What are your favorite Christmas traditions?
We have some serious traditions and some silly traditions. If I ask my children what their favorite Christmas tradition is, I am sure they would all scream out “Banana Splits!” We have banana splits for breakfast on Christmas morning. Obviously, this is one of our silly traditions. Why do we have banana splits for breakfast? Because it’s fun. And because it’s easier on Momma and Daddy than making those Christmas trees out of french toast and sausage links, like we did for a couple of years.
We usually do a construction paper chain count-down with red and green paper. Each piece of paper has the name of a person or family for whom we can pray. Each night before bed from Dec. 1 until Christmas Eve, we take off a link and pray for the names on the paper. This year, though, I saw a nice wooden advent box at Target with 24 little doors. I think it’s designed for candy or tiny presents, but I think it would be ideal for stashing the names of people or things we can pray for.
We also do an advent nightly devotional throughout the month of December. It’s nice to take our time and go through the Christmas story bit by bit with the children.
Of course, there is also a lot of goody-making in our home. Last year, I let each of the big children help me make some holiday treat. This was nice one-on-one time, and it was also easier than having four little helpers in the kitchen at once. I think we’ll continue this tradition.
Usually, one night, we get the children in their pajamas, load them into the car, and go ooh and aaah over Christmas lights together.
We also started a tradition of giving gifts to Samaritan’s Purse in honor of people in our lives. We buy things from the catalog, which go to people in need around the world. We usually buy soccer balls in honor of our children’s soccer coaches and send cards thanking them and letting them know about the gift in their honor. We also do this as a gift for our grandparents (our children’s great-grandparents). We try to make it as personal as possible, instead of just “I donated money to Samaritan’s Purse in your name.” So l have a grandmother who gets cold easily and sits wrapped in a blanket most of the time. Last year, we bought blankets in her name for children in poor countries. After so many children, I have a pretty good relationship with my OB/GYN. He is WONDERFUL! Last year, we saw the midwife training/prenatal care gift in the Samaritan’s Purse catalog and bought that in honor of my OB/GYN and sent him and his staff a card. This is probably my favorite tradition because it doesn’t have much to do with us and it’s probably most in keeping with the true spirit of the season. (Even though ice cream and hot fudge for breakfast are pretty wonderful.) 🙂
Like a lot of other people, we also give each of our children one new ornament each year for Christmas. When they grow up and leave home, they should have a nice collection of ornaments to take with them.
In our family, each child gets a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve. This counts as one of their three gifts, but it’s nice to know that our boys will be wearing pj’s with tops and bottoms that actually match in the pictures on Christmas morning.
We also have the tradition that the kids come crawl into bed with us on Christmas morning before anyone goes into the living room to check out the stockings. We snuggle and read the Christmas story and pray together. This is one of my favorite moments of the year. I know the snuggling won’t be quite the same as the kids get bigger, so I’m really trying to savor this now that they’re small.
The thing I like most about all of our traditions is that they’re all flexible. If at some point, these traditions aren’t working for us anymore, we can change things around. Last year, Christmas was on a Sunday. Trying to do all the traditional Christmas morning things and get to church would just be nuts. So we pretended Christmas was on Saturday. We got up and did all the Christmas morning traditions on Saturday the 24th.
Now, lest you all think Christmastime is picture-perfect in our household, I will say that often the cookies burn and the kids are wiggly during those advent devotions and someone whines that he can’t see all the beautiful lights from his carseat. Our tree has fallen over and some precious keepsake ornaments have broken — twice, at least. But I think we are making memories and we’re enjoying a lot of layers of the Christmas season. And since we try to celebrate Christ’s Incarnation every day throughout the year, I feel free to enjoy the cookie-baking and light-gazing and gift-wrapping and house-decorating that is the magic of this time of the year with my family.
I’d love to hear your traditions. Whatever they are, however you celebrate, I hope you know the One Whose birth we celebrate. He’s far more than a baby lying in a manger. He longs to be in a relationship with you — as your Lord, as your Savior, as your Friend, as your Comforter, as your Provider, as your Everything.