Monday, December 18, 2006

December Days till Christmas

Since returning from our trip to SD for Thanksgiving, the days and weeks for us have been filled with what seems like countless events and activities related to the Christmas holiday. We have attended the symphony holiday concert, various Christmas parties, a library discussion on a favorite Christmas book, baked cookies with friends, shopped for gifts, donated gifts to Operation Christmas Child, decorated the house, learned Christmas songs on the piano, prepared for the Chrsitmas play, made homemade gifts, listened to Christmas music all day, wrapped presents, celebrated Advent for nightly worship, and for the first time in several years prepared Christmas letters for our entire recipient list (hitting mailboxes this week!). Whew!! No wonder I'm so tired!??

In reflecting on all of this we have had some discussion on our family Christmas traditions that have developed over the years that we delight in each season. It was enlightening to hear how much these things have impacted our children's memories and how much they have come to mean to them...

Celebrating Advent:

Each year we celebrate Advent in our home with traditional purple, pink and white candles, lighting the appropriate ones each evening while we read an excerpt from our special Advent book, followed by a segment from our Jesse Tree book and place the corresponding ornament on the Jesse Tree. Then we read a chapter from The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper (a book that Mike has read each night leading up to Christmas since he was a small boy). We end with prayer and the kids go to bed after moving their individual Advent calenders in their rooms.

Advent Books: 3 year Series by Arnold Ytreeide (Jotham's Journey, Batholomew's Passage & Tabitha's Travels)

The Advent Jesse Tree; Devotions for Children & Adults to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas by Dean Meador Lambert

Holiday Reading:

Each year we all dive into our favorite Christmas books together and independently. Some all-time favorites are:

The Christmas Story from the Bible
On Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Grandma Moses
A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg
The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper
Christmas Stories from the Little House books
The opening chapter of Little Women by Louise May Alcott
Christmas books by Jan Brett

Favorite Holiday Films:

It's A Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street
The Santa Clause
The Santa Clause 2
Home Alone
The Nutcracker Ballet
The Christmas Shoes
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Carol
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Frosty The Snowman
The Little Drummer Boy
A Charlie Brown Christmas (check out this NPR segment on this cartoon )

Other Traditions:

We listen to holiday Old Time Radio programs whenever we can squeeze one in. We continue to find new favorites yearly, but our long-time tradition has been to begin listening to The Cinnamon Bear segments beginning Thanksgiving night and it takes us up to Christmas eve. Each segmant is 15 minutes long and ends in an old fashioned cliff hanger leaving the kids eager to resume the story the following night. Visit for free downloads.

Honoring St. Nicholas Day Dec. 6th by remembering who he was and what he did and partaking in some special activities. (We do this instead of having Santa Claus as part of our Christmas traditions.)

Live Christmas Tree every year - this year we went to a tree farm and cut our own! No theme tree here. Our tree is covered with ornaments all of us have received as gifts each year or made, as well as those from Mom & Dad's childhoods, teens, and years up to present. It's more like a "memory tree" everytime we decorate it.

Kids shopping day - the kids get their Christmas list and specified $ amount and hit an area dollar store to shop, then come home to wrap. It's all very secretive, and trying to be clever so no one else sees your purchases is over half the fun.

Each year Mom gets a new Christmas CD as part of her Dec. 15th birthday present to add to her ever growing BIG collecion of holiday tunes. Her all-time favorite among all the choices she has? Jim Brickman's Christmas CD - it's also the one played each year when we open gifts Christmas morning.

The Nutcracker Tree(s). We have a collectionof nutcracker ornaments that have always decorated a small little table tree - this year it's spread over 3 small Alpines 2', 3', & 4' tall.

The Nativity set displayed on the piano. (Mom looked at it longingly for 5 years before finally purchasing it - good thing too, that was the last year it was made.)

Attending Christmas Eve or Christmas morning church service and singing carols.

Hang our stockings and have fun finding what's inside Christmas morning before taking turns opening gifts.

Hurrying to find the Christmas Pickle ornament hidden on the tree Christmas morning, with the winner receiving an extra gift.

Participating in a Christmas play - an absolute must!

Fabulous food on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day! Including Mom's special Christmas scones...yummy.

Company for a week with visitors tag-teaming in and out= up though New Years. Whew!

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