Anytime I hear the word "tradition", I immediately break into song. I just can't help it. Though I have to say that today's topic is a lot happier than what poor Tevye went through in "Fiddler on the Roof". (I love musicals! Bet you never would have guessed...) I've been thinking about our family's Christmas traditions of course. (Bet you never would have figured that out either. :P)
We have a lot!
I guess it's because I believe traditions are so important, though a bit of an irony if you ask me. They don't happen often and yet they are repetitive. How can something that happens over and over again be very special? I believe it's because these annual little events build up cherished family memories. I have so many fond childhood moments that I can look back on, which makes my lips curl into a smile and my heart beat faster in anticipation of sharing them with my two boys.
After the Turkey and stuffing have been downed and we've wallowed in a pool of gravy-covered mashed potatoes, we kick the season off with - No, not football - a viewing of "White Christmas". This is something my mom and I enjoyed and it's not quite the same without her, but the boys all humor me knowing that the next day is their day to celebrate. They love decorating the tree and hanging stockings. Well, James not so much, but he humors us all. ;)
Of course, the Christmas music is blasting and we're all (okay, just me usually) singing at the tops of our lungs! It doesn't get better than that, or does it?
December is a month of giving and that means teaching moments. Throughout the first couple of weeks in December, we have the boys choose and collect toys to give away to kids who don't have as much as they do. I love being able to teach them this form of charity. It helps them to realize how important it is to give of themselves to others. Growing up, we would always do the twelve days of Christmas as well and I want to start this tradition again, but this year it didn't work out. Back home, we would pick someone or a couple from the senior citizens in town and then we would go and visit with them Christmas day. Oh I miss that so much! So many of that generation have passed away now and going home just isn't quite the same without them.
On Christmas Eve, we have a series of traditions. Growing up, we'd always have a little Christmas concert. This is another tradition that has gone by the wayside, but I hope we can start again someday. Instead, we start the evening off by role-playing the Christmas story. No, not the movie. The one in Luke chapter 2! ;) James reads from the scriptures and the rest of us divvy up the parts. After that, we read a Christmas book - Last year, it was "The Giving Chest" by Dan Farr and Dick Van Dyke. This year, it's "The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck. Finally, we let the kids open one present and then we send them to bed.
We even have a tradition about what we eat first thing Christmas morning. I'm just funny like that. What can I say! After we force breakfast down they're throats, then we do my favorite Christmas tradition of all. We have a special stocking that holds cards we had written on the year before. These little notes contain our gifts to Jesus. After we assess how we lived last year, we then write out our new gifts to Jesus - our goals on how we can live this year better than the last. Of course, then the kids jump to the Christmas tree to open their own gifts.
This list doesn't include the traditional sugar cookie gifting, party mix, caroling and light-seeing expeditions. And what Christmas wouldn't be complete without reading "The Forgotten Carols" and listening to the beautiful songs that go with it. Not to mention, SheDaisy's album "Brand New Year". Oh I love Christmas!
Merry Christmas, everyone! (And happy holidays to all those who don't celebrate it!)