Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Christmas Traditions

(Ok, so I know it's nearly Valentine's Day, but I'm still trying to get caught up on Christmas memories! This year was such a whirlwind with our trip and everything, so I'm still about 2 months behind.) :)

Christmas is truly a magical time of year. Rich family traditions unite the family and make the season even more meaningful and memorable. I thought I'd share a few of our favorite Christmas traditions:

Each year while I was growing up, my Aunt Linda (who I admire SO much) would send a special package in November. The package would always include an advent candle and a folder filled with Christmas stories- most of which were serious tear-jerkers. I remember looking forward to this package every year. We would gather around the candle each night and my parents would read us a story while we burned the candle. Our family was very busy with musical theater rehearsals, and the usual hustle and bustle of the season, so it was really a wonderful way to help us slow down and spend some time together. I don't remember many of the stories, but I will never forget the strong spirit that was present each evening as we read. So we have continued this tradition with our own family. This year, we missed a few nights due to other activities, but that just meant we had to read longer the next night to make up for it. And we didn't let our motorhome trip stop us! We took it along with us, (and thankfully didn't burn down the motorhome.)

Then after we read the story, the kids take turns opening the Hudson service advent calendar. (I have a thing for the whole advent idea... building anticipation and excitement is SO fun for kids!) So it's nothing elaborate... just a simple act of service that is expected to be completed by the following day. Here are some examples:

Help mommy make dinner.
Draw a picture for your grandparents.
Write a thank you note for a teacher.
Pay for the person behind you at a fast food restaurant.
Shovel a neighbor's walkway (since it's pretty much guaranteed that we'll have snow here.)
Leave extra coins in a vending machine for a stranger.
Read a story to a brother or sister.
Tell each family member how much you love them.

I like how this tradition reminds us that the true spirit of Christmas is about charity- it helps us look outward and focus on serving others. I think next year I'll include a small treat in each date too... a little positive reinforcement for an act of service wouldn't hurt.

The last tradition is a new one for us. I adopted it as one of our own after hearing this poem at a Relief Society activity. I'm so thankful for inspired church leaders!

Twas the night before Christmas as I walked through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The presents had been wrapped and placed under the tree
I paused, tired, excited, and then giggled with glee.

The stockings were hanging and were beautifully filled
No one had been forgotten, though the credit card was billed.
As I looked at the scene with the stockings on the ledge.
I noticed one was empty, the one on the edge.

Where’s the Spirit of Christmas? What have I done?
The childrens stockings are all full, except for this one
It was the stocking intended for the child of Bethlehem.
The White stocking for Jesus that was hung up by them.

Of all the people at Christmas, that might be forgotten
How could I not remember the Fathers Only Begotten?
Only He had been left out of the festivities.
As we planned and prepared all, for our families.

As I pondered, I realised this just was not right!
It was His birth that was being celebrated, after this night
I resolved then and there to remember the Lord
And quickly made changes that were easy to afford.

I hung the white stocking in a special place in our home.
And corrected the atmosphere to provide a more spiritual tone.
On Christmas morning I gathered the family together
And each of us wrote on a special piece of paper,

We gave Jesus a gift which we placed in the stocking.
A sincere change of heart, not there for the mocking.
The white stocking hung in our home as a symbol for us
Of the true meaning of Christmas, the Saviour, The Lord Jesus

So take your white stocking and hang it with pride
Remember the Saviour, put his gift inside.


We had the opportunity to begin this tradition with our extended family on Christmas Day this year. After all the gifts had been exchanged, and things were settling down, we asked everyone to share a gift they'd like to give to our Savior, and Nana read them all aloud. It was a touching and sacred way to end the day. This was Benny's simple gift: "I love Jesus. Say Sorry."

I think it's so important with the increasing secularization of the Christmas season, that we seek to create lasting traditions for our families that bring us closer to each other and most importantly closer to Christ.


Jill said...

What wonderful Christmas traditions! I love how you make time in December to spend time focusing on Christ. Sure miss you and your hugs! :D

Anonymous said...

We have a cookie jar that looks like a present. On Christmas Even one of our traditions is to write our 'gift' to Jesus for that year. We've been doing it for quite awhile now. It's always fun to go back through and see what we've written. I like the idea of making it more a centerpoint though. I'll have to find a better place for it next year than under the tree. By the time Christmas comes other things are hiding it.


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