When I hear the word “tradition”, I immediately hear my Dad singing the “Fiddler on the Roof” song. Just thinking about traditions brings a smile to my face. I value traditions. They create family memories and allow a level of excited anticipation, as we know the predictable fun that lies ahead. Christmas is ripe with tradition for me, so I thought I would share a few with you.
The Christmas traditions always commence the day after Thanksgiving at our home, with the decorating of the house and tree. We pull out the boxes of decorations with hearts full of expectation. Christmas music rings throughout the house, as my little elves decorate, munch on snacks, and sip on hot chocolate. We conclude the day with the house looking festive, sitting by the fire for the annual reading of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”.
Baking is another traditional experience in our family. Back when my husband, Craig, was in Seminary money was short. We had little money for gifts, but wanted to show our love to family. We bought inexpensive tins, then dipped pretzels in various types of chocolate to fill them. It has become a yearly tradition since. Although, in recent years the triplets have been more covered in chocolate than the pretzels. We also bake sugar cookies to leave for Santa and to nibble on throughout Christmas day. We enjoy an icing and sprinkle filled extravaganza, along with a whole lot of family fun.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been mesmerizing by Christmas lights. We would drive around my hometown of Dallas, in our Volkswagen Bug or Chevy Nova, gazing through the windows at the beautiful twinkling lights outlining houses. My children enjoy this too! On Christmas Eve you will find our family: listening to Christmas music, driving around town, looking at lights, grading the displays on a 1 to 5 star scale, and the parents praying the kids get sleepy and fall asleep in the car.
We have a special dinner on Christmas Eve. The meal is concluded with a birthday party for Jesus. We sing and eat birthday cake in celebration of His birth. Taking time to focus on the true gift of Christmas. We follow the meal with the Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church. This is one of the most special moments of our year. After greeting and a time of fellowship with friends at church, the before mentioned light tour begins.
Christmas Day begins with cinnamon rolls and sparkling apple juice. We read the letter Santa wrote to the kids that always reminds us to remember the true Gift of Christmas. We retell the Christmas story, as recorded by Luke. Then, we transition to gifts. Going in a circle from youngest to oldest we take turns opening gifts. We continue till all the gifts are opened, taking breaks to call relatives, and to nibble on the leftover ham and other treats.
We always bring the day to an end, sitting by the fire, reminiscing and commenting that this was the “best Christmas ever”. Though gifts are fun…and the love that comes with them overwhelming. The best part of Christmas is: realizing the love God had for each of us when He sent His only son to Earth, to be born, and to die in our place. The second best part is: the warm satisfied feeling one gets after a season full of making memories, family togetherness, and enjoying special times. A beautiful parenthesis in our busy world!