Saturday, November 30, 2013

10 Fun Christmas Traditions

Christmas is fast approaching, but our family always enjoys taking it slowly. We don't go with the hustle & rush, the spend until you are broke theory. We tend to go more down the line of thoughts being on giving & the greatest gift we were given, thus why we choose to celebrate.

I was recently debating adding in a new tradition for my family which got me thinking about many of our older traditions as well. Which left me thinking that I really should jot them all down for keepsake purposes. So, here's our Christmas Traditions:

1. The Jesse Tree -- We aren't Catholic, but this has been a long standing tradition since my boys were quite small. The idea was to focus on the promise that was given to man after the fall in the Garden Of Eden. I also rather liked the way it kept my children's eye on the reason we choose to celebrate. When we first started a Jesse Tree we used paper ornaments & a dowel stick tree, but eventually I made the lovely quilted wall hanging & clay ornaments. We've used the devotional {simply reading scripture} from Ann Voskamp for years, well before it was free & updated. We always start this the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

2. Cinnamon Rolls -- This tradition has been long standing since before my boys were born. I was actually heavily pregnant with Morgan the first year these made their apperance. The boys recently asked why we have them each year & the story was told. It's nothing major. I was reading one of the Dianne Mott Davidson mystery books & she had this amazing recipe inside for Monster Cinnamon Rolls, I wanted to try making them, but there were only two of us. I can't remember if I mentioned them to Mom or not, but both she & my husband said I should make them. I did. They were requested every year after.

3. Ornament Swap -- While using the Five In A Row curriculum we joined up for the annual Christmas Ornament Swap one year, & ever after we've just kept right on joining. In fact, we've been organising it the past couple of years as well. My boys really look forward to this & our pile of ornaments has certainly grown over the years.

4. Count Down Calendars -- We have a homemade one that is Reindeer heads. When I first made it my boys were considerably younger & I stuffed it with activities to do for the month. They loved it & beg for it each year. The activities we do are things we'd normally do in December, but we spread them out this way. It tells us when to decorate the tree, when they get to go shopping for each other, & so on. Last year I started putting lego in it which was a fun thing for them as they tried to work out what on earth I'd put in there!

5. Nativity Box Cookies -- One year when Morgan was still a baby I had this brilliant idea to make a box of cookies which represented each part of the Nativity. My plan didn't happen because, let's face it, when you have a baby your hands are pretty full. I tried again the following year & only got half the biscuits made, the receivers still enjoyed them. The third year I came up with a better idea. I'd have my, now toddler, help me make a cookie for the box each week starting in October. We'd pop them in the freezer & pull them all out on Christmas Eve to box them up & deliver to neighbors. This worked wonders & the neighbors were all delighted to get a lovely box of homemade goodies. We also give one box to each family we see on Christmas as well.

6. Scented Ornaments -- As a young Mom I was also a big subscriber to the Family Fun Magazine, way back before it changed hands & format. One year I saw a lovely idea to make cinnamon scented ornaments & trace your child's hand to make the ornaments more personal. That year I made a single batch of dough & had a lot left over, so I went crazy with cookie cutters. When Jayden joined the family I eventually needed a batch & a half. Over the years the amount needed has often grown & a few years ago we didn't make any at all as obtaining the right glue here is difficult. These were often used as package toppers for the grandparents & aunties. They are well loved keepsakes, & you'll often see some hanging on my own home walls.

7. Visiting the Lights -- It's not really any lights in particular, but in Australia you can't just drive down any street & see Christmas Lights. Here's the thing, in Australia in December there's still light sometimes at 9-10pm around here. Yet, there are some amazing people who don't care & go with it anyway. We love those people, & visit their homes each year. We've been in a neighborhood for the past couple of years that has two homes with fascinating displays. So much so we often don't need lights even once the sun is officially set. You can check your local papers for locations of beautiful light displays.

8. Jotham, Bartholomew, & Tabitha -- There are three completely different stories that cross over each other. They are written so you can read them over Advent, but again we read them starting from November 30th each year, one chapter a day until we reach the end of the book. We simply rotate between the three books reading first Jotham's Journey, then Bartholomew's Passage, & then Tabitha's Travels. These have been a big hit with my boys who were delighted to see there's one out for Easter as well.

9. The Christmas Mystery -- A few years ago while in the library at the end of November I noticed a book on the shelf called The Christmas Mystery. The book was broken down so you read 1 chapter every day from December 1 - December 25. Over the course of the book you meet many people from the Nativity as the mystery unfolds about a long lost little girl. The boys loved the story & now pester me each year to pick it up from the library before someone else gets t it first. I bought it this year, much to the delight, so they don't have to worry about someone else getting to it before them. After all, it's time someone else in our state had a chance to read it!

10. Christmas Chain -- We've often had countdown chains for a variety of things going around, but for Christmas we have a lovely cloth one we hang up & printed on the inside of each chain is a Bible reading for the day.