So as our sidebar says, grab a cup and stay a while. We're so glad you've come by to visit!
Family Pictures: While this is one is near the top of my favorites list, my husband would have it at the bottom of his :) Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom's family has always taken family pictures when we gather for Christmas. It's so much fun to look back over the years at each year's pictures. This is one from a few years back of most of the grandchildren and their significant others.
For us, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Christmas Story...both the reading and actual event. I love that we pause (at nearly every gathering) to read that wonderful account of Jesus coming to live among us and are able to celebrate the blessings He's given us.
So, I guess you could say that my all-time favorite Christmas tradition is just that...LOVE. From the little baby born so long ago, to the love of family and friends, it's what makes Christmas, well, Christmas for me.
I'll never forget sitting in a peaceful, candlelit church when the clock struck midnight. Driving past homes adorned with soft, twinkling lights afterwards. The inevitable lone indoor light on, probably with parents trying to give Santa a hand in putting together a bicycle or train table. The exciting thoughts of getting up so early you were never quite sure you actually ever went to bed.
Sweet traditions. The things we just can't forget. The things that tie us to our pasts and make us feel, as Sarai said, like home.
Beginning traditions. Since our girls are so young, there are some tradition we are starting and hope last for years to come. One of those is an advent calendar. I'm in the process of creating that now, so be sure to check back soon. Twenty-four days of having fun and, more importantly, giving to others... maybe squeezing in a visit to someone quite jolly along the way. Another one is a good, old fashioned Christmas carol through our neighborhood. I can't wait!
A specially chosen Christmas book. I had to go and get these out of the attic for you! Though I've been doing this for a while, I still never tire of titles like "The Crippled Lamb" or "Christmas Tapestry." I'm so excited to find and add this year's title to the collection. I hope our children will love pulling out these stories as much as I do.
Significant ornaments. Back when my husband and I started dating we chose an ornament for each other. Once we got married we started choosing one ornament together to represent something significant from that year of our lives. I try to write on a little tag that goes with the ornament so that each year as we unwrap a story is told. I also have a box or ornaments for the girls that I plan to give them when they turn eighteen. As I looked at my eldest's box I had to smile because her last year's ornament was of the nativity, which marked the year she learned of Baby "Jeshush."
An empty manger becomes full. We leave the manger of one nativity empty until Christmas morning. We reread Luke's account once more on Christmas Eve just before unwrapping that one special gift (Christmas jammies!) Then in the morning when we wake to cinnamon rolls, stockings, and surprises we get the best present of all... the baby is born!
But again, as Sarai said, the best tradition of all is love. That's what I hope these gestures speak to our hearts and to the hearts of our children!
As Katrina shared, my family also keeps the manger empty until Christmas morning. It was also such an honor to be chosen to place the greatest gift of all in the scene. Althought I do remember one year, when my little brother took it to the extreme. Realizing that Jesus was one important baby, he thought that it would be necessary to guard the manger scene with his Matchbox police cars and troops and troops of army soldiers. He loved telling people about how Jesus would be safe, I think he might even still get a kick out of telling that story even now.
Each Christmas morning, the house would be filled with the aroma of fresh baked cinnamon rolls. Christmas morning breakfast is a long standing tradition in our family. Even though the menu might look simple to some, the company is sweet and helps us to really start the day off by spending time with one another. Over the last few years, we have been traveling during the holiday season, and we take this tradition with us. Can't wait for those country ham biscuits and cinnamon rolls!
Reading Christmas favorites is a special tradition with my family as well. We always take time out to reflect and share the Christmas story from the Bible. My mom has been givine me a special Christmas book each year. Katrina definetly mentioned some of my favorites, but my all time new favorite is Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo. Maybe you and your family might like to check it out.
One of my three trees has become my butterfly tree. This is a very special tree to me as it symbolizes to me the new life that we are offered in Christ. Even though the tree is small, each ornament is a simple reminder that each day God is transforming us into new creations. Such a promise!