I suppose this post is really for my children. Long after I’m gone, I want them to know how much they’re loved, how much their lives were celebrated and how important God was in our home. Perhaps it was the events in Connecticut that reminded us all that life really is precious. You won’t find me blogging about that horrific event. I can’t. It’s too personal. But what you will find me blogging about is my life, its beautiful chaos and how we’re trying to be better parents every day.
Some days we do it well. Some days we need a truckload of help.
For over a decade, Scott and I have been mentoring engaged couples through a program at our church called Sponsor Couple. We consider that time with them an honor and inevitably we end up sharing our experiences when it comes to family traditions. If you haven’t already figured it out in your own marriage, family of origin issues creep into every aspect of your marriage. The good and the bad.
It’s an honor to share with you today our family traditions during the Advent and Christmas seasons. May your season be just as blessed, just as full and just as wonderful as God intends. It really, truly is, the most wonderful time of the year. May the birth of a savior remind us of the gift of life. It is precious, isn’t it?
1. The Christmas Tree. The day after Thanksgiving, we load up the family and head to a real live Christmas Tree Farm. For five years running, we ventured to Salado. Sadly – oh so very sadly – that tree farm closed this year. My kids cried big, fat, ugly tears. It was horrible. We went to a place in Elgin instead and while it was good, “It’s just not Salado,” my oldest said. There was no hay ride, no swing, no hot chocolate, no sweet owners to make small talk while they tied the tree to your car. We looked like poor little lost puppies, this family of seven. But, we did find a fabulous tree and we enjoyed the heck out of decorating it. For us, it’s the experience that’s always counted.
2. Christmas cards. I’m fairly certain you know how much I love these. If not, you can give my card post a quick read.
3. Advent Wreath. We have a fancy one, but we usually default to using the one my children make in kindergarten. The flames are tissue paper and that just seems WAY safer than real fire in our house.
4. Nativity/Tree Blessing. Sometime between the first and second week of Advent, we gather the family ’round and bless our Nativity and Christmas tree. It’s a short blessing, just a few minutes. However, that didn’t negate the two timeouts that occurred during this year’s blessing. Sibling love, it was just all around. Not.
5. Feast of St. Nicholas. On the eve of his Feast Day, December 6, the kids leave their shoes out. The next morning St. Nick delivers a candy cane and new Christmas pajamas. The joy is real and so is St. Nicholas. The original Santa Claus.
6. Nutcracker with Nana. The girls really got into the ballet this year and I’m happy to report it was a rousing success. The girls have already asked my mom if she’s bought tickets for 2013. Get on that, Nana.
7. Christmas lights. Sometime during the holidays we always load up the car and go look at lights. I will say it’s been more frustrating than fun the past couple of years. The kids usually end up fighting and getting on everyone’s nerves. That’s when Scott and I look at each other and say, “Tell me again why we’re doing this?” But, we go back for punishment every year. This Christmas we decided to head downtown Austin for the annual “Trail of Lights.” Yes, the traffic was ridonkulous (two hours just to get there!), the lights made it worth it, particularly Zilker Tree. You’re supposed to stand beneath it and spin. Hi, dizzy. But, oh-so-fun. Quite honestly, I’d go back just for that tree! The photo of the kids with Scott below should win the “can everyone do something weird with their eyes” award. Oh well, we tried.
8. Family Movie Night. No season is complete without watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It just isn’t. Best movie. Ever.
9. Christmas Trees. I gave you the full rundown last weekend, but trees are my soft spot during the Christmas season. Our children each have one in their room, decorated with all the things they love.
10. Gift giving. We do it purposefully and with great love. No maxing out the credit cards here.
Bonus: Yesterday, I shared a few of our Christmas Eve traditions on Bonnie Engstrom’s blog, a Knotted Life. I daresay she might have one of the most powerful “God moment” stories I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. The video below was recorded by Bonnie to help further the cause for canonizing Bishop Fulton Sheen. While Bonnie and I are only virtual friends, I have high hopes that God will let us be real life friends very soon.
While I might pop in once to share some Christmas photo love, tomorrow will be my last post until January 6, 2013. I’m excited to spend the time with family and enjoy the school break with my children. I pray you have the opportunity to do the same.