Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Traditionally Speaking

Traditions are the glue that holds a family together, separate and unique from other families. Some traditions become such a part of the daily routine that we may not even recognize them as special, such as praying together at night or talking about the day's high and low points over dinner. Christmas traditions, though, are special.

Do you read the Christmas story together? Open stockings? Have a turkey dinner feast?

Last year, our family began a tradition that I'd like to continue. Together, as a family, we found a way to give to others. The tough part (which was also the most blessed part) of the giving was that it was sacrificial.

I don't think our kids are old enough to understand going with a "giftless" Christmas where we give all of our gift money to a worthwhile project. But there is no age limit on learning to be a blessing, to offer something that may mean you need to have a little less for yourself.

A couple other traditions that have bloomed over the years:
- Each kid gets a new ornament every year, and they hang their ornaments on the tree. (There is a slim chance that I missed a year along the way - baby brain - but I'm going to make sure each kid is all set for next year.)
- On Christmas Eve, the kids get to open a gift (pre-selected by moi). It's always new pyjamas.
- Santa fills the stockings in this house and leaves a gift (typically something that everyone can enjoy together). Of course, we always leave out milk and cookies for the jolly fella.
- At my parents' house, one of them will read the Christmas story before we devour the turkey and trimmings. Sometimes it's direct from the Bible, sometimes a version from a children's book.

I should share a little trick I came up with a few years back that seems to help with any sibling issues that occur around gifts (you know, no matter how you do Christmas and how much you try to focus on Christ and not the gifts, there is almost always one child who ends up whining to play with something that someone else received - this makes me crazy!). For any and all gift-giving occasions, a gift received by a particular child belongs solely to that child for a full 24 hours. After that day is done, the treasure is now for sharing. The exceptions to the rule are clothing and items that they choose to put in their special box. (The special box is a shoebox-sized Rubbermaid container, which the child keeps in his/her room. No one else is allowed to take items from the box. This little trick helped me deal with the child who was "hoarding" everything in piles on and beside the bed.)

Now, given that time is running short, I need to figure out what we're going to do as a family to be a blessing this Christmas. Pat and I have already come up with one thing, but it didn't involve the kids...

What are your family's traditions around Christmas?


  1. Our Santa tradition is almost exactly like yours. We also do the Christmas Eve pajamas, and my dad read the Christmas story before opening gifts at their house. This year we're starting a couple new traditions, one of which I will be posted on my blog tomorrow. And we're going to bake a birthday cake for Jesus. And we do Advent readings (my kids LOVE this). That's all I can think of right now. I have a tendency to overload on's a problem of mine... :)

    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU!! Lots of love to my faraway sister in Christ. :)

  2. we do the new ornament each year - and also go on a Christmas Light judging tour of the neighborhood with a hot chocolate (and chocolate milk) treat. Christmas morning we open stockings first - then I make a pancake - or waffle breakfast and we sing Happy Birthday Jesus.

    interested to hear what you did to bless others!!


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