Note from Jenae: Throughout the month of December, I’ll be sharing posts by several of my favorite bloggers about their favorite family traditions surrounding Christmas. I firmly believe that traditions help shape our children’s memories of their childhood and draw us closer together as a family. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have!
“Celebrations are the ritualized interruptions in the continuum of daily life which remind us who we are, where we came from and where we are going.” -Milo Shannon-Thornberry
Tradition shared by Stacie of Motherhood on a Dime
I never really gave a thought to Christmas traditions.
Oh, I knew there were some things we did every year when I was growing up, but I never really thought about them as being meaningful or important . . . until the Christmas after my dad died. I was 27 with an almost four-month-old daughter, and we were getting ready to celebrate her first Christmas.
It was during that time I began to realize how important those *little* traditions were in my life. For instance, we would beg, beg, beg my dad every Christmas Eve to let us open just one gift. He would say no. We would beg. He would say no. We would beg. Finally, he would ALWAYS give in and let us open one present. He loved it as much as we did!
I realize it’s just a silly little thing, but I miss it so much. When I think back to all of those small, but ever-present traditions, I realize how much we need (and crave) those kind of sure, unchanging events in our lives.
And that’s why I’ve been very intentional about setting up some Christmas traditions with my daughters. While I could list many, here are three of our favorites:
1) New Ornaments
Every November, I begin the search for a new ornament for each of my girls. I look for something special—something that tells a story about her year. For example, it may be something she became proficient at or loved to do. Then, I write down the story behind the ornament and share why we picked that particular one.
When we set up our Christmas tree each December, it’s such a memorable time to hang each ornament and discuss why it was given. We have bikes, pianos, dancing shoes, sleeping bears (given once the babies learned to sleep through the night!), reading figurines, artists, and more adorning our branches.
Once the girls grow up, I will pass on the stories and ornaments to them (if I can bear to let them go)!
2) Birthday Party
Although there are several ways we try to focus our attention on Jesus during the Christmas season, this one seems to be a favorite among the girls.
We have a full-blown birthday party for Jesus — complete with candles, cake, and birthday hats! We sing Happy Birthday, play some Christmas music, and read the Christmas story. This year, we also plan to purchase gifts for babies (bottles, sleepers, toys, etc.) and donate them to a local shelter or crisis pregnancy center.
3) Three Christmas Gifts
As a mom, I find it so tempting to over-buy for my children at Christmas . . . the deals are great and the toys look so fun! While I never went completely overboard, I confess that the first few years of my oldest daughter’s life, I did buy a few extra gifts and didn’t stick to a budget. Unfortunately, “going all out” for Christmas caused unnecessary stress. Instead of simplifying my life, it left me with a messy house and more stuff to take care of and fix. It left me with less money and an uneasy feeling that I had wasted resources instead of stewarding them wisely. It taught my daughter that I believed Christmas was really about the gifts.
Several years after that, my husband and I really wanted to turn the focus back to Christ at Christmas. We wanted to focus less on *stuff* and more on our faith, so we made the decision to limit the number of gifts we give to our children. The girls now receive three gifts from us—and we talk about how Jesus received three gifts after He was born. For us, it has simply been a way to draw the attention back to Jesus instead of to the gifts.
We look for one present from each of these categories of gifts:
1) Extravagant: This gift could be a bicycle, doll house, video game system, or other higher-value gift. We may also buy just one big family gift for everyone. It’s a gift that isn’t a necessity.
2) Practical: Clothing, shoes, school curriculum, and books are just a few of the practical items we’ve given over the years.
3) Spiritual: We also try to give the girls one item to encourage spiritual growth throughout the year. It could be a Bible, Bible study, CD with hymns, or a DVD of some sort.
My hope and prayer is that one day my children will have wonderful memories of our family traditions…and maybe even carry them on into their own families!
Do you have any of these traditions?
Stacie is married to her college sweetheart and has three little girls. She loves bargain-hunting, jogging, attempting to simplify her life, and reading. When she’s not blogging at MotherhoodOnADime.com, she’s trying out a new family tradition for Advent, teaching her girls, and learning to cook gluten-free. She recently released her first eBook entitled Thanksgiving Heart: Cultivating Gratitude in Young Children All Year Round.