Monday, January 3, 2011

christmas traditions

Traditions are big on my list of "things I want to accomplish as a parent".  I think some of comes out of my being from a broken family as a child.  When you are living between two homes, traditions are difficult to maintain.
I have loved creating traditions for our family!  Sometimes they have been hard to stand by, but just like daily rhythms, yearly rhythms are important and worthwhile.  Here are some of the things we enjoy doing.

Operation Christmas Child

We have enjoyed supporting this ministry every year since Moonpie was very young.  Our children choose to buy for either a boy or a girl, and the age range.  They generally choose a child of their same sex and age.  We buy small gifts and necessities that will fit in the shoe boxes.  They get to choose the gifts that go in their box.  This is such a tangible way to teach giving to someone else that lives somewhere far, far away.  When we pack the boxes we like to talk about where our boxes are going (the globe comes in handy here!) and what we think the recipients will like best.  We for sure thought the favorite this year would be the Groucho Marx glasses!

I have loved observing Advent with my family.  The celebration of the coming of Emmanuel.  Advent has been so very special to us over the years.  It has really helped to settle our holiday restlessness.  It has almost been like a slow, deep breath.
John typically comes up with the scripture we study each Sunday evening over a feast and lit candles.  Throughout the week we do a Jesse Tree during our school time.  (We have found a beautiful one on A Holy Experience.)

Handmade gifts
made this year:

  • spicy chocolate bark (inspired by Maya Made)- our changes- organic dried cherries, no pepitas, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  OH MY!!!
  • oat bath (inspired by Maya Made)- our changes- added lavender to some, added calendula to some

  • sailboats for buddy (carved by daddy, sails by me)
  • wool felt puppets for the nephews
  • daddy made oak puppet stands for the nephews
  • lip balm

  • daddy made bird house from reclaimed lumber
here you can see the unfinished sail boats and puppet stands as well
  • pajamas
  • crispy nuts
  • sibling gifts

Reusable gift wrapping

Every year I have fun trying to come up with some kind of renewable gift wrap option.  This year I had lots of fun with thrifted and antiqued tins.  They were perfect the consumable gifts we gave (coffee, chocolate bark, crispy nuts, lip balm, soap, oat bath) and very easy to come by.

Christmas festivities

We are so fortunate to have a very large family that lives near enough for us to see every Christmas.  Because we have four sets of grandparents, our kids get FIVE Christmases!  We always like to begin the celebrating here at home before we travel down to Houston to see everyone.
We decided this year to celebrate our own Christmas on Dec. 22.  That set our "Christmas Eve" on Dec. 21- winter solstice!  We went out that afternoon to celebrate my birthday (which falls on the real Christmas Eve) and then spent that evening making chocolate bark, roasting up marshmallows and opening Christmas jammies.  The next morning we woke up and had our Christmas.  On the 23rd we headed down to Houston and moved from home to home until the 25th when we came back to our home!  We always spend Christmas Eve night with my dad and step-mom.  We go to the service at their church and then spend that night with them.  This is the one tradition from our childhood that we have observed consistently.  I am so glad we have stuck with it!  People always ask me if it's lame to have a birthday on Christmas Eve.  I have to admit that I love getting to be with my family on my birthday- so if that means not really getting to celebrate the day of, then I'll take it.

(Here are 2 out of the 4 houses represented in pictures. The other 2 homes are somewhere on John's computer!)

Aunt Sara and Moonpie

Hanging out with cousin Jack

My sister and our grandmother

Front row: brother, sister in law (my nephew in her lap), Buddy, my sister (with Moonpie in her lap)
Second row:  me, John, my dad and step-mom

Another thing we like doing the week before Christmas is visiting our nursing home.  With my bout with bronchitis this year, we didn't make it.

Well- that is a little peek into what we do around here for Christmas.  It makes me a little tired looking at it all at once!

I have so enjoyed getting to see how all of you spent your holiday as well!


Corin said...

Wow, those are some awesome Christmas traditions!! I think I should follow your lead on on few of those ;)

Happy New Year!!

Cheryl said...

I'm big on traditions too. We are still in the process of figuring out where we want to be and when and with who's family. This year was really perfect! We did lots of visiting, eating, opening presents, canasta games with all the families and never felt stressed or rushed. That is such a blessing, as you know! I made lots of gifts, did thrifty yet AWESOME Christmas shopping, and for the most part did all the baking and traditional stuff with the boys. It was really the perfect Christmas. I think I should blog about it now that I'm reliving it here! =)
Happy belated birthday, sweet friend! And hope your new year is off to a great start!

Amanda said...

What a very full Christmas!! Wonderful traditions and so many lovely homemade gifts!

Happy belated birthday, Mandi!