Monday, December 1, 2008

Intentional Christmas Traditions

We had Christmas traditions growing up. We always put the nativity set up first and put it away last. We always put the star or angel on the tree first and took it down last. My mom always made buckeyes (an entirely too delicious candy). We always had to search for the stockings because they were never put away where they were supposed to be. We always went to church on Christmas Eve. My mom always bought us an ornament or decoration--some of which adorn our tree today.

We have traditions in our family today, though we've just begun the process of creating them. We put our tree up Thanksgiving weekend. As we decorate the tree, we listen to Christmas music--our favorite is Bing Crosby. We don't celebrate Santa Claus (another post on that later). We always bake cookies together.

This year, wanting to be a little more intentional about our tradition-making, we borrowed some ideas from friends. My good friend Rachel and her husband shared with us how they made a list of people they wanted to pray for and chose a few names each night. I liked that idea and so this afternoon, Charlie and I asked Emma and Ruthie help us compile a list of names written on scraps of paper. After we finished, we placed the names in a box with a lid. Every night before we eat dinner, we will draw out a couple of slips and pray for those individuals or families. Also, we will spend some time talking about the things we appreciate about those people and ways that we are grateful they are in our lives. I love how enthusiastic our girls became for this project! Tonight, we prayed for my brother and my step-dad...two people I love very much and should pray for more often. It was good to spend time thinking about them as the evening wore on.

Another tradition we are creating this year is to attempt to eat as many dinners as possible by candlelight. We did this on Christmas Eve last year as we enjoyed our shepherd's stew and bread. I liked it so much that I wanted to do it more often this year. Tonight, we enjoyed our spaghetti and meatballs by the glow of candles. The magical part of the evening was that the girls didn't notice how many peas and carrots were on their plates, so they just kept eating them!!!

Lastly, a tradition we are beginning but will not complete until next year is our World Vision savings jar. World Vision is a Christian organization that uses resources to help impoverished families purchase animals and livestock to ease their suffering. The livestock are used to supplement the family budget, and often makes it possible for children to attend school instead of earning money. We started a jar for spare change and next Christmas we will use the money to purchase chickens or goats or a calf or whatever we can afford.

I'm sure that default traditions will Charlie spending at least an hour trying to get all the lights on the tree working. But it's these intentional Christmas traditions that give the Lord greater latitude to work His reasons for this season in us.

Thank You, Father, for Jesus. Amen.


jan said...

I like all your ideas Jen. Especially the World Vision jar and your prayer box. Sometimes I think it's too late to develop any traditions because we only have 1 1/2 kids left in the nest. (Our 16yr. old is a busy kid!)
However, the World Vision jar and prayer box are something even "empty nesters" could do.:-)
Have a great week!

Kristen McG said...

I love the prayer box idea... I'm going to have to mention that to Jordan! And I love that you're taking the time to be intentional about the traditions practiced- especially while your kiddos are so young, it'll be what they always know and remember. Definitely some food for thought for me!