Tuesday, December 27, 2011

tradition, Tradition!

With the holidays rolling around I have been thinking about traditions a lot lately and how to make things more meaningful for our family, especially around Christmastime. Traditions can be such a powerful method of building family unity and story, building anticipation together, creating expectation, entering into the gospel story together, and really learning to celebrate (which, for my melancholic personality, is sometimes forgotten!).

So, more than anything I wanted to send a shout-out and ask for ideas for traditions from your family. Maybe I can compile comments (and links--hopefully you will send some over!) and re-post the ideas people send in so that we can help each other.

Here are some things that we have loved and are growing to love more...just some ideas to get you thinking about how you celebrate:

1. Celebrating Advent. The past few years we have done a Jesse Tree as a vehicle to share the gospel story with our kids. Its really helped us all to see the big picture of why it was so important that Jesus came.

2. Celebrating Lent. I don't know what we'll do this year, but we definitely went through some devotions leading up to Easter last year. Does anyone have any great ideas for helping kids enter in?

3. Doing a Passover meal. Our first was a little boring, I think, for the kids, but hopefully in the years to come it will be a lot more meaningful. We'll see how this develops.

4. Having special breakfast on each of the kids' birthdays (and celebrating Jesus' birthday with a special breakfast and birthday cake, too!).

Also, I was reading a book today (Hopefully I'll write a little ditty soon on what really impacted me from the book, but just take it from me and buy it. Its $3.99 on kindle now!) that suggested taking a closer look at the church calendar as a way each year to live the gospel story together, starting with Advent, then moving to Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Paschal Vigil, Easter, Pentecost, and then taking the rest of the year to focus on the Gospels. Now, if you're like me, you don't know what these words all mean yet. Its ok...but what I am really asking its, "Do any of you do this?"

What other ideas do you have? Please send all the links you can muster! What did your parents do when you were younger that was really a treasured thing for you?


  1. hey steph, here are some of our family traditions during christmas and other times. we too are trying to make things more exciting as both of our families didn't have many traditions so we're trying to make our own.

    (so all of our activities we pull from advent pockets that we made with Clinton's mom last year. i have a picture on our blog. days 1-24)

    1 Dec 1 our kids get new Christmas pi's. I'm saving all of Cayden's and Josph;s and will make them each a blanket when they leave home. I came up with this idea when colton and chase were around 15 and 13. i was so sad when i thought of it...but making up for it now. ; )

    2. each boy gets a new Christmas book each year. there's lots of good ones out there

    3. watch the Nutcracker ballet....which Joseph looooves (the one with macaulay culkin)

    4 make a cake for Jesus

    5. give presents to the poor(if you give unto the least of these you've given to me)

    6. go look at Christmas lights...as they get them out for the king's birthday.

    7. make Christmas cookies(this has been a tradition for 15 years) colton and nitcha participated this year too. he said he wouldn't miss it. ; )

    these are a few ideas.

    some other ideas:
    for birthdays the person having the birthday gets to pick the cake they want.
    the night before mamma decorates the house (balloons, streamers) and everyone makes notes to leave on the table.
    that evening the birthday person gets to pick the meal

    i'd love to hear some of your ideas too. ; ))

  2. I love those ideas, amber! thanks for taking the time. Its good to know what you guys do. I like the note-writing thing for the birthday.

    Alina and I were talking yesterday about starting a tradition this coming year of making a christmas/advent ornament as part of our thanksgiving celebrations. I thought that was a great idea!

    The other day we counted Christmas trees on the way across town. It was really fun!

    I also heard something from a friend (rescuedremnant.blogspot.com) that they have their older kids research a worthy cause to give to during advent season and on christmas day they give a presentation. Sounded great.

    I'd love to hear alina pipe in on this. They do a good job with tradition.

  3. Tradition, tradition! I couldn't help singing that from Fiddler on the Roof. I am sure the reference wasn't purely accidental. ;)
    For us, we have done the Jesse Tree two years in a row and love how it leads up to the Big Day - rather than randomly reading out of the beginning of Luke on Christmas morning. It is a rich story that deserves much meditation...but you already know that.
    Also, Christmas movies are actually a big tradition for us. We have enjoyed watching The Nativity Story each year since it came out and will continue, I think. Also, there's The First Noel, The Star of Christmas, The Veggie Tales' take on Saint Nick (title help?). For Mom and Dad, we watch funny ones like Elf and Fred Claus and sobering ones like A Christmas Carol.
    Other traditions: eating candy canes, decorating sugar cookies, special food...for overseas people like us - it is incredibly nostalgic. But, I hear some people with their own Mexican food, takeout pizza, or breakfast-for-dinner traditions.
    But, as of recently, we've started traditions of giving to the poor, our neighbors, etc.
    One thing we ALWAYS, no matter the year, is start Christmas morning with worship. We have a time of worship with (sometimes) Christmas (God-honoring) carols...but mostly worship and praise songs. We celebrate and adore the King who's birthday we celebrate...before toys...before trips to visit others...before anything else. I like that tradition the best!

  4. grammar check: "One thing we always DO..."

  5. i love the ideas of nativity story and starting with worship. we're trying to make "giving something away" a bigger part of how we celebrate--least of these. Just trying to really focus our children on what it really means. thanks for the insight, ladies!