This is part of the Sharing Christmas link-up. If you are new to my blog, welcome. I hope you will stick around. If you are one of my 7 regular readers, I love each and every one of you.
Ever since Ben and I got married in 2008, I’ve been dying to create some family Christmas traditions. I’m pretty sure I remember hounding Ben during our first Christmas together (a month after our wedding) about what traditions we could create: “Think! What do you want to do year after year with our kids? Choose a meaningful tradition NOW!”
But the funny thing about traditions is that you can’t force them. For the most part, traditions are something that you do one year; it goes well (and a majority of your family enjoys it); so you do it again next year and the year after that…until it’s a tradition.
So, I’ve been patiently (ok, ok, not patiently) waiting to have a chance to develop some Morse Family Christmas Traditions. This year is our year! Joanna is old enough to understand some of the concepts of Christmas, and Claire is old enough to participate without meltdowns (most of the time).
It’s been awesome! I’ve been careful to try to keep our December simple and to hold my plans loosely (which, if you know me and my love of plans, is easier said than done). But since I’m so excited and since it’s been going pretty well, I’d love to share some of what we’ve been doing.
Prepare Him Room…
To me, I’d like the preparation for Jesus’ arrival to be the biggest part of our Advent traditions. I want to talk about Jesus all month long (really, all year long), not just a Christmas morning shout-out. So, this is how we’ve approached that this year…
Our Family’s Advent Plan (in Theory): Using the Jesus Storybook Bible, we’ve been reading one story a night (there are conveniently 24 stories from Creation to Jesus’ birth). Since “every story whispers His name”, it’s a perfect way to work towards Jesus’ birth. We also have brown paper bags that the girls open each night. The bag contains an item that relates to the story in some way. For example, during the story of Creation, the girls colored a picture of the world. Simple stuff.
Our Family’s Advent Plan (for real): We have opened a bag and read from the Jesus Storybook Bible every night. The girls love the bags (it’s an awesome real-life way to teach sharing and patience…ie there’s a lot of crying). There was one perfect night–tree lit, “fire” crackling, living room clean, girls sitting quietly and still as Ben read. Most nights, there’s a lot of squirming and crying and fussing. It’s really ironic because the girls will sit through 27 consecutive readings of Curious George and the Police Station, but they can’t seem to handle 10 minutes of a Bible story. Grrr…
My Advent Plan (in Theory): I planned to participate in She Reads Truth Advent series. It also walks you through the Old Testament, so it actually matches up with our family’s plan.
My Advent Plan (for real): I’m still participating, but I didn’t start until December 9th. So I’m really really far behind. It’s still been good, and I’m still preparing my heart for Jesus’ arrival. So that’s a win.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…
December can be OVERwhelming as far as activities and expectations and stress goes. I wanted to be very intentional about what we did this month. I want to enjoy the season, but not get lost in all the activity. You know?
This is really a balance. And I think it varies for each person. We’ve got to stop comparing our Decembers. For real.
Our Family’s Festive Plan (in Theory): At the beginning of the month, we picked four Christmas-y activities that we were going to deliberately do this month–the Christmas Light Parade, cookie decorating with friends, a PJ Christmas Light Drive, and the Christmas Eve service at church.
Our Family’s Festive Plan (for real): For real, this has been even better than I expected! We’ve added in other activities as they came up, but because there was no pressure to do it all, the extra stuff is just fun and stress-free. [I might note that it’s been so helpful to be facebook-free this month. It’s a lot harder to compare my December to yours when I have no idea what you’ve been doing.]
So, what’s my point in all of this? Well, it’s fun to share what we’ve been up to. And I suspect this post will be helpful next year when I can’t quite remember what we did. But mostly, I want to encourage you to choose to do the things that will be enjoyable and beneficial for your family…and then let the rest go. Yes. Let it go. Let it go.