Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas!! More than just the gift giving and all that, but how everything changes (homes, stores, weather). I also love the traditions that are wrapped up in Christmas. Three years ago I bought a book called To Dance with God by Gertrud Mueller Nelson. She takes the Christian calendar and writes about each holiday and the traditions that her family celebrated with each season. I have been making a list of what traditions I want to start. Some of them I enacted immediately like St.Nicholas Day (see this post and this post). Others are slowly making their way into our rotation.

I recently read a blog post that has got me thinking about what we celebrate at Christmas. I am not going to write about the consumerism and materialistic tendencies of our culture (but if you want to go get coffee and chat about it I would love it). I want to share with you ways that we are trying to be intentional with our traditions as well as the way we live out what we believe.

Christmas is exciting. Yes presents are fun, but I think it is all the waiting and time together that makes this time of year magic. I hesitate to use that word because it has lost a bit of its charm but it does feel like MAGIC to me.

We are waiting for this babe wrapped in swaddling clothes to come and bring healing, hope, and life. To bind up our wounds and to make us whole. I think that is the magic. This is the basis of what we are building our Christmas on. We don't intend to throw out Santa or the legend of St. Nicholas, but I also want my children to see Christmas as a time to be together, to give and to share not just a time to get what we want.

Some New Traditions:

I mentioned earlier St. Nicholas Day, which is December 6th. It is a time when we set out our shoes and St. Nicholas fills them with goodies. This is a great time to include Santa without everything revolving around him.

Jesse's Tree is a tradition I am eager to start. There are many great templates online to make the ornaments as well as readings. This is a great activity to lead up to Christmas Day. Each day/week at dinner you read about a prophet starting from the beginning leading up to the birth of Christ. For each person you make an ornament. For example Moses could be fire because of the burning bush. I am going to try and make the ornaments through out the year next year so we can have them for next Christmas.

Sunday Christmas Movie Madness is a tradition we started last year when we lived with the Hannon family. Each Sunday night someone got to pick a Christmas movie and make their favorite Christmas snack. It was a great way to end the weekend and we had a great time, except for Mikey's pick of Ernest Saves Christmas.

Another tradition that we are starting this year is incorporating the nativity into our season of Advent. In To Dance with God, she talks of having a manger and each time someone in the family does something nice they get a few pieces of hay. Hay, you ask? Yes, hay. The hay is for the manager, a way to anticipate the coming of Jesus. As the season moves on, the manager gets cozier. Gertrud's family also only puts out Mary, Joseph, and the Shephards. Baby Jesus appears on Christmas. In the meantime the Wise Men move around until Epiphany. (I love this.) Each day the wise men are in a new spot in the house.

The last tradition I want to share is the Christmas Eve meal. On Christmas Eve you read the Christmas Story and your meal corresponds with the story. The menu includes:

Shephard's Pie- the shephards
Pigs in a blanket- Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes
Caesar salad- Caesar was in power at the time
Angel food cake- the angels

I am sure these will change and we will create new traditions as our kids get older and have more input. We want our children to remember this time as being shared together. I get it will be about stuff to them at times, but largely I want them to know how Christmas is rooted in love, giving, and community...things that last more than a season.