being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Why I Heart Christmas: New Traditions Edition
This is No. 4 in the four-part series “Why I heart Christmas”.
Sorry this post is a little late, folks. We had some last minute house guests, which led to impromptu grocery shopping and house cleaning. And also, I was having a hard time loading pictures and videos. I’d better get the hang of this if I’m going to ever become a serious blogger, huh?
I think this post is my favorite to write of the bunch. I think because it’s so open with possibility. The girls are young and each Christmas brings a new age with new awareness and understanding of this special holiday.
First and foremost, this will probably cause a little controversy, but Hubs and I have chosen to NOT do the Santa thing in our household. The bottom line is because we don’t want to lie to our children, no matter how innocent or fun the lie is. (I need to insert here that in between starting this post and writing this sentence, we went to Chic-fil-A for Kids’ Night. Guess who was making an appearance? Santa. The kids giggled and were giddy. Firstborn Diva Child said, “I knew you weren’t telling the truth! Santa’s real! He’s here!” And Drama Queen Middle Child said, “Don’t you know he’s real mom?” Here’s a little picture from the encounter).
We do several fun things throughout the season to prepare for Christmas.
Like most families, we decorate the Christmas tree. I think my firstborn Diva child is going to enjoy it as much as I do. She loves ornaments. Our favorite is the Peanuts ornament. It’s shows Linus on the stage. We went to great lengths to get this ornament for her after seeing it some friends’ house a few years ago. Long story short, we tried to get it at several stores where we lived and we tried to get it online. They were sold out. I asked my mom to ask around. She called all the Hallmark stores in her city and found one that had the store model left. She drove to the other side of town to pick it up. She mailed us the box. When I received the package, it was empty. I called my mom who called the store who found it stashed somewhere in the back room. Then the battery was dead. So, all in all, when you consider the time spent hunting and procuring it, the gas used going to the store twice, postage, and the replacement battery, not to mention the cost of the ornament itself, we probably spent somewhere in the ball park of $60 to $70 on this ornament. I don’t think about that. I think about how much my girls love it. And how each time they push the button, they hear the Christmas story. Here’s what it looks like and does, in case you were wondering what ornament is worth that much money (FYI, this is a video I took of our ornament).
This year, one of my favorite bloggers, Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience wrote and gave a free Jesse Tree Devotional, complete with pictures to make ornaments. If you don’t know what a Jesse Tree is, it’s a daily devotional starting at the beginning of Advent. It goes through the history of Jesus’ lineage up to his birth. It helps those of us who are believers see our own lineage of grace. This is the first year I’ve done a purposeful daily advent devotional with the girls. Sometimes I don’t think they’re listening, but they remember which stories go with the ornaments hanging on the pine branches we cut from our huge backyard tree. Here’s a picture of our Jesse Tree, in progress.
I just have to interject here that if you haven’t discovered Ann Voskamp and A Holy Experience, take a few minutes today to peruse her blog. Everything she has ever posted that I have read has left me hopeful and encouraged. Her’s is a quiet voice in the noisiness of the internet. A quiet respite, a salve to the wearied soul. I have read her blog for years and as long as she continues to write, I will read.
In the past I have made these pancakes.
I may try my hand at Rudolph or Santa-shaped pancakes (see we still talk about and do Santa, we just don’t teach that he’s real). We actually have a family tradition that goes along with pancakes. It’s another from my mother-in-law. She reads “Little Black Sambo” (which is about a little boy in India whose mother makes him pancakes out of tiger ghee – you have to read it to understand it). She would read it on Christmas Eve and then fix pancakes for Breakfast on Christmas morning. Then we use Alton Brown’s recipe for Instant Pancake Mix. So good. Yes, pancakes are in order soon.
When I became a mother, one of the gifts my mother gave me for Christmas was “The ADVENTure of Christmas” by Lisa Whelchel. It’s only until recently that I felt that I could use some of the ideas in this book with the kids. There are all sorts of recipes (we’re SO trying Wassail this year), crafts (we might make some “Reindeer Evangelists” – candy canes made up as reindeer), and historical facts and stories about the traditions of Christmas. The artwork is fun and captivating. Most importantly, it takes some of the well-known holiday traditions and points them toward why our family celebrates the season, Jesus. I’m so excited to get to use it this year (here it is on her website, here it is on amazon.com).
Here are some websites I’ve found with some great ideas for this season:
Check out my friend Sarah’s blog, Mashed Bananas. While she is an incredible writer, she’s even a more incredible mom. Here are a few things she did one year with her kids. Really. She’s uber-mom. Uber-fun-mom. Indoor “paper snow ball” fight? Fun. Homemade snowflakes and hot chocolate? Yum. Then there’s the Santa pancakes I’m totally stealing. Here’s what she did the year before that, a homemade advent calendar made out of match boxes. I’m not nearly that ambitious, but if you are, it’s a super cute idea.
I love what this homeschooling mom (Our Homeschool Fun) has done with her kids. Check out the Christmas Trees made of wooden craft sticks. Love it!
Family Fun Magazine always has creative homemade gift ideas that the kids can do. I actually purchased the supplies to make these fun felt pens last year, but didn’t get to it (we had a lot going on). I think the girls would love to do it this year and give them to the relatives. I also saw these little bowling boys that I thought would be fun to make for my nephews.
And finally, there’s World Vision. We support a little boy named Jose in El Salvador. Because we do, we receive mail from World Vision throughout the year. We’ve been leafing through their Christmas 2010 Gift Catalog trying to figure out what the perfect gift to purchase might be. Do we buy a chicken or a goat or clean drinking water or a Ger for a family in Mongolia? The girls want to buy baby chickens. I’m thinking about a goat. It’s a great way to give to those in need out of the great abundance God has given our family.
While I have always loved Christmas, I think I love it more now. Being a mother and watching my children experience it is far better than experiencing it myself. It is my earnest hope and sincerest prayer that they learn the reason why this holiday is so special. It’s about an all-powerful, infinitely loving, exceedingly just, all gracious God humbling himself into the form of a helpless infant to save the fallen world he so lovingly created. I pray that as our family grows and matures that our faith will as well.