Tag Archives: Traditions

Christmas Traditions

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In this week’s post, my friend, author Amanda Flinn, shares some great insights with us on how to establish and continue meaningful family traditions for the Christmas season. Be sure to check out Amanda’s encouraging—and often humorous—blog at www.AmandaFlinn.com.


 

I love family traditions.

Especially traditions associated with Christmas.

And recently, I was able to sit down with a few older people in our community and hear stories of their Christmas memories and traditions from long ago. This was such a special moment, not only for them, but for me as well. Hearing about their childhood memories, along with the memories of their parenting years, gave me a sweet opportunity to reflect on my own family, our traditions and the legacy that I hope to pass down to my grandchildren one day.

Depending on your season of life, sometimes you will be the tradition maker and sometimes you’ll be the receiver of the traditions. I have three children at home right now, so I seem to be in the busy stage of tradition making. I love it, but it’s a lot more work than my mom let on. Over the years, my husband and I have used traditions from our own childhood, but we’ve also adopted a few new ones for our kids.

And what we have discovered is that the key to lasting traditions is purpose, joy and fulfillment.

 

Traditions need to have purpose.

Why are you doing it? What’s the point? If it’s to get a great picture for your Instagram account, then great, but know the reason. Traditions were super popular in the Bible. Some we still follow today. Some we have let go of because they no longer serve their purpose. Do you go on long walks after your holiday meal because your purpose is to create healthy lifestyle memories with your children? Perfect. Then get out there and move it.

 

Joy. We all want joy, right?

We sing about it, and talk about it, and I literally have the word hanging all over my house at Christmastime. Why? Because I need the reminder to be joyful. While Christmas is amazing, it can be stressful, and if we are not careful, the joy can be sucked right out of it. So, what brings you joy? What traditions do you have that keep you focused on Jesus and the true joy that He brings? Find out what those are and put them on repeat, ‘cause mama, you’re gonna need ‘em!

 

And finally, fulfillment.

If it’s not filling you up, then stop doing it. For example: If you make a gingerbread house every year, just because you have always made a gingerbread house, but secretly hate making the gingerbread house, then this is the time to put that tradition to rest. Your mom will survive. Your kids will survive. In fact, you may all be better for it.

What’s great about traditions is that they can be adapted through the generations. They can be flipped and switched and moved around until you find some that stick. Here are three that we have in our home. If you love them, try them out for your family, or adapt them as needed. If you don’t, then no worries, but find some of your own and enjoy the journey.

 

Three Presents

In an effort to keep Christmas simple and tie our celebrations back to Jesus, each of our kids get three gifts on Christmas morning, to represent the three gifts that Jesus received at his birth. To make this fun and a little more drawn out, we hide the gifts and leave clues for them to find them around the house. My kids are 5, 11, and 14. They still love this.

 

The Christmas Eve Ornament

Every year on Christmas Eve, my kids get to open a special ornament. The ornament represents something good or memorable that happened to them within the past year. A cross for my son’s baptism, a parasailing chute for overcoming fear on family vacation, or even an old pacifier or special toy that they love. I write their name and year on each ornament and when they move out and start their own families, they will have eighteen ornaments to take with them.

 

The Advent Calendar

About 8 years ago, I made a simple Advent calendar from a mini muffin tin. It was an easy DIY that I found on Pinterest. Inside each little space is a message for the day and a scripture reading. Sometimes the message is a task to do in preparation for Christmas, like “bake cookies for a neighbor” or “wrap presents”. Other days, it’s an activity to do together like “family game night” or “drive around and look at Christmas lights”. Some take two minutes, like “say a prayer for our country” and others take more thought and planning, like “pay for someone’s meal behind you in the drive thru”. The scripture reading each day leads up through the story of Jesus’ birth (also found on Pinterest).

Whatever traditions you have, just make sure that they work for you! Have fun making them, receiving them and finding purpose, joy and fulfillment in them. Praying sweet memories for all of you during this Christmas season.

