I’m working really hard to make Christmas special for the girls this year. I don’t think they remember much of prior years, but as they grow older, I want their memories to be special and meaningful. Starting family traditions can be difficult. I don’t want to do things just for the sake of tradition. I want there to be meaning and fun involved too. So, instead of implementing tradition for the sake of tradition, it seems like the next couple years will be years of learning and exploring. As our children grow older, some things will be more fun than others.
A few goals:
– Focus on family. I want Christmas to be a time of having fun together, serving together, giving together, worshiping together, etc. I want the fact that we can do it together as a family to be a highlight of our children’s Christmas memories.
– Focus on meaning. I want our kids to understand the meaning of Christmas at an early age and recognize its significance.
– Focus on fun. I want Christmas to be their favorite time of the year. Whether we are baking cookies, decorating the Christmas tree, or watching a Christmas movie together- I want us to have fun doing it.
So, in trying out new activities, here are a few things we’ve done already this year:
Decorating Night- Thanksgiving weekend was the kickoff for our Christmas season, and we gave the girls their first Christmas presents. They got their very own Christmas tree- pink of course- along with some decorations and a new ornament. One thing I plan to do is give them a new ornament each year representing something special.
On that Saturday night, we ate Thanksgiving leftovers, decorated the big tree, the girl’s tree, watched Christmas movies, and drank hot chocolate w/ marshmallows. It was a fun, family night!
Advent Calendar– In teaching the girls about the meaning of Christmas, I ordered each of them an advent calendar. Finding one with the nativity story was a little difficult, so I ordered some online and found some filled with chocolate. It wasn’t the cheap $1.47 ones that were in the stores, but it’s been worth the extra money. Opening a new window each day has been meaningful & fun!
Baking- I want my girls to enjoy cooking and baking, so we made Christmas cookies together. In total, it was about a 3 day process. The first day, Lily helped me make the cookie dough and surprisingly she did great measuring the flour and sugar- I was impressed! The dough had to be refrigerated overnight so on the second day we used cookie cutters to cut out different shapes. On the third day, we (Filipe was in charge of that one!) decorated some of them with icing and sprinkles. They did about 3 each- which is a lot for 2 & 3 year olds! I still have plenty waiting to be decorated.
Live Nativity– On Monday night we took the girls to a live nativity. One of the local churches in the area puts on the live performance each year, and it was spectacular. They set up the parking lot as if you were in Bethlehem and you walk throughout each phase of the story. There were real donkeys, camels, sheep, belly dancers w/ fire, and each of the main characters of the story.
Lily got a little scared (which I expected)- especially when the Roman soldiers started shouting at the crowd, and the camels were pretty big (& scary) for her, but overall enjoyed it a lot. We have been learning about Angel Gabriel lately (from our Advent calendar), so she really liked seeing the angel appear on top of where the shepherds were. The next day I went in her room and she was wrapped in a pink blanket, standing on a box pretending to be Angel Gabriel. She kept saying, “Don’t be afraid- I bring you good news!”
Cailyn enjoyed it and liked the animals a lot. During the show, when the doors of the stable opened and Jesus had been born, the first thing she said was, “Cow!”. There was a live cow inside the stable.
What are some of your favorite traditions during Christmas? I’d love any ideas and/or suggestions!
Below are some pictures of what we’ve done already: