December 10, 2012

Joyful Mom Monday - Christmas Traditions!

Counting God's Little Blessings

Christmas is one of my very favorite times of the year!  I LOVE all the happiness, the music, the shopping, the giving, even the busyness and craziness that comes with it.  As my children have grown older, I've realized how important the traditions of family are...and how little time I have to make an impact on my children.  So, as my children grow older, I find myself trying to make each Christmas a little more special and a little more memorable.  We have also begun many new traditions over the last two years because we no longer have any grandparents close by for Christmas, and so I feel an even bigger need to make our Christmases more special and memorable because we don't have others to help us do that. 

Of course, one of the most popular traditions is the Christmas tree.  We have our big family tree (which we buy from the K-Mart parking lot each year!) in the living room that is decorated in blue and silver - all fancy with ribbon and clear lights.  I am very particular about the family tree, and the kids pretty much do not approve of the way I wish it to be decorated, but as the Mr. gently reminds them each year, "We call this the family tree, but it's really Momma's tree!" :)  So, to try to appease everyone, the kids take turns each year having an artificial tree in their room.  This year it is in the girls' room!  Each year, they get to pick out a new decoration/ornament to add to their tree, and they get to decorate it any way they like with no help from me unless they ask for it!   

This will be our 3rd year that we have celebrated the 25 days of Christmas!  We do this by planning something fun for each day.  Some days it is very simple such as popcorn and a movie.  We also include things such as making treats for our "neighbors" and caroling to them, making treats for our Sunday School teachers, a game night, and this year a new one...a sleepover under the Christmas tree! ('s a secret, and we haven't done it yet!)  There are some days that tend to get busy, and we may not end up doing something each day, but we try, and we have made many memories by making the effort to celebrate in special ways. 

We also have a magnetic advent calendar with the nativity scene.  I must have bought this just before advent calendars became popular again because I got it for $15, but the one I have now is sold for almost $50!  We love this calendar, and every morning the kids look forward to taking their turn in adding a star, sheep, angel, etc to the nativity scene.  I also began putting a Scripture reference on a piece of paper inside each box  so that we can read a Scripture about Jesus' birth each morning.  This year, we are reading Scripture references that tell us about the names of Jesus.  The kids are enjoying learning about all that Jesus is to much more than just a baby.

Our newest tradition, which we are all enjoying, is opening a book each night and reading it together. For the last three months, I have been shopping consignment and thrift stores and have bought 25 books and wrapped them in Christmas paper.  I have them numbered 25 through Christmas Day, and each night before bed, the kids take turns opening a book.  Some of them are Christmas books, but some aren't.  This has been a fun and affordable way for us to increase our own library and to encourage my kids to love reading!  I also just read of someone who bought 25 Christmas books and re-wraps the same 25 books each year.  Either way is fun!

Every Christmas Eve, we go to our church's Candlelight service.  When we first began this, I was afraid it would take away from family time, but I now think it is one of the special traditions we have, and except for reading the Christmas story with my family on Christmas morning, it is my favorite Christmas tradition.  After we finish the Candlelight service, we always come home and fry homemade doughnuts and watch a Christmas movie.  

These are a few of our Christmas traditions.  They are not always perfect.  They do not always go the way I planned for them to, but in the attempt, we have made many special memories that have helped form a stronger family bond.  If we are to remain joyful in these special times, though, we must remember that we cannot take on everything, and we need to know our limits.  There are many things that we are just beginning because our kids are older, and we can enjoy them.  Also because we do not have family close by, we do not find our time as divided as others may be (although we greatly miss celebrating special days with other family!).  I have found that every year is different.  Last year, we did not do nearly as much because the newbie was less than a month old.  This year, we're going all out!  Enjoy the place you are in this year, and make the most of the opportunities you have, but don't try to be somebody else's family!  

I'd love to hear some of your family Christmas traditions!  Link up with us here today...or some time this week!  Next week's Joyful Mom Monday topic will be Your Favorite Devotional/Bible Study that has helped you become a more Joyful Mom!  Have a great week celebrating the blessings of Christmas and family!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

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