Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Favorite *CHRISTmas Tradition

The Birth of Jesus Foretold (from Luke 1)
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Now that you have read the foretelling of THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS of all time...I'd love to hear from you guys about what your favorite CHRISTmas tradition is with your own family.

Amidst the secular craziness of decorating tree's, buying the kids matching pajamas, taking that "perfect" Christmas photo for your card, there's gotta be something more. How do you bring out the FAITH aspect of Christmas in your home? How do you keep this potentially wonderful holiday focused on what it was intended for??

I was just telling my hubby the other day that I bet the average family spends at least three-five full days between Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating, shopping, stressing out, working on Christmas cards, hanging lights, etc. Think of what we could do with that time?! (Ooh, and should I dare say all that $$$!) And, all for a 4-5 week period in one little ol' month called December. Speaking of, did you know that Jesus was probably born in September? Seriously. Just a little sidenote. http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2005/1008/print/

Okay, so here are Two of our Family's Favorite CHRISTmas Traditions:

#1 As you receive all those beautiful Christmas Cards...collect them in a box, or on a tray. Then, after the first of the year, let one of your children pick out a card each night at dinner. Whoever says the dinner prayer (for us, usually Daddio) prays specifically over that family. This has been such an incredible tradition for us! And, with the number of cards we receive, it lasts for months! I absolutely love teaching my kids about praying for others...and it gives special meaning to each card. I can't imagine just throwing them out when Christmas was over! (This idea was shared with us by our very first Sunday School Teachers 12 years ago...thanks Randy & Chris Bunn!)

#2 Momma (that would be me) sits with candlelight in the front living room where our Christmas Tree resides. We then read the Story of Christmas out of the Bible together on the couch all snuggled up in our jammies. After reading, I turn out any lights and only keep one candle burning. Then, one by one, I take each of my children and look them right in the eye and tell them:
"You, _____ (Will, Abby, Ella, Owen), are the Light of the World"
and Greg and I walk them up to their bed, kiss them, and tuck them in for the night. I dare you to try this without getting chills up your spine. It is an AMAZING experience!
(This idea comes from one of the most faithful Mothers I have ever known... her name is Susan Ekhoff ~ she is the Mother of Seven!)

#3 I had to come back and add one more...God reminded me this morning of this oh so special tradition. Years ago, my good friend Amy Barnes did a wonderful presentation on how to have faith-filled traditions with your family during the Holidays. She brought up the idea of some type of manger in your front yard. It is kept empty until the morning of Christmas. At that time, a baby wrapped in white cloth (an old sheet cut up will do) is laid in the manger. As our children come downstairs, the first thing we do is check to see if Baby Jesus is in the Manger. It is SO precious!! Even Will gets excited to see Him! Then, one of my girls ends up cuddling on Baby Jesus all day long! (*Special note of thanks to my dear friends Russ & Debbie Knight...Russ handbuilt our family's wooden manger. It is a priceless gift that we have cherished for years.)

Okay, now it's YOUR turn! Please take the time to post a comment so we can make our Holidays even more meaningful this year...and bring CHRIST back to Christmas. +*+*+

(P.S. - just saw Rick Warren (author of Purpose Driven Life) on the Today Show...he has a new book out. Looks like a Must Have! http://www.saddlebackresources.com/en-US/PurposeDrivenLife/ThePurposeofChristmas/ThePurposeofChristmas.htm)


ashleigh said...

I love your Christmas card tradition and have told others over the years about it. I never throw away the cards we receive either!
One little tradition in our home involves Santa. Every year he only delivers 3 presents to each of the kids. They know he does this because of the 3 Kings who took Baby Jesus their 3 gifts. It always leads to discussions about the true story of Christmas all year long!

kim said...

those are all really great ideas! We have been using the card tradition for a few years now since you shared it with us. Ella gets so excited to see who we GET to pray for each night! I keep checking back to see what people are going to add...so come on people...share your traditions!!!

Baloney said...

I have a children's book that tells the Christmas story. It's big (so easy to share with both of my boys at once) and has good pictures (not too busy and distracting but enough to keep it interesting). We read 2-4 pages from it each night leading up to Christmas and talk about each segment. I love it because it feels like we are preparing for His birth in a process and stretches out the events a little better. Jacob is really enjoying it this year!

Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing your traditions with us. I love the Baby Jesus in the manager idea. We also always save our Christmas Cards, but I had not ever thought to get them back out a pray for each family. I think we are going to have to try that. Love it!
Also, such a cute Christmas Card.

Chere' said...

I am a lover of books..specifically children's books, but any book will do. Over the years I have collected picture books about Christmas. They only come out during the month of December and are kept in a basket next to the fireplace and tree. We enjoy reading one or more each night during the month of December. Now that my girls are older it's harder to do, but the books are still there and now maybe I'll be more motivated to get going with the reading of them! Thanks.

Annie said...

Dear Katie,
I have tried harder to put CHRIST back in Christmas this year, thanks to you. It is always something that is on my mind, but I haven't been that purposeful about it.

So, we have been praying for our Christmas card families this year (Ellie coincidentally picked your family as the first one to pray for), and I absolutely LOVE the manger idea. We do that with our nativity scene, but the outdoor manger makes it even more special. I love Ashleigh's idea too. I'll share a couple of our ideas later on.