I love traditions, especially Christmas traditions. There is something so perfect about doing the same thing year after year. My parents always say traditions are the “glue” that binds families together (and I would add that it works the same way for friends). I’m sure I’ve already blogged about this in the past….but I’ll say it again. Traditions rule.
Our annual cookie bake. We spend the whole day making cookies to use for various Christmas parties, packages etc. And this year Charlie and Saul didn’t make any horrible messes downstairs. Hallelujah! The 3rd annual “carolers on the bus” event. Our friends rent a whole bus and we go around caroling. This year we went to a nursing home and a shelter. Everyone loves it (especially Charlie). The Nazareth Supper. This is something we did growing up…..we all dress up as characters from bible times and act as if this is the supper Mary and Joseph would have had before departing on their long journey to Bethlehem. The kids love it, but don’t really get out of it what the parents wish they did. Still, I love this tradition…..i’m hoping they’ll learn more from it as the get older, for now, I just try to enjoy how silly they all think it is. Our friends have come up with some great characters over the years…..Elizabeth and Zachariah always show up, usually there’s some kind of prophetess there, this year we had a wise woman and a tax collector come and Ibrahim, a merchant, showed up to sell turtle doves to Mary and Joseph to use as offerings at the temple. I love the food the most…..falafel. If anyone wants an awesome falafel recipe, click here. And it’s surprisingly easy….though it makes your house smell like a middle eastern restaurant for a few days (which I don’t mind a bit). A very somber Mary.
And of course, there is decorating the Christmas tree together and getting out the decorations…..I’m hoping this one will get more fun for me when the kids are a little older and able to help a little more…..this year, despite my grumpiness at having to put the 12 strings of lights on using the “Saren” techniques, they still seemed to love this tradition. Each year my mother-in-law sends each of the kids an ornament, and they love finding “their” ornaments and putting them on the tree.
Some other pre-Christmas traditions that I love which I haven’t documented through photos (trying not to take so many pictures):
- putting hay in the manger. I have a little tiny “manger” that we put in the kids room and some “straw in a box…..they can put a piece of straw in for every kind deed they do over the season. The goal is to make the manger bed soft enough for the baby Jesus by Christmas eve. I love sitting down with the kids at night and asking them to think about nice things they have done….they can’t always think of things, so I get to point out a few things that I’ve noticed.
- reading Christmas stories before bed. I love this tradition because it makes me slow down a bit…..and boy do those Christmas stories bring in the spirit of Christmas. I know my kids love it too, especially when the story makes me cry. One of my favorites that we’ve read this year is “The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause” by Julie Lane. It’s a long one, but we’ve loved it.
- the kids saving money and buying Christmas presents for us and each other. Jeff took them to Target this year instead of the dollar store….I’m tired of junk in the house….and they made some serious cash (for them at least) with their cookie stand. They were so excited as they picked things out and wrapped them up. I really want my kids to know that Christmas is mostly about giving.
- secret Santas and secret services. really, i think kids get as excited about these things as they do about getting their own gifts. the combination of being secretive and giving at the same time just speaks to their little hearts.