Kim at Lifesong has posted some of her families Christmas traditions and has encouraged those reading her blog to do the same.
Some of our traditions have changed in recent years, but we have a few that have lasted for over a decade.
1) Through the years I have created an advent celebration based on the age of my children. It has changed over time, but the message is always the same. My prayer is to create anticipation and expectation in my children's hearts at the coming Messiah. We have tried to communicate the message of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Christmas morning we read "The Birth of Jesus" a beautifully illustrated book for my younger children and Luke chapter 2.
2) I have truly enjoyed this book (which I had shared about here).
3) Christmas music filling the house as much as possible and as often as possible. We sing Christmas carols after reading in the evening.
4) Many years ago I began buying each of my children new pajamas for Christmas. Some years we did matching, but now we do something either themed or based on their personality. It is something they truly look forward to and on Christmas Eve we open up our new PJs and wear them to bed.
5) Similar to Kim, we put all our Christmas cards in a cute metal box after Christmas. And during the month of January we pull one out each night and pray for the family. I used to tell my friends to make sure we got their card if they wanted our prayers! :)
6) I have a baking day FOR THE KIDS. This means I am not looking for perfection, but rather giving them a chance to enjoy the process. I let the kids decide what they will do with their finished product. Some years the dough barely made it on the cookie sheet before being gobbled up by little mouths.
7) We pop popcorn and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" one evening.
8) One of my favorite traditions is Shopping Day. This one is only a few years old, but it is so fun. We usually go to Target and each child (the older four) has $25.00 that they have saved or earned. (We don't let them bring more than $25.00 and we give our six year old the money for now) They each shop for gifts for each of their siblings and dad and mom. (the baby will be included in a few years, but don't worry he will end up with several gifts in the process) They each have a $5.00 budget to spend on each person. I let two go in one direction and I go with the two with the six year old included. They can put their money together or not. I let them completely decide. I get so much joy in watching them carefully pick gifts for one another, and yet they try so hard not to look at things for themselves. And you might think that nothing good can come from $5.00?? Well think again, last year I got lotion, a candle, and a beautiful black pearl necklace picked out by my son. The tricky part is getting around the store and through the check out without letting each other see what is being bought. But that is part of the fun too!
**special note** And in case you are wondering. The first year we did this our budget for the event was $20.00 total. My husband took the boys to buy gifts for the girls and I took the girls to buy for the boys. We had so much fun! The girls received cute little socks and the boys received baseball cards and a rescue hero on a clearance rack. They now save for this day and it has taught them to appreciate what is bought so much more.
9) Our tree usually goes up the first week in December. My home decor for many years was very simple. We collect an ornament each year hopefully representing some special meaning. My kids each have a box with their own ornaments and they enjoy taking each one out and talking about what each one means as they put it on the tree. This year I found cute wooden sled ornaments for the boys and wooden ice skates for the girls in hopes of a White Christmas!
10) My husband always has some type of Christmas service at church and of course we all enjoy it very much.
Here are some new traditions for this year:
11) I bought "The Christmas Carol" from Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Programs on CD. One night next week I want to gather some pillows, light the candles, and sit on the floor and listen to the story.
12) My husband took two of our children to see "The Nativity" and said it was excellent. I hope to see it soon. Watching this on DVD could be a great tradition in the future.
13) And finally, a word of caution. Traditions should be there for our benefit and enjoyment. They should not rule us, but we should rule them. This is why ours can change and do. They should not be based on what we have or able to purchase, but rather on spending time with one another. When I had three children five and under it looked very different than it does today. It is not about the doing, but enjoying the time spent together and giving and receiving the message of hope in Jesus Christ.