Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Traditions

It's the time of year for making memories with your little ones. When I look back to the Christmases of my childhood, it's not the massive piles of presents that I remember (and, yes, my parents definitely went overboard!). What I remember most is decorating the house with my Dad listening to the Chipmunks Christmas record. Every year, the decorations got more elaborate and I LOVED it! I also remember being allowed to skip school for one day in December and spending the whole day baking and shopping with my Mom. These are the types of memories I want to create with my children - memories that revolve around the time we spend together instead of the things they can get from us.

Here are some of the traditions we've started with our children.  I have to admit that most of them happened on accident and I hope that they'll remember them as fondly as I do my childhood Christmases.

1.  Decorating the Tree - as soon as Thanksgiving is over, my boys start asking about the tree.  They love going through all of their baby ornaments and all the things they've made through the years.

2.  Birthday Cake for Jesus - Every year we make a birthday cake for Jesus.  We use chocolate to represent the sins of the world and white icing to represent Jesus' purity covering our sin.  Here are some other additions for your cake and their symbolism.  The important thing is to give your kids a tangible way to remember the real meaning of Christmas.

3.  Gingerbread Houses/Men - My kids love to bake Gingerbread men and decorate them.  We haven't ventured into a whole house yet, but I'm hoping this year we'll get extra ambitious.

4.  Baking for Santa - We don't really emphasize Santa in our home and we certainly don't threaten them with being naughty or nice, but we do have stockings and presents from Santa.  Also, we have a special plate that we leave out with cookies and milk for Santa and carrots and food for the reindeer.  I've considered getting them an Elf on the Shelf, but honestly, that thing creeps me out!!

5.  Making Homemade Ornaments - the boys favorite ornaments are the ones we've made ourselves.  One day, I hope to have a tree for the basement and the upstairs so the boys can have a whole tree to decorate with their homemade ornaments.

6.  Christmas Breakfast with My Family - Every year, we join my family early to open presents and have Christmas breakfast.  It's really one of my favorite parts of the holiday.

7.  Setting Up the Nativity - Now that the boys are getting older, we've begun setting up the glass nativity where they can get to it.  They love using it to retell the Christmas story and it gives us a chance to tell how each of the figures was involved in the birth of Jesus.

8.  Buying for Someone Else - This has taken many forms throughout the years, (Operation Christmas Child, Adopting a Family, Angel Tree, or Toys for Tots) but we always make a point to buy gifts for someone less fortunate than us.  We feel it's important for the kids to take some time to focus on others' needs and wants.

9.  Driving Around Looking at Lights - There's nothing better than watching lights with little ones.  Their excitement and wonder is contagious. 

10.  Christmas Music - I love filling our house with Christmas music this time of year.  We actually have music (thanks to my husband) in the background every night with dinner.  I love exposing my kids to all different types of music and hearing their little voices singing along.

So, what are your family's favorite Christmas traditions?
Thanks for stopping by!  I'd love to hear from you in the comments and have you join us back again!
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