Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tradition, TRADITION!

This year my oldest daughter is three.  Old enough to begin to understand and appreciate Christmas.  And this year, for the first time I feel like I have the time to focus on Christmas.  It suddenly occurred to me that it is my turn now, to begin establishing traditions, to find creative ways to make Christmas meaningful and memorable, to create a calm and joyful atmosphere for my family.   So I have been putting some thought into it, collecting some ideas, and beginning what will hopefully be the first of many years of Christmas traditions in our home.

Yesterday we made this advent calendar.  I found the idea from Maya Made, (Do you read this blog?  LOVE IT) but I didn't have toilet paper rolls so I made my own little envelopes out of brown packing paper.  I was somewhat satisfied with how they turned out, but have some ideas for next year and was thinking how fun it would be to collect poems, quotes, thoughts, and scripture, and put together my own Advent devotions for each day, then give them as gifts.  Maybe next year I'll plan ahead!

Personally, I am really enjoying this online advent calendar from Christianity Today.

For this year, I am planning to write simple devotions that a three year old can understand, and I'll also include some "prizes," such as a special time with Mom or Dad, or an occasional family movie, late-night walk, etc., in the form of tickets, as suggested by Maya. 

I had hoped to do a Jesse Tree this year, and ordered a kit that never arrived, so maybe next year.  

Some other simple suggestions for family traditions that I am planning to begin this year are:
- when setting out the nativity, keep Baby Jesus and wrap him in a small box, to be opened by one child on Christmas Eve.  We'll read the Christmas story, and then place baby Jesus in the manger.
-On Christmas Eve, turn out the lights and let each person light a candle.  Talk about the past year, share blessings and stories, gives thanks as a family.
-I am going to begin a Christmas journal, that I will keep packed away with the Christmas decorations during the year.  In it I'll record the traditions we started, any special recipes that I want to remember, and write about special guests, events, or things that happened that Christmas.  Each year we can remember Christmases past, and it will help me to not forget the traditions we started!

And of course, there's cookie baking, decorating, a little shopping, and gift wrapping.  

I hope to instill in my children the value of handmade gifts.  Looking around my home, I think that this should come naturally.  Our house is filled with furniture and toys made by my grandfather (who lost one arm, by the way!), and clothes and quilts sewn by my grandmother.  I think we need to keep these old-fashioned handicrafts alive, and I really want to pass the satisfaction of creativity on to my children.  I am planning to come up with small gifts for them to make and give.  This year, so far I have only found one gift appropriate for a three year old to make:  bookmarks.  Does anyone have any other ideas?  We also did some potato-print wrapping paper, which I could also do for sets of notecards.

I am planning to make Sami this and Anna this.  (I'm not much of a sewer, but these I think I can handle).

Small Notebook has some good suggestions for creating holiday traditions.  I like her approach:
I just want to make sure our family’s traditions are truly ours, and not what’s recommended by a magazine’s “must-have” list. I’m trying to let the joy of Christmas sink in, not put on an exhausting one-woman show.      
I am sure that the most important role for Mom is creating a home that is pleasant, not perfect, at Christmas or anytime.  

(I love that "creating" word.  Being a stay-at-home-Mom is challenging, often mundane, days are long, sometimes lonely.  But it's the most creative thing I've ever done).


Betty said...

That's awesome Jess. I try to do things that are just ours too but you inspire me with the spirit and heart you have behind it. And I agree that being a stay at home mom requires creativity!

Becoming Me said...

I love it! Excellent idea

Heather of the EO said...

I'm SO excited about this post because I've been trying to come up with traditions too. And of course I love yours! Thank you. You're such a great mom.

charrette said...

These are all wonderful ideas. Reminds me of my last post!