Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas traditions in our home...

I love Christmas! I have always loved Christmas. Even in college, I would be the one to wake my family at 6 a.m. on Christmas morning. For me, it's not about the gifts, it's about the entire celebration. I love celebrating my Savior's birth!

As much as I love Christmas, I equally hate Santa! Honestly, I feel like Santa is the greatest thief in the world. He steals the spotlight from Jesus' birth year after year after year..... I will not go any further in this little tirade except to say that I know it's not Santa but Satan, the father of lies, who truly steals the spotlight but the fact that he uses a jolly old elf named Santa just makes me mad! Last night, Emily said, "Mom, what do you think of the idea that Satan and Santa have the same letters in their name?" Hmmm..... Okay, enough said....

Because I love Christmas so much, our family has many Christmas traditions that I thought I would pass on. Each year, it seems, we add a new tradition. These are not listed in any particular order, just as they come to mind.

1) All three of our kids get their "own" wrapping paper. I choose three different patterns that remind me of each child and then wrap their gifts in their paper. Some years I even manage to surprise them with their paper until the gifts are under the tree. Other years, they pick out their paper. I started doing this because I got tired of writing out gift tags but apparently this has become an important tradition in our home. Just yesterday I asked Eric (soon to be 13) if it mattered if they all had their own wrapping paper. His response, "yeah!". So, I guess this will be something I do for years to come.

2) We celebrate Advent all month long. Fourteen years ago, I found a great book called "The Story of Christmas" in Advent form. There are 24 little book that all tell part of the story of Mary and Joseph's journey and Jesus' birth. Once we had kids, that book became A LOT more fun to have! Each night we read one little book and hang it on a small tree in our hallway.
Over the years, I have added other things to read in the evening and hang on our tree. I did this mostly to stop the arguing over who got to get the book, who got to read the book and who got to hang the book on the tree (necessity is often the mother of creativity at my house). We now have four Advent readings in the evening and four different small ornaments to hang on our little tree. Aside from the books, we also have wooden stars that have 24 names of individuals directly involved in the Christmas story and we have 24 little pamphlets that have 24 names of Christ on them. Ellen has a set of paper stars that she made in Sunday School that have all the names of Jesus' lineage on them.
Though the kids are getting older, this is another tradition that they love.

3) Last year we added an Advent study to our Advent season. I found an incredible advent study on the web and printed it out. Not only does it teach the kids more and more about Christ's birth, it also teaches them how to do the Inductive Method of Bible study. There are beautiful coloring pages that go with it and so little ones can color while older ones worth through the lessons. Here is a link to the study advent study

4) Each year we make homemade Christmas ornaments. A few years ago, I took this a step further and the homemade ornaments actually have pictures of the kids from that year. We make a set for ourselves and often a set for Chad's mom.

5) Starting the first full week of December, we are involved in our community's annual toy drive. Years and years ago, my friend, Ami, began an incredible ministry to our community. For 10 days we work hard cleaning, pricing, sorting and passing out new toys and the Gospel to needy kids in our community. It is an incredible undertaking and one that you have to see to believe. Last year I think we took in over 10,000 used toys and we passed out new toys to over 1800 needy children in the area. By the end we are exhausted but it is an incredible opportunity for us to give back during this season.
I'll post more about this next week.

6) Each year the kids get new Christmas pajamas. I wrap them in their "own paper" and give them on Christmas eve. Apparently this is another tradition that you don't out grow.

7) We make our own stockings and have stocking gifts as well as gifts under the tree. On Christmas morning, we all meet in our bedroom to open the gifts in our stockings.

8) Christmas morning is slow. We open, we play, we eat hot cinnamon rolls or hot monkey bread and then open some more. I love to savor the experience!!

9) We do one home made gift. We draw names among the five of us and are required to make a gift for the person whose name you drew. You can not spend more than $10 on supplies. It's been incredible to see what the kids come up with year after year. Last year, Emily sewed me a purse out of some scrap fabric I had.

10) We also make gifts each year for our cousins. We have 10 cousins total and we make the same gift for each of them. This year it was toothbrush travel cases. Some of the gifts that we have made in years past are placemats, painted sweatshirts, I SPY bottles, soaps, monogrammed towels and Christmas poppers.

11) We do not travel on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We have family in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio. However, since Chad is a nurse, he works either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I love being able to stay home for Christmas.

12) We go to church on Christmas Eve. This has become one of my favorite times at church! The entire service is focused on the children. They perform special music, do special readings and dress up as the characters in the Christmas story. I leave with a heart full of gratitude for my Savior, His birth, my family and my church.

13) We read Luke 2:1-20 with the kids. I've read this passage so many times that I have parts memorized. It's beautiful!

As I said, I love Christmas! I would love to hear what some of your Christmas traditions are.

Blessings this season!

Luke 2:1-20 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


  1. Wonderful traditions, we have a few of the same in our house...the new PJ's on Christmas eve, the working hubby with us staying home, cinnamon rolls, mmmm. I love the idea of individual paper, I wonder if it is too late to start that with our family...hmmmmm. :O)

  2. I would love to know more about those little books Heidi! Where did you get them?
    Your family customs and traditions sound WONDERFUL! How blessed your children are to have these beautiful experiences to cherish and treasure for years to come. We open a few gifts Christmas morning...then go to Mass...and then come back home and enjoy a great big breakfast and the rest of the gifts...the rest of the day is playing, singing, music, games, preparing the feast, and lingering in the GLORY OF HIS COMING!
    I will think of your sweet family in their new PJ's this year! AND SHAWNTELE'S TOO!!!


Thank you for your kind words!