Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Traditions

It's Christmas time again. Is it just me or does this time of year get here faster and faster every year. I can't believe it is already only 11 days until Christmas. I still have so much to do, that I want to do. Everything from shopping to crafts to watching that Christmas special on TV. And did I mention Christmas cards? Oh yeah, I almost forgot about those. But that's only the busy part of Christmas, there is so much more.

This time of year I think a lot about traditions. I also think a lot about my Christmases as a kid. I loved this time of year growing up. It was always so special to me. Now that I'm a mom, I am finding I want Zoey to experience Christmas a lot like I did. That isn't entirely possible of course because she isn't me, but I want to do many of the traditions that we did as a family when I was young.

The funny part is that growing up I didn't really see them as traditions. To me traditions were stuffy things you did because someone told you to. Now that I'm older and a mom, I think back on all of the activities we did each year with love and longing. Stephen said it best: the best traditions are the ones you never realize you are making. I think he is right. Now that I'm on the mom-side of Christmas I am seeing the things we do as a family as our own traditions. I am enjoying every minute of it.

Some of our traditions:

Zoey helping Stephen get the tree ready.

Getting a Christmas Tree: This is a tradition that is actually Stephen's. We get a real Christmas tree together and set it up and decorate it. When I was growing up, we always had a fake tree. In fact, we only ever had two different trees that entire time I lived with my parents (about 18 years). My first real Christmas tree was actually the first Christmas Stephen and I were together. We still have the trunk cut from that tree as an ornament marking my first real Christmas tree. I really like this tradition because it involves the whole family. I even enjoy watching Stephen and Zoey put the tree up together and hearing Stephen grumble at getting the lights on it. Then I feel like I'm in a cloud while we put ornaments on it.

Zoey finding her box for the day.

25 Boxes of Christmas: This is a unique tradition, one that I did when I was a kid. My parents got me a little advent calendar of sorts that was 25 boxes in a sleeve that you pull one out everyday and inside is a little treasure. Growing up it was things like pencils, erasers, a piece of candy. Once or twice a week it would be something bigger like an activity pad or something small like that. Whenever the treasure wouldn't fit in the box, there would be a note with a treasure clue on it. That was my favorite. I remember waking up in the morning and running to my box to find my treasure and counting down the days until Christmas. This is one tradition that I said, even when I was a kid, that I would pass on to my kids. And I have. We no longer have the boxes, they are long since destroyed, but I keep the idea alive by wrapping up a little treasure in a box and putting it under the Christmas tree. Now Zoey runs out in the morning insisting the tree to light up and to find her treasure. This is one that I wonder as a mom if I am encouraging the materialism of the season with this tradition. However, I turned out okay and we do much more to celebrate the season, learn the story of Jesus and give back that I don't think the message will get lost. I just remember the joy I got from something so small, and I see Zoey's eyes light up too.

Zoey making ornaments for the tree.

Homemade ornaments: Our tree will never make the Martha Stewart magazine, it has no color decor and you will never find another tree just like it. It is one of a kind. All of the ornaments on our tree are handmade,  painted or given as a special gift or occasion. We had ornaments from every year Stephen and I have been together and every year as a family. I think we have at least three or four Zoey's first Christmas ones and several that she has made. I paint new ornaments each year to add to the collection. We don't even put the glass balls or store bought ornaments on the tree anymore. Zoey loves to help me do this now. She has her own painted ornaments to put on the tree this year.

We have other traditions too, like watching Rudolph the red nose Reindeer (Zoey's favorite), baking cookies, visiting our friends and of course seeing our family. Christmas and it's traditions will likely change as the years go on and as Zoey gets older, but I have a lot of fun this time of year no matter what. Somehow I feel so full of joy and thankfulness for every part of my life, especially my wonderful family. I hope Zoey grows up knowing the love of God and feeling excitement about sharing this time of year with others.

What are some of your traditions?

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