I’m unabashedly a tradition junkie. I can point out endless times in my life where I did something and decided in the first moment it would be a tradition for the rest of my life. It turns out my follow through? Well, it lacks a little.
I’m always a little delighted to see what actually does stick around. I’m never surprised to find that it’s usually the most simple that have a way of showing up over and over again. The small things squirm in and nestle in the small corners of our life and take up residence in our hearts. These are the traditions that shape our days, and then eventually our lives.
Do you ever sit around and think about what your kids will remember from their childhood? Without a doubt, Christmas rings out loud and clear above the clamor of the daily grind for most kids. Maybe that’s why it feels so worthy of cultivating simple, meaningful memories around this time of year.
Honestly? Most of the traditions we have picked up have been a hodge-podge of my family, Russ’ family, our friends, and strangers on the internet. We just keep throwing stuff in and some sticks and some doesn’t. So I thought it’d be fun to share some of our favorites here, and maybe you could share some of your favorites with me? You never know, one might stick!
Christmas Crafts to Deck the Tree:
Okay, I’m starting way out of the box, but I promise most of mine will be more traditional. Years ago I wanted a beautiful themed Christmas tree. And then we had kids and that seemed less magical. So we tried the annual Christmas ornament thing, but ornaments kept getting broken, and decking the tree became a whole day ordeal that, in all reality, wasn’t much fun.
So now? We do a couple of crafts each week of Advent that coincide with our Advent celebration and we stick them on the tree as we go. I love that it’s a slow build, that it’s all handmade, and that it all has some meaningful purpose. Most of all I love that at the end of the season we take a picture and then it all gets tossed. (I know, I’m sorry, I’m not very sentimental) It leaves us with both the beautiful memory and room to grow in the next year.
Years ago, Lora Lynn Fanning talked about lighting a candle for every night of Advent to physically demonstrate how Jesus was the light of the world. Considering my obsession with light and Jesus as the light it’s not surprising that this one stuck. What is slightly more surprising? It’s the single thing my kids long most for when Christmas is approaching. Way back in the beginning of November they started asking when we could get the Christmas candles out.
For years we just put a bunch of pillar candles, tapers, and votives on a placemat, but last year my husband made a beautiful Advent candle holder. Cheese a crackers by candlelight? Turns out that makes the whole season feel special and magical.
I’ve stressed people out with this before, but we don’t do gifts for our kids. And they don’t mind. They have grand parents that get them gifts, and really? Their favorite thing about gifts is making them. A few years ago my sister-in-law suggested we have all the cousins draw names and make gifts for each other. It was so fun and exciting. So even when they moved away, I decided to have my kids draw each others’ names and make gifts for one another.
They spend their entire fall planning what they will make and who they will enlist to help them accomplish it. (Sewing with my friend Suzanne is a favorite. Probably because of all the tea and scones they get over there!) On Christmas morning each of my kids gets to hand deliver a present to sibling that was created for them. It really is amazing.
Christmas Light Viewing:
There are about a million activities going on during the Christmas season and sometimes you just want to CHILL OUT. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve found ourselves pouring out hot beverages, loading up the car, cranking up Bing Crosby, and just driving around. It’s the world’s easiest slow down. Somehow it provides both the thrill and the chill so desperately longed for in this season.
Okay, now it’s your turn, what is your favorite Christmas tradition?