Christmas Traditions

I *love* Christmas time! We take time away from our typical studies and we focus on why we celebrate this holiday.

For us, it is really not about the presents, to keep true to this, we limit the number of gifts the kids get to three, from us. We try to find something that they need (this year 2 boys may be getting new comforters), something they want (a toy of some sort: BB gun, Bow & Arrow, games, etc) and the last thing is kind of our choice (this year I think some books). One exception is on Christmas eve they get to open their PJ pants – so, I guess they get 4.

On Sunday after Thanksgiving, we start our Jesse Tree tradition. We have always done something Jesse tree/Advent related, but last year I used Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree Devotion, and trust me when I say it is THE BEST out there!! I have many Christmas tradition books, and nothing comes close in spiritual depth and truth!! In order for us to remember each night, because life around here can get crazy, we get a chocolate candy Advent calendar for each child. (Aldi usually sells these – cheap)

 

Advent Calendar - Nativity Scene (Special Chocolate Series)

The kids do not get their candy until we do our devotion – this is a great accountability system for us!!

This year, I made up an Advent list of all the things I wanted to do : crafts, movies, books, etc. The main reason I made the list was to offer another “advent” activity, the kids will open an envelope each morning to see what the plan for the day is. {Gets them excited too} Then I merged my list with our calendar – for example on Sundays we are just enjoying a favorite Christmas movie or a book. And since Ally is not with us on Fri – Sun, I tried to pick the fun, crafty activities for days she was here. For stuff on the weekend, I tried to make it so Ally could do it with her mom, if they wanted.

The past few years I have been building up a supply of “Godly” Christmas books, so that eventually we will have enough to read one each day of Advent. We are doing the same with Christmas movies. Since we do not watch very much TV anymore with the kids, this season is especially fun to get to watch some extra movies!

One of our favorite traditions is to shop the Gospel for Asia catalog for gifts to give away. Last year we coordinated with Robert’s brother’s family and instead of exchanging gifts with them, we now buy gifts through Gospel for Asia.

The kids do not notice one less gift, it takes one less family off the shopping/making list and it is so good for them to learn about giving away. This year in January we sat down and the kids picked what they wanted to buy this year (2011) and planned to save money all year. The Water Buffalo they picked is $460 and I think we are about ½ way there, so instead, we will pick something else and try again next year. But they were so good to put Birthday money in there, allowance, etc. I was proud of them.

We like to incorporate Handi-Crafts into our holidays as well.  Last year, the boys hand stitched ornaments, wove pot holders, and even made a few leather gifts. This year we will do more hand-made ornaments, and leather products as gifts. The kids love making stuff for family members instead of buying it & we love learning new trades and skills!

This year we are incorporating more RAK (Random Acts of Kindness), in fact put a few on our Advent activity list, but I may do a bit more as Christmas gets closer. I want the kids to understand that most people, even the ones right here, have much less than they realize and that to give away is much better than to receive.

I am not sure how much of this follows along with Charlotte Mason, but I think her gentle style of teaching lines up with our gentle celebration of the birth of our Savoir. We try to incorporate the reason for this celebration each day instead of only on Christmas. We try to take time to share Jesus with others, especially during this time as well.

So, these are the things we have done in the past and continue to do. We love this time of year, lots of handicrafts, lots of reading, great music listening to hymns and Christmas music, lots of tea and hot cocoa while mom reads too. It has taken years to incorporate many of these things. Many books to reference from, here are a few of our favorite Christmas Tradition Books :

ADVENTure of Christmas

The Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions

Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas

Celebrating A Christ-Centered Christmas: Ideas From A-Z   -     
        By: Sharon Jaynes

We love these two books, I usually flip through both of them in November to get my mind working – and start planning our December!

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4 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions

  1. “Would it not then be an excellent thing to assume, as a matter or course, that a certain proportion of each holiday should be set aside for the benefit of other people, in working for missions, for the poor, or for the children's hospitals; the object is not of much moment, provided the aim be a little self-denial for the sake of others.”

    I just picked up that quote from Blossom's post in the CM carnival (taken from the readings), and I think it's exactly what you're talking about!! 🙂

    we love Ann's devotional too. so much. we'll be using it again this year, I'm excited. 🙂

    thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I love Ann's Jesse Tree devotional, too. I need to find it for this year. We moved right at Christmas time last year and didn't get to do it, and now I'm not sure where it is. I have Lisa Whelchel's ADVENTure of Christmas, too. I was looking through it the other day. She has great ideas, too.

    I enjoyed reading about your traditions. I appreciate your heart in keeping it Christ-centered and focused on giving.

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