My family wasn't much for traditions when I was growing up. Not knocking the tradition-less family, but ya girl craved it. Something about family traditions that, in my opinion, just gives a sense of security, purpose, and connection. So when my own family began growing, I launched in. My poor, poor children. In 30 years I wouldn't be surprised if they're writing blogs, seeing a counselor, and heading for the hills, balking all Christmas traditions in the name of freedom. Bless their little hearts. That won't be the only thing mom went a little overboard on. They must know I do it because I love them ;)
But what if our traditions meant something? What if they didn't just unite our hearts to one another during Christmas, but united them to the One Christmas is all about? Maybe then something stronger than a mother's love will captive my boys' and make them long for the traditions that bind their wandering hearts to Hope.
We're only five years in to this parenting gig, and if I'm honest, our traditions have evolved every year. But here's a quick run-down of what goes on within the walls of our home in December to focus our attention and affection on the only One deserving.
1) Purposeful decorations:
I realize many of you enter adulthood proud owners of boxes filled with Christmas ornaments of yore. Use them sister! Walk down memory lane and recall every act of love from your sweet momma as she picked out just the right ornament for you each year. No. shame. But since we didn't bring said ornaments into adulthood, we've opted for a more simple, focused approach. And this year in particular we've dawned our douglas fir with all things "star." Seemed easy and appropriate in light of Isaiah 9:2, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone."
2) Advent Candles/Cards
Every Sunday in Advent we use a guide to lead our family through the four Advent candles. This year, at the recommendation of a dear friend, we are using this devotional. We reword the questioning some to be age-appropriate, but we love challenging them and we think they dig it.
Not to mention our trusty, daily Advent Cards. Ours were purchased here five years ago. But you can find something similar like this or this. We keep it simple, read a verse pertaining to the words on the card, and hang it from a ladder that already has a place in our home.
And we can't forget this! If you're looking for somewhere to start, start here! So easy. Just begin with the first story and read one story a day/night until Christmas, when you land perfectly on the story of Jesus' birth. Thank you Sally Lloyd-Jones!
3) Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Probably the easiest thing we do to remind ourselves what this season is all about is make a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve. Why Christmas Eve? Because we are home and it's easy:) Me and my overly-thought out ways...we make a boxed (#winning) red velvet cake (you know...His blood) and top it with cream cheese icing (because He came to wash us white as snow). You're rolling your eyes...I know. Just go with it. And kids love a birthday party. Such a fun way to celebrate the greatest birthday ever!
4) Manger vs Presents
Don't be fooled, our little ones get a thing or two (maybe three) on Christmas morning. But we choose not to put their gifts under the tree leading up to Christmas. Instead, my husband built the sweetest manger that makes it's home next to our tree from the 1st of December until Christmas Day. Throughout the month our boys take a handful of "straw" (currently tan yarn...because duh) and place it in the manger each night after our Advent reading. We talk about preparing our hearts and our home for our coming King as we look forward to celebrating His first coming and anticipate His return again.
On Christmas morning, they run downstairs to find baby Jesus (purchased at a local Walmart) laying in the manger! Once we've gone through our Christmas morning readings and singing (maybe I'll blog about that next year!), we bring out the presents and have a moment to enjoy the tangible gifts He so graciously gives us. It's the absolute sweetest. And all of the creativity credit goes to a beautiful momma several seasons ahead of me. I'm so grateful she passed down this tradition to our family. It's my fave:)
I've only scratched the surface of what we can do at Christmas to lean more into the Person of Christmas than the things. But there's no pressure too get too bogged down in a million things to do to create traditions. Choose your favorites and do them with joy! Not because you have to, but because we get to. Come quickly, Jesus. We're ready to move past the birthday cake and onto the wedding cake!