Friday, December 23, 2011

Crafty Christmas: Fun Family Traditions

Hand-knit stockings by Nana

Christmas Countdown: Christmas is just 2 days away!

The best part about Christmas is traditions - busting out the Christmas tree, hanging each ornament on it only after exclaiming the memory that is associated with each one, drinking cider, making sugar cookies, writing messages in Christmas cards, driving around town to see Christmas lights on neighbors' houses, watching Christmas movies - you get the idea!

Jason and I have a few traditions that we've done every year, but starting last year, we've really started to consider the traditions we partake in and which ones we want to start partaking in. We have three traditions that are new from last year that we loved so much, we plan on continuing them each year. One new tradition from 2010 was attending Christmas eve candlelight service. We thoroughly enjoyed this. Most Lutheran congregations have an 11 PM candlelight service, and let me tell you that it was just magical. We loved it. And after a frenzied week of visiting relatives, it was nice to just sit, sing Christmas hymns and put the focus right back where it belongs.

Last year, we chose to stay home on Christmas day, and that was one of the best decisions we've ever made ever. Being at home with the people I love most in the world on the day I love most out all of the days ever created is just joyous. This year, since we have a proper kitchen, we plan on making a feast fit for Christmas.

And that brings me to one new tradition we're starting this year: baking a birthday cake for Jesus. Really, at the end of the day, Christmas is about Jesus. And people who say it's not... are slightly delusional (in fact, I never really understood why people who claim to be atheists celebrate the actual day of Christmas. If you want to just give people gifts, that's fine, but why wrap them in Christmas paper? That's so weird. Not that wrapping paper has anything at all to do with Jesus, but when it's marketed as Christmas wrapping paper, I think it does. Anyway, I digress). So this year, we're making a carrot cake to commemorate the day Jesus was born. And we're going to sing to Him and rejoice in His love for us. I can't wait!

Our beautiful Christmas tree
We keep our traditions relatively simple to keep the focus where it belongs: on God. Anything that detracts from that focus, we tend to cut out - excessive holiday gatherings, excessive gift giving... pretty much anything excessive! We tend to favor homemade gifts (which you likely know as this is what this series has been all about). Because one area in which people tend to allow the focus to shift elsewhere is in gift giving, we've tried very hard to keep the emphasis on the true joy of the day. Part of a third tradition we started last year and will be continuing for each year is a modest, set budget for Jason, me and Preston. The idea is to fill up the stockings (although some items can't fit in the stockings due to the size, not the value so there tends to be gifts under the tree as well).

The other part of the third tradition we started last year was to trade off who gets to fill the adult stockings. Last year, I played "Santa" and bought items to fill both mine and Jason's stocking. This year, Jason got to do it, and next year, I will and so on. We don't like to advocate the idea of Santa, but we enjoy remembering who St. Nicholas was and what his intentions were. We like the idea of giving gifts out of the love of one's heart and remembering the three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus, thus we give gifts. Together, we buy gifts to fill Preston's stocking.

Next year, when I will be "Santa" again, I am not going to use any money whatsoever to fill mine and Jason's stockings. Look for a new series to begin next year that will share my adventures in doing this. I plan on utilizing a few different methods to fill our stockings, and I'm pretty excited about the challenge.

Share with us: What traditions do you and your family partake in? I'd love to hear!

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