We all have traditions, especially during the holidays. Christmas has always been a much-celebrated and much-anticipated holiday in my family. My mom has always loved Christmas and passed that love on to my sister and I. A tradition my parents did with us was every Christmas Eve was we got to open 1 gift. I don’t know how old we were when we realized that the gift we got to open every year was a new ornament! My mom has always given us a new ornament every year and continues to do so, now including our husbands and kids. When David and I got married we came from 2 different families with 2 different sets of traditions. However, over the years I think we’ve settled into some traditions of our own, and are maybe making variations of the things we did growing up.

One thing we started our first year of marriage was to have an open house for the people in the church we were serving. We didn’t have family around us, and we thought it would be a good way to get to know the church people better. It’s something we have done almost every year since. We have opened it up to inviting not just our congregation but also friends within the community. We enjoy it and love opening our home up to our friends and family. The open house also forces me to get all of the Christmas cookie baking done in a timely manner! This year I made 336 cookies, which breaks down to 30 1/2 doz. I had good helpers this year with Cora and Ben, especially Cora.

Another thing we have started in the last few years is having a nice, “fancy” dinner in our home with whatever family is around on Christmas Eve before the service. Since we’re close to where my parents they have started joining us, and now we have my grandma, and if one of David’s sets of parents is up for Christmas then they’re with us. We try to do something a little different–a nicer cut of meat, some kind of special side dish (like red wine marinated mushrooms–YUM!!!!) and a fancy dessert. We just want it to be extra special. We’re all dressed up in our Christmas duds for the service, and so we take some nice photos too. I really look forward to this dinner and then going to the Christmas Eve service afterward.

Our kids are young so we haven’t established too many things with them yet. We’re still having to go with the flow when it comes to decorating the tree and such. However, one thing we have been consistent with is lighting our Advent candle. We light the new  candle on it’s corresponding Sunday, and then light it again during supper or at breakfast. We go over the names of the different candles (hope, peace, joy, love, Christ) and talk about said candle briefly. Again, something we really enjoy doing, and something we hope will help keep our family focused on Christ during Christmas.

Going along with that, we’re trying hard to keep Christmas simple and as untainted by commercialism as possible. We don’t make a big deal about Santa (in fact, Cora knows he’s make believe), and we try to keep wish lists and such to a minimum. Yes, we get the kids gifts, and yes they get gifts from other family and friends, but we try very hard in our home to keep it to a minimum. We want them to know the real reason and meaning of Christmas–that Christ coming as a baby is so much more significant then a one day celebration. We want them to start realizing and learning that Christmas is setting up for the climax of Easter!

What are things you do in your family? What are traditions you’ve started with your kids? I’d love to hear them! I think we can always learn a lot from what other people do!

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