonate with the wonder that filled that manger? God loved us so much he became one of us. The creator of the universe came to live the life of a man. I’m left awestruck at the thought.

There’s magic in decorating trees, eagerly counting down the 12 final days until Christmas Day, and lining the streets on a cold, dark evening to watch parade floats decked with lights. I plan on being more purposeful this year in connecting the dots between the traditions we carry-on to weave magic in the ordinary days of cold December and the Savior that came to Earth as a baby. Our traditions are imbedded in this idea of creating magic to remind us of the extraordinary birth of the King.

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2 Comments

  • Shannon-
    I love it!! We also do #1 & #2 but we also do a new book. Right before bed we sit by the tree in our new PJ’s and read our new books:) Love it<3 I really need to make some new traditions….

    AS

    • I love the idea of reading books by the tree. We have quite the collection of Christmas books I bring out after Thanksgiving and put in a special basket for the kids to read. Our ornament collection and Dollar Store gifts are my personal favorite traditions.