A Life Stirred

Sharing Christmas :: The Theory and The Real

on December 14, 2014

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.

Christmas Tradition Fail: Make a tree topper that reflects the past year.   We played a lot of games in 2010.  We did it for 4 years and then ran out of ideas.

Christmas Tradition Fail: Make a tree topper that reflects the past year. I guess we played a lot of games in 2010. We held on to that for 4 years and then ran out of ideas.

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 Advent bags

Our Advent bags.

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…

This was the picture perfect moment.  Generally, there's a lot more chaos during our Advent activity.

This was the picture-perfect moment. Generally, there’s a lot more chaos.

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.

Light Parade family selfie.

Light Parade family selfie.

Todders and sugar.  What could go wrong?

Todders and sugar. What could go wrong?

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.]

Our Christmas tree craft.  Pin worthy, right?

Our Christmas tree craft. Pin worthy, right?

Nativity scene playing....allll the time.

Nativity scene playing….allll the time.

We also spend a lot of time looking at (and touching) the tree.

We also spend a lot of time looking at (and touching) the tree.

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.

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5 responses to “Sharing Christmas :: The Theory and The Real

  1. I love the theory vs. reality comparison. I tend to have such high hopes for festive activities…so much pressure, and it keeps me from enjoying how it actually happens. Looks like you guys are having a lovely season though…even if it’s not all exactly as planned (but what is with toddlers?!)

    • Carley Morse says:

      It really has been an awesome month! But I attribute that to my more-relaxed attitude. Apparently, keeping my expectations low is key too. 🙂 Then I can just be pleasantly surprised when things are awesome. (And maybe I’ll frame that picture-perfect Advent moment.) Thanks for hosting this link-up…I’ve really enjoyed reading about others’ Christmases.

  2. anlundstrom says:

    We decided on 4 things too, and it has made all the difference, so things that didn’t make the list, like driving to see the light, may or may not happen, but it isn’t something I am going to stress over. And our advent readings often involve tears! Oh and that made me laugh about Curious George, because that is us and Olivia, but a bible story, forget it! I think it is that their are too many words on one page.. not enough page turning?!

    • Carley Morse says:

      It’s been so freeing to just choose a few things!

      I don’t get it though…because some of those Curious George books have a lot of words! But whatever. At least, we’re setting a precedent for Advent Bible reading.

  3. Mel says:

    When I was a kid the tradition was to open one present on Christmas eve. It was always pj’s so we could look cute for the pics on Christmas morning. The second tradition was we always got a new game for Christmas. We played many board games and still do.

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