Thursday, December 8, 2011

12 Traditions of Christmas

Day 2!  Traditions and Christmas go together like Cookies & Milk...Santa & Rudolph....Snow & Snowmen.  Traditions are perhaps one of my favorite parts of the season.  I love the sense of family and memories they evoke.  Here are my 12 favorite traditions, in random order. 

Deck the Halls!
It's always been tradition to decorate our home Thanksgiving weekend. 
I found several years ago it was the perfect window to get it completed
before the chaos of the season approached.
As this was our last activity with Austin before he passed,
 it is now bittersweet, but filled with special memories.

A Little Bling
Our tree is adorned with special individual and yearly memory ornaments. 
Although the tree has a decorative theme,
these are what makes the tree treasured.
More on this topic at a future "12 days" post!

Twas' the Night Before Christmas
Several years ago, we committed to spending Christmas Eve at home. 
It's our special day to be together as a family
celebrating the holiday stress and travel free.
We wear PJs all day, stuff ourselves from sunrise to sunset,
watch movies and play games.
We also let the kids pick one gift to open that night.

Country Ham and Gravy
After our Christmas morning presents are opened, and still in our PJs,
we drive to Mom's for a big country breakfast.
I look forward to this meal all year!  By this point, we are normally tired of the traditional turkey/ham/dressing so this is the perfect alternative.  My mouth is already watering thinking about it!

I Believe!
As long as you believe, Santa still visits. 
Over the years he's left footprints in the snow,
crumbs on the plate, and even letters behind. 
Austin discovered the "truth" about 5th grade,
 but still believed for Noah's (and his) sake.
One year, I even let him stay up and help "Santa" stuff
his little brother's stocking - but not his own!
At nearly 12, Noah still puts on a good act,
even placing the traditional cookies,
milk and carrots (for Rudolph) by the fireplace. 
And I', Santa, plans to leave surprises for years to come!

Kids Tree
About seven years ago, we started doing a Kid's Tree in the kitchen.
Using our original tree we bought our first Christmas, the boys would
decorate it with all their homeade ornaments through the years. 
It also contained old fashioned ornaments we'd do each year,
like popcorn strands, paper chains and pine cones. 
The "star" is made with their hand prints.
Some years it's been too hard on Noah to put up this tree
without his brother but its a treasured tradition either way.

Cookie Gifts
Noah and I set aside time to bake for one complete day before Christmas . 
Our entire day is filled with baking cookies and other treats,
mostly to give away.
We've done this for years, often before school closes,
so that teachers can receive them too.
This was one of Austin's favorite activities.  He was excited his last Christmas season with us, as he had big plans to treat several new teachers and friends from the high school.  Sadly he left us before he had a chance so I sent a box to his teachers that year with notes letting them know they were from him.

Story Time
My Grandma Coons always begins her Christmas gathering by
 reading the story of the birth of Jesus.
I have so many memories of sitting cross-legged at her feet,
listening to those familiar scriptures.
She's always helped remind us the true reason for the season!

Let there be Light!
Throughout the season we enjoy the lights in neighborhoods we drive through.
At least once before Christmas we'll pile up in the truck,
complete with blankets, pjs and homeade hot cocoa to view them thoroughly. 
Christmas music plays in the background as we gaze at the twinkling displays.

We started this new tradition last Christmas but it's
 one we're sure to continue for years to come.
You can read more by clicking the link above but basically we opted to discontinue buying presents for all the kiddos at Mom's and instead bring wrapped crafts to do with them.  They love it and so do we!
Presents last a moment....memories last a lifetime!

3 Gifts
This is a new tradition I'm considering starting next year. 
I just haven't decided which option to go with.
One of my friends does three presents for everyone
but each represent a gift from the wisemen. 
One is something useful, one is something valuable, one is something treasured
From others I've just heard, "Three was good enough for baby Jesus"
and in a spirit of less is more, I agree!

It's Better to Give
Our family has long "adopted" a family in need
or helped children from the Angel Tree.
I don't know of any better gift at Christmas than to
share God's love and abundance with others.
It's a tradition we've always treasured and been grateful
for the opportunities to give.

What are your family traditions for Christmas?


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