Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Highlights of Favorite Christmas Traditions

Glade Jul by Viggo Johansen, 1891 (more beautiful Christmas art)

Here are some of our favorite Christmas traditions, and we pray they point our children's hearts, as well as ours, towards Christ. What are some of your favorite traditions?

In late November every year we pack a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. It's fun as the kids get older and are able to pick out and pack the shoe boxes themselves. 

Last year, we cut down our first real tree. I grew up always going to a Tree Farm and cutting our own tree, but I think we decided we will go to a tree lot for a few years until the kids are older, and just get a pre-cut tree. :)

We spent a morning decorating our tree while watching kiddy Christmas movies

St. Nick's Day

We don't "do Santa", but we celebrate St. Nick's Day and explain the traditional version of the real St. Nick. We play "St. Nick" and put a few gifts outside the door on St. Nick morning. These are usually gifts that are Advent related and point to Christ. 

Our favorite holiday activity is Alpine Village at Trinity Baptist Church

The girls usually make a homemade gift for family members. This year we made ginger spice ornaments. 

...While also making and eating gingerbread cookies. A favorite holiday treat!

Christmas Eve Service

We enjoy an Advent devotional every night throughout Advent. We also light our Advent wreath weekly/nightly. This year we're using the Family Advent Art and Reading Guide from Story Warren to correspond with the Jesus Storybook Bible for our family Advent time. 

Also during Advent we learn a few Christmas Hymns and on Christmas Eve we sing several together

pardon the sideways pic: Putting our paper ornaments on the Advent Tree

Christmas Eve family picture

On Christmas morning we have a Happy Birthday Jesus celebration with bunting and balloons, gifts for Jesus, and a big birthday breakfast

One of the kiddos nativity scenes. We've started a bit of a collection and are up to 6 nativity scenes so far. 

After breakfast Daddy does a nativity activity or story. This is What Does God Want For Christmas? (The answer is You ;)

Visual representation of our gifts for Jesus...giving to the least of these

We wrap up those pieces of paper and the kids open them "for Jesus". We do this after the Nativity activity usually. 
(This year "Jesus" was an Asian Cabbage Patch doll. We don't discriminate ;) Don't worry, the kids know this isn't really Jesus and that he has much darker skin.) 

Then the kiddos get to open their gifts. Last year we moved from no gifts to a   3 Gift Christmas tradition. Gold: something valuable or something they want. Frankincense: something spiritual. Myrrh:  something for the body

These are some Christmas traditions that I hope to continue. We try to keep things fun, simple, and focused on Christ. We spend a lot of time listening to Christmas music and hymns, reading quality Christmas books, and doing simple Advent devotionals. This year we're using the Family Advent Art and Reading Guide with Jesus Storybook Bible and Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski (with Brooklyn). I've loved the resource by Noel Piper, Treasuring God in Our Traditions. 

May you treasure Christ in your traditions this Christmas. 

Our Shutterfly Christmas Book from last year...