If you have a special Christmas tradition, we would love to hear about it! Comment down below.

 

~ By Amanda Flinn of www.AmandaFlinn.com

Christmas Tree Traditions

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Christmas Tree Traditions

 

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Our 2015 Christmas Tree

When Robby and I got married, we had the usual makings of a household – towels, linen, baking dishes, etc. What we didn’t have was a Christmas tree, and I was hesitant to invest in a fake tree, lights, ornaments, and the necessary storage containers. Fortunately, the previous owners left us their old tree and decorations in the attic!

We spent all day pulling out the tree and bags and boxes full of lights and ornaments. Many of the decorations were lovingly homemade and – since the house was built in 1939 – were older than I was. Unfortunately, some of the bags had gotten buggy, but we were able to salvage most of it.

The tree was small, but we learned that it fits perfectly on top of its storage container, which actually looks pretty nice with a tree skirt around it. It also gives us plenty of room to put a few presents under it. There was even an old train car, which we put out every year. We liked the old school lights, but we eventually replaced them with similar ones that are newer and safer.

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Handmade ornament

We still love our old tree. More than anything, we appreciate the connection it gives us to the past and the family that carefully decorated it long before us.

 

New Traditions

 

Otter

Our river otter

Although we’re just a few miles from the capital, our lot is surrounded by trees and is close to a low-lying swampy area, which makes it seem like we’re out in the country. The local wildlife agree, so we see more animals in our yard than we would expect in the city. We’ve even named our yard “Jones Park.”

A couple years ago, I had the idea of a Jones Park Christmas Tree. In addition to the usual lights and colored balls, it would feature ornaments of creatures that we’ve seen on our property. There’s the usual red and blue birds and a squirrel. Then there’s the deer we saw after the Fourth of July fireworks. My favorite is the otter – yes, an otter – that we saw running down our road one morning. I finally found a raccoon last month, and now I’m on the hunt for an armadillo and a possum. You should see the looks on the store clerks’ faces when I ask them if they have any armadillo ornaments! (I know I could just go online, but the year-long hunt is part of the fun.)

We also have some ornaments from the places we’ve visited, like St. Augustine and Boston. These are great reminders of fun trips throughout the years.

 

Hodge Podge

 

I’m not sure what Martha Stewart would say about our hodge podge Christmas tree, with a pine cone fox next to a ceramic figurine from Virginia, but we like it. It seems to represent who we are – a mix of old character with a bit of fun. And we love to show our tree to friends and family, telling them about the owl that stays in our live oak tree and about our trips to the St. Mark’s lighthouse. We also remember to appreciate the family that lovingly built our home and lived in it for so many years. It reminds us to appreciate our own family.

 

The Meaning of the Tree

 

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Reminder of the Cross

Throughout the Old Testament, the symbol of a tree is often used in reference to Jesus. Terms like the Branch, the Branch of the Lord, and the Branch of David are seen in Scriptures such as Isaiah 4:2, Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15, and Zechariah 6:12. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus dies when He “hangs on a tree,” meaning He is crucified on a wooden cross (Galatians 3:13).

When we put up our Christmas tree each year, we remember these things. The star on top reminds us of the star the three wise men followed to reach the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:2). The tree itself reminds us that Jesus was born so that He might die on a wooden cross (Hebrews 10). The lights remind us that God is Light, and His light shines within us (1 John 1:5 and 2 Corinthians 4:6). Even the silly ornaments remind us that He is with us through every adventure, every day (Matthew 28:20).

If we never put up a Christmas tree, we would still be Christians. If we never had ornaments and presents and watched corny Christmas movies, we would still be His. But thank God for sweet reminders of His sacrifice, His blessings, and His presence that stays with us all year long. These are the real gifts of Christmas.

 

Your Traditions

 

Do you have any neat Christmas traditions (or hacks)? We’d love to hear them! Please share them below in the comments section.