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Christmas is that time of year when life just seems to slow down and speed up all at once. It slows down because you’re taking in all the sights and sounds and smells, all the while speeding up because it seems to go from Thanksgiving to Christmas in like three days.
My parents always made Christmas special for us…not because they spent a lot of money on us, but because they spent a lot of time on us, making memories, and starting traditions that I have passed down to my own family. Here are the 7 things I look forward to most about the Christmas season with my family.
1. Christmas Light Nights
A simple internet search will likely yield a nice list of the best Christmas light displays in your area. We have 4 or 5 specific places we go every year, and it’s just fun to see how people go all out for the season. There is one home near us that has over 100,000 lights, and another home that boasts life sized gingerbread houses and a “real” Santa who gives out a little toy to each child that visits. We don’t usually tell our kids the evenings we’re going…I make a simple dinner to enjoy in the car and off we go once my husband gets home from work! The kids get excited to guess when and where we will be going.
2. Packing Operation Christmas Child Boxes
Tater (7) especially loves finding little treasures for other children as we pack our Operation Christmas Child boxes. We always choose the “Track Your Box” option so we can see where our box goes, and pray for the child that received it. Tater knows that Christmas is about giving, and packing the shoeboxes is a tangible reminder of that.
(See my post on shopping for an Operation Christmas Child Box on a Budget)
3. Decorating Our Tree
Every year, I buy one ornament for each of our children that has a meaning for the previous year. Sometimes it’s an ornament of a child’s favorite character, a new milestone, a new sport, or a token from a family vacation. Every year that we decorate the tree, we look back on each ornament as a special and treasured memory.
4. Decorating Sugar Cookies
This is probably the most anticipated of all our family traditions. We have a set of trusty Christmas Cookie Cutters that we have used for the last 10 years (they’re older than our kids), and buy every color sprinkle imaginable, along with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and shredded coconut. We cut out the dough, decorate the cookies, then bake them. We don’t use frosting, but if we did, we would bake the plain shaped cookies first, then decorate them. Lots and lots of laughter on Sugar Cookie Decorating night.
5. Christmas Movie Nights
We always have to watch Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and after the kids go to bed, A Christmas Story. We whip up some popcorn, maybe grab some leftover sugar cookies and hot cocoa, then sit in front of the warm fire and enjoy the show together.
6. One Christmas Eve Gift
This tradition goes back several generations in my family. After church on Christmas Eve, we come home and the kids open one gift. It’s always a pair of Christmas pajamas to wear that night (I prewash before I wrap them), and a new book about the birth of Jesus. We read our books after the kids are snuggled into their new jammies, then it’s lights out!
7. Christmas Communion
This is a special tradition from my husband’s family that my he carried on after we got married. On Christmas morning, after a breakfast of cinnamon rolls and tangerines from our tree, but before we open stockings and gifts, my husband leads us in Communion with some bread and grape juice to help us focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and to thank the Lord for our blessings. The best of which cannot be found under a tree.
This Christmas is going to be a little different because of family health issues, but it’s still such a wonderful time of year that I cherish. My husband gets some time off work so we can spend a lot of family time together, and we make wonderful memories each and every year. I love that our kids want our time more than anything, and these traditions help us make the most of that time.
What are your favorite family Christmas Traditions?