Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions - A Picnic under the tree

Traditions are huge for our family. I am convinced that this is a way to unite us as a family and to woo my children's hearts.
Noel Piper said in her book Treasuring God in our Traditions, that "in Deuteronomy 11 (is) the essence, the core, or traditions for God's people" ""You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul"" (vs 18). The things we do regularly that help us in our deepest being to know and love and want God, the things that help our lives to be infiltrated with God - those things are traditions. And then if there are children in our lives, to pass the God-focused activities to the next generation - that's what tradition is for a Christian."

This season, I wanted to share some of our traditions with you to spur you on to begin some of your own. Not all of our traditions in and of themselves are "spiritual." But the bigger picture behind them all is always about our children knowing God and His great love for them. Our first tradition of the season begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. As a family we put up and decorate our Christmas tress. Then we spend some time in the kitchen as a family. John and I cook some of our favorite appetizers and the boys decorate cookies. For dinner we have a picnic under the Christmas tree. We turn off all the lights but the tree and a few candles and we eat our cooked goodies. We spend some time chatting with the boys (as much as they could understand now) about the true meaning of Christmas. Then we get out our special ornaments from the previous years and discuss the meanings behind each of them - remembering. After our dinner the boys open 2 gifts from us and then there are 2 more gifts under the tree. This is what those gifts consist of:
1. An ornament - John and I decide on an ornament that reminds us of something that happened in that child's life for the year. A big event, a big obsession, a favorite song that lasted all year long, a silly saying that they have said forever. It is a symbol of a memory that we don't want to forget. I have a mini scrapbook and I take a pic of the ornament and will write the reasoning behind that ornament in it so we can always remember why Brady got a rooster for his 3rd Christmas, for example. When the kids get a little older I want them to participate in this tradition, buying an ornament for their siblings that has a memory attached to it.
2. A Christmas Book - each year we also pick out a Christmas book to build them a collection of Christmas books to have as adults but to enjoy as a child and to be able to one day tell their children about how we read those books to them every Christmas as a child.
3. John and I try to take turns buying an ornament for us - just one ornament and we switch out who buys it (we try to do this). I don't want all of our Christmas to be just about the kids for several reasons. First of all, we were a family before the boys joined us and we will be a family after they leave and cleave with their spouses one day. Second, it is just fun and I don't want my tree to be absent of memories when the kids take their ornaments to their house to share with their family.
4. A Christmas movie - We just get one movie for us to keep at our house for our kids to enjoy but for our grand kids one day. Then our boys can bring their kids home and say we watched this video when we were little kids - and then all 3 generations can watch it together.

So after we open our gifts, put the ornaments on the tree and read the books, we eat the cookies the boys decorated during the day and we watch our new Christmas video - this year it is Max and Ruby's Christmas. This night is soooo fun and just writing about it makes me ready for it to be here. It is a precious night to me and I know that my boys feel completely loved and thought of as we give them their ornament and recall some of our favorite memories of each of them this year. Hope you are inspired - try it I promise you will be hooked.


April Brown said...

Those are all great ideas!! I can't wait to tell JerBear so we can think through our night!! Thanks for the thoughts!

love and miss you!

Matt, Carrie and Lucy Allen said...

thanks for sharing! i love hearing about traditions and the meanings for each family-that makes the holidays so special and meaningful..ya'll are doing a great job!!

The Kelly Family said...

Great stuff Amy! It's now Saturday, so I hope last night was wonderful! By the way, I need 2 more "jersey prints" for my 2 newest boys!!! I still have Bryce and Ethan's on their wall - it is the focal decoration! LOVE IT! love you and miss you

Lindsey said...

wonderful ideas! sounds like a great family night. i hope your night was great. looking forward to hearing the rest.

Kristin said...

LOVE this! We give those very same gifts, but I've never thought about making it all one fun "ceremony" preparing for Christmas. Thanks, Amy! This is just GREAT!