I remember in 2007, our first Christmas together, the discussion around traditions began. It was very interesting to compare our experiences growing up.
I assumed we would have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner followed by a fancy Christmas Day breakfast followed by a fancy Christmas Day dinner. We would go to a Christmas Eve candlelight service. And of course we would open the majority of the presents on Christmas Eve over dessert (after all the fine china was hand washed, of course) and then open the “Santa” presents (the big ones, either in size or price) on Christmas morning, along with the stocking stuffers.
Jason’s Christmases of past were a little different. And when I say different I mean toned down. His family made pizzas on Christmas Eve and had a more relaxed, family style meal. I don’t remember if they went to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas. Most of the gifts were opened on Christmas Day. A reading of Luke 2 took place as well as a special book called The Littlest Angel. Sometimes they reenacted the nativity with costumes. Santa was fictional and presents were not a huge focus.
There are things I like about both of our childhood experiences. When my mom pulled out the boxes and boxes of decorations it was a big deal to me. I especially loved taking each ornament out of the box one by one as we put them on the tree. We had boughs along all the banisters. The Snow Villages came out and I would pretend they were little doll houses. There was a sense of routine around the season which I found comforting and an appreciation of beauty that I carry with me today.
Jason’s experience also sticks with him. He is adamant that we read Luke 2 during this season, as he did growing up, and I really love that. I also love the sense of togetherness that the Haggard’s relaxed traditions brought about in their family. I want the presents to be sacrificial and special, but I want them to be minimal, as it was for Jason. I don’t care when they’re opened.
Obviously you can tell that I’ve been thinking about this topic, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. Back in October when I started thinking about Christmas, the first things that came to my mind were what kind of cookies, cards, and decorations I wanted to do. Sadly, it was not how I wanted to use these or other things to cultivate a sense of wonder in my home about the birth of Jesus.
But, the Lord has been moving me along. First it came with Amy’s post on her blog about the nativity and then a book she recommended entitled Treasuring God in our Traditions. I found it very intriguing, ordered it, and have just started looking through. The author shares some great ideas for kid-friendly activities that I’d like to incorporate or alter in the coming years.
Second, is Advent. Neither Jason nor I celebrated this growing up, but I have always had a vague understanding of it and have become more interested in the last few years. It is perfect for children (and adults) because 1) it’s a daily reminder of the meaning of Christmas and 2) it’s all about anticipation. Amy also posted about some of the things her family is doing for Advent, which was very helpful, since I really didn’t know where to start.
So what are we doing this year? A little of Krohn, a little of Haggard, a little of our own special twist. That last part is important; Jason reminds me that it doesn’t matter so much what we used to do or what other people are doing (I compare), but that we make sure we’re sensitive to what God wants for our own little family.
My hope is that there will be lots of excitement and thankfulness about Jesus’ birth, in whatever we do.
Here are some of our activities (the *ed ones are new for us):
- *Our own version of Advent: we’re reenacting Luke 2 every day with Ian’s Fisher-Price nativity set
- Singing a Christmas song before bed
- Christmas music at home and in the car
- Handmade cards to a few people with Ian’s 2-year photo
- Eating TJ’s Peppermint Joe Joe’s and some sparkly drinks
- Having a baking day so we can deliver cookies to Jason’s co-workers
- *Learning a few Christmas songs on the piano
- *Cutting down our own tree
- Making pizza for our early Christmas celebration with the Haggards and probably a reading of The Littlest Angel (but this time without Bill falling asleep, as Jason fondly remembers him doing growing up 🙂 )
- Christmas Eve service
- Fondue and another reading of The Littlest Angel on Christmas Eve, probably along with Luke 2
- Top Pot doughnuts on Christmas morning
- Something fancy to eat on our fine china on Christmas
I love traditions. I love that God gave us a salvation story to celebrate and that the celebrating of it every year is in itself a tradition.