Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Gift of Christmas Traditions

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The Gift of Christmas Traditions on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Two years ago I wrote a guest post about creating Christmas traditions. The year before that my husband and I had come up with a plan that would hopefully be the beginning of a new holiday tradition for our family. It did continue through last year, and as we are now finalizing some of the plans for how we'll spend Christmas, I was reminded of our little tradition and that we'll need to see how we can incorporate it into our plans for the Christmas season of 2017. Here is that article written two years ago, with some new thoughts added.

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During December, my calendar tends to fill up quickly, and my pocketbook tends to empty more quickly. Our family is busy during the holiday season with all kinds of special activities and events, plus decorating and gift-giving, and often traveling. We enjoy all these things, of course, but in the busy-ness, we realized we were probably doing some of those things "just because" and not taking time to appreciate the meaning behind some of them. Leading up to December of 2014, my husband and I started really talking about family traditions that surrounded the holidays, and reflecting on those traditions that we had adopted from our own backgrounds. We decided that the childhood memories that were precious to us we wanted to pass on to our own children, but we hoped also to create something that was unique to our family. We wanted to give our children the gift of traditions.

We decided we wanted to create something that would become our own family tradition for the holidays. But where to start? Our guidelines were that whatever we came up with should be simple, promote togetherness, and make memories. 

Simple - Don't work too hard at layering things with meanings and symbolism. If it's elaborate or expensive, it may become burdensome to continue. There is joy in simple things, especially for children. When we asked our kids (well, teens at that time!) about some of the things they most wanted to do during the holidays, or the best memories they had of past holidays, we were surprised at the simplicity of the memories and desires that stood out to them. Doing puzzles or playing games together; baking favorite cookies; or playing in the snow.

The Gift of Christmas Traditions on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


The Gift of Christmas Traditions on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Togetherness - The whole idea is to bring the family together, so we looked for activities that we could all enjoy together. That doesn't mean that everything we do is everyone's favorite, but because it holds great meaning for at least one of us, the rest of us will take joy in being a part of it. I'm not very good at doing puzzles, and don't even like it much, but some of my family members love doing that, so I occasionally sit down at the table and do my best to find a home for at least a piece or two, simply because they want me to be there. Food is a great way to bring people together, so preparing special dishes or meals together and then gathering around the table to enjoy the food and the company is a centerpiece of many beloved traditions.

The Gift of Christmas Traditions on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Memories - The funny thing about memories is that you can't always plan them. Sometimes they just happen. But you can pass on your family's stories, and your childhood memories, and start asking kids about their favorite things that they remember from past holidays.

So, what tradition did we create for our family? We borrowed from the old custom of the Twelve Days of Christmas. With input from all the family members, we made a sort of "bucket list" of the things we wanted to enjoy together during the Christmas season. Some items on the list were favorites from years past and so already had some tradition attached to them; some were activities that were specific to that year (such as a party we were attending, or starting to shop for a new vehicle); and all were family-oriented, close to home, and relatively inexpensive. We had a very long list to choose from, and we didn't get to do everything on the list, but started something that tied our family heritage and childhood memories to the present and created memories too. We hoped our Days of Christmas List would become a tradition that future generations could enjoy too, even as they create their own memories.

The Gift of Christmas Traditions on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

In the Christmas seasons since then, we've made some sort of Christmas bucket list of things to do and tried to check things off the list. The list seems to get shorter, and the items that appear on it are mostly repeats. In other words, it's starting to become a list of the things that are traditional holiday activities for our family. Simple, but that's what we hoped for! We haven't made our Days of Christmas List for 2017 yet, but I expect that games and puzzles will be on the list. So will a lot of the foods that appeared on the first list in the picture above - Waffles and Awesome Sauce, cookies, cheesecake, and pot pie. And I already know that seeing Christmas light displays is on the list, because we now have a sweet little granddaughter who loves lights!

The Gift of Christmas Traditions on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Traditions are a gift. The gift of family identity and harmony. The gift of being connected to our heritage. The gift of continuing the best of that heritage. The gift of spiritual and family values. The gift of shared memories.
What are your family's holiday traditions? Leave a comment and let me know!

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This is an updated version of a guest post I wrote for Family, Faith, and Fridays in December 2015. You can find that original post here: The Gift of December - The Gift of Traditions







This post is part of a #breakthrulinkup  at Breakthrough Homeschooling - Join us! This post will also be linked at the Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop hosted by Apron Strings & Other Things; and at the Homeschool Linky Party on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.





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9 comments:

Cross Rhodes said...

Some of our family traditions are baking goodies to share with our neighbors, driving around looking at Christmas lights and decorations, and most of all spending time together reading scriptures to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday season. These are just a few of the many things we do. I really enjoyed learning about your family traditions :)

Homework and Horseplay said...

I wrap 24 books up, and the children take turns unwrapping one each night until Christmas. This is an extra special time for me since my children are getting older and we don't do bedtime stories very often any more.

Unknown said...

We have Christmas devotions that include singing Christmas carols, bake lots of cookies, wear Christmas T-shirts or sweatshirts on Christmas Eve, decorate the ENTIRE downstairs using lots of lights, lots of church fun too :)

Carol said...

I like that you made a big list the first year and the things you have all enjoyed have continued to the following years. Those are the best traditions - the ones the family enjoys!

At Home where life happens said...

Absolutely! This is wonderful and I truly appreciate this statement "Don't work too hard at layering things with meanings and symbolism. If it's elaborate or expensive, it may become burdensome to continue." Too often these days, we have swung so far opposite of the commercialism of Christmas that it is just as difficult to continue things because they have to be filled with the symbolism of Jesus' birth. That isn't bad but when it becomes hard, it gets lost.

We take our time putting up the tree and decorating the house, enjoying the pieces and talking about where they came from and who gave them to us. We bake together to give to others. We go caroling. We spend time with family. We enjoy the season.

sweetdomicile said...

"There is joy in simple things, especially for children" resonated with me. I think I'm guilty of making things overly complicated this year.

Rodna Allman said...

I just made a post kind of about traditions. Rather the fact that we didn't really have any! We will definitely need to work on that for next year!

Annette V said...

favourite cookie recipes, decorating the tree together, sharing time and space with each other...Church services. This is Christmas. :)

Blogger Loves The King said...

Love your post. We have a few traditions - stockings, and the adult kids come over and my hubby has new games each year (they love this), and this year the toddlers got involved. Our favorite tradition is our Christmas cards - to pray for each family as I address, and then we hang each one we receive on our mini-blinds and we start pulling them and praying for each family until about March. We select one each meal not knowing who we will be praying for.

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