The holidays are an excellent time to revisit some of our favorite memories, and traditions are one way of doing so.
What are your Christmas traditions?
When I was a teenager, I acted in several of the Christmas plays at our church. One of my favorites was a story called "I Was A Teenaged Christmas Tree." It was about a group of teenagers who are snowed in at a bus station as they try to return home from a trip. In the spirit of the holidays, they dress up one of their friends as a Christmas tree. (Well, they didn't have one.) Finally they realize that Christmas is about more than decorations and getting gifts: it's about The Gift.
Another play that I remember told the story of the Dead Shepherds, a fictional musical band from the time when Christ was born. At first the band's songs were literally about "nothing." Then, they find the baby Jesus - after the angels tell them of his birth - and they really have something to sing about! Even now, my sister and I will often mention a song that we're hearing on the radio is about "nothing."
Ready for our close-ups: Several years ago, I bought a video camera that is basically for children; it was very inexpensive, it tapes in black and white, and it has to be hooked to a VCR to record. I bought it to practice for job interviews, but I have mainly used it to tape our family as we open our Christmas gifts on Christmas day.
Jesus' Birthday Cake: "Each Christmas Eve, my children and I make and bake a birthday cake for Baby Jesus. It isn't fancy, and we use a cake mix and frosting, but we always have one candle, and we write 'Happy Birthday Jesus' on it. We sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and the youngest member of the family gets to blow out the candle. It helps us remember why we celebrate Christmas."
A gift to Jesus: "Each Christmas Eve we sit down as a family and write out (younger children draw) what we will do as a gift for Jesus for the coming year. It could be "I will read my scriptures every day", or "I will try not to fight with my brothers." Each person writes down something they need to work to improve themselves, and thus, act better for Jesus. We put the papers with the goals in an envelope and place it under the Christmas Tree. That is the first 'present' we open on Christmas Morning."
Christmas Quilt: "Many years ago my aunt made us a Christmas quilt. Soon after Thanksgiving we get the quilt out and have a special family night. We read the story of Christ's birth from the book of Luke while sitting on the quilt and have some sort of treat. That night the quilt is placed on the bed of the youngest child for them to sleep with. Each night the quilt changes to the next person rotating through the family until Christmas Eve. Christmas morning we gather the kids in our room before we go to see what Santa brought us and we sit on the quilt and sing happy birthday to Jesus. We read the story of the Christmas orange and share a chocolate orange that available this time of year. We remember how blessed we are and why we celebrate this holiday." Thank you, Brian Baker, for sharing this tradition!
"We attend Midnight mass on Christmas eve, have a special breakfast on Christmas morning, and prolong the gift opening: every person takes a turn opening one gift at a time while everyone else watches - it is fun to see what everyone has gotten, emphasizes the importance of giving as well as receiving, and makes the fun last that much longer!" (Found here.)
Do you have a Christmas tradition that I can list here? Email it to me at the address on this page.
Christmas Tradition Ideas
Want to try something different in your holiday routine? Consider these suggestions for a new Christmas tradition.
- Cut clutter by rounding up unused gifts from previous years and giving them to a worthy cause.
- Attend Christmas programs at church.
- Watch Christmas shows or movies together with hot chocolate and popcorn.
- Make decorating the tree a family event. Serve hot chocolate and play Christmas music.
- Go caroling, in a neighborhood, at a nursing home, in an apartment complex, etc.
- Go for a drive and see who wins for the best lights in town. Make an award for the winner and present it to them.
- Have the kids write and act out a Christmas play.
- Borrow new Christmas videos and books from the library.
- Make up a Christmas scavenger hunt.
- Organize a special reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol, etc. at a local church/library/community center. Invite seniors/families. Maybe get a local store to donate some cookies or cocoa.
- Ask the local supermarket if your youth group or older kids can help carry groceries out for senior citizens. (Those turkeys are heavy!)
- Learn how different cultures celebrate Christmas, and about what people did years ago.
- Have a Christmas Past, Present and Future evening/afternoon. Get out your photo albums/scrapbooks and talk about Christmas Past, remembering those who are no longer here to share it with us; for Christmas Present, discuss what one thing makes Christmas special for each person; for Christmas Future, talk about your hopes and dreams for the coming years ahead.
- Replace the annual Christmas letter in your holiday cards with a brief letter of appreciation for the recipient.
- Create or purchase new ornaments each year for the tree. Create or shop for an ornament that reflects a defining event or sentiment for the year.
- Enjoy a Family Night with special holiday crafts or games.
- Start a Christmas-themed puzzle somewhere in your home. A puzzle table, placed in a quiet room is great for holiday visitors. Whenever your guests want to get away from the action, they can retreat to work on the puzzle. This can be a great stress reliever, and it's wonderful for those guests who always have to be busy doing something.
- Take a photo of your children standing in a particular spot each year -- in front of the tree, by the front door -- anyplace that will be consistent from year to year. Make a special holiday ornament or scrapbook album that depicts the growth and change of your family each year.
- Research the holiday traditions of your nationality. Adopt a few of these traditions into your annual celebration each year to celebrate your heritage.
- Adopt a special cause each year and spend some time as a family helping those in need, or raising or donating money for a charity of your choice.
- Sit with loved ones in a room lit only by tree lights and remember that your blessings outnumber the lights.
Numbers 3 through 13 were found here.
Numbers 14 through 20 were found here.
Number 21 is by Betsy Cañas Garmon and was found here.