Gratitude Day 863
Luke 1:35:Gabriel answered, “The Spirit of Holiness will fall upon you and Almighty God will spread his shadow of power over in a cloud of glory! This is why the child born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”
Traditions are a huge part of Advent and Christmas. Growing up, we had certain traditions that we did every year. Traditions that we held to no matter what was going.
These days, some traditions are different. Yet, I still find great comfort in continuing certain traditions year after year.
Think about it. What are some traditions that YOU hold near and dear to your heart during Advent and Christmas? Where did they start? Why are they so meaningful for YOU?
Yesterday, I volunteered at a kindergarten class at our local school. The teacher asked each student to decorate a paper ornament. On the ornament, they wrote about a family Christmas tradition. It was so fun to hear the different traditions that these 5- and 6-year-olds already hold dear.
Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite Advent and Christmas traditions. If one of these touches your heart, PLEASE make it one of your traditions! I’m not sharing these traditions to encourage you to do a whole bunch of extra things in the next four weeks. Rather, I’m hoping my list will encourage you to think about traditions that are meaningful and important to you. Maybe there’s a tradition that you haven’t celebrated for a while. Is it time to re-create it? What traditions do you want your kids and grandkids to celebrate and remember? When we honor these traditions with younger generations, this is how they get passed down and carried on into the next generation.
Here are some of my favorite Advent and Christmas traditions.
The Advent Wreath
Before the first Sunday of Advent, my sisters and I tromped through the woods and gathered specific greens that we wove together to make an Advent wreath; one for home and one for church. On each of the Sundays before Christmas and on Christmas Eve, we lit one additional candle of the wreath. We’d share a little reading, often remembering what each candle stands for: hope, peace, love and joy.
These days, Hubby Rick and I continue the tradition of lighting an Advent wreath. It’s one that my mom gave us years ago. Traditionally, an Advent wreath has three purple candles and one pink candle with a white candle in the center. If you don’t have a specific Advent wreath, use whatever candles you have, whatever color they are. If you have some greens, make them into a circle and then add the candles. If not, just use what you have! Then, each Sunday, light an additional candle, lighting the white center candle on Christmas Eve. Here’s a link with a little devotion that you can share as you light the candles.
Some people are crazy for Christmas music. Others might find it not as amusing.
I LOVE Christmas music. I LOVE how so many songs share the story of Christmas with the words of the songs. I don’t play Christmas music all day, every day, like some people. But I certainly appreciate the wonderful songs and carols of the season.
The last two years, I created Christmas playlists that I used throughout the season. Truth? I didn’t get one made for this year. But can’t we enjoy the previous playlists just the same? You bet!
Here’s the 2023 playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G8R5SO-vjE&list=PLU7_1Ijr2vMPIg0kkMDAv-pMiesqTizcE
Here’s the 2022 playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-KEoIEAXjs&list=PLU7_1Ijr2vMO–MrinnnB7s7XUdgFkrVJ
Just click on the links, turn up the volume and enjoy these playlists for the next few weeks!
Decorating the Christmas Tree
As a child, we had plenty of Charlie Brown Christmas trees. My parent’s didn’t have money to buy a tree. We went out into our woods and found the best tree we could. It was usually a white pine; the kind with super long needles. There were lots of space between the branches. We filled those huge spaces with silver icicles and lots of handmade ornaments.
These days, I remain committed to a fresh tree; even after the year that all the needles fell off the tree.
Last weekend, my sister and I went to a tree farm looking for Frasier Fir trees. The owner took us out to the field and helped us cut and trim up our trees. They are so different than those Charlie Brown trees from my youth.
One day this week, our four-year-old granddaughter was at our house after school. I hoped she would be interested in decorating the tree. She hung five ornaments right next to each other; at her eye-level. Then, she hung another couple ornaments in a different location. She decided that reading books with Grandpa was much more interesting. The Three Bears won out over decorating the tree.
Christmas Morning Rolls
My mom liked to make homemade bread. At Christmas, she made cinnamon rolls in the shape of a Christmas tree, covered with icing and sprinkles. We had these on Christmas morning. She also made additional versions and shared them with others: the postman, the milkman, the neighbors, etc.
My bread making skills are very sub-par to my Mom’s. Hubby Rick and I don’t have a Christmas morning breakfast tradition. We anticipate all the other good food we will have the rest of the day and skip breakfast.
Deaton Gift Exchange
My family celebrates Christmas early. We have reserved the second Saturday of December for many years. About 10 years ago, we began a family gift exchange tradition that has been very popular; a highlight of Christmas for some of my nieces and nephews.
It began when I was overwhelmed with all the stuff my mom had. It was SO. MUCH. I declared that we were not purchasing Christmas gifts. We’d simply use things that my mom had.
Each year, I wrap up things from my parents, grandparents, and yes, even my great-grandparents. I write little stories with the gifts. Then, we have a white elephant gift exchange. We’ve created a few rules that are enforced every year. The gifts include some silly things that no one wants. (My mom’s potato pail.) I’ve tried to include a few things that I knew would be popular, like my dad’s dog tags from when he served in the Army.
Over 250 items have been used in our Deaton Family Gift Exchange. This year, everyone is bringing back something or including something from their treasures that comes from our family. This is a great way that our family stories and traditions are passed down to younger generations. And super fun to hear other people’s memories of something.
Hearing the Advent and Christmas Stories from the Bible
The basic story line of the Christmas story never changes. Yes, how we hear the story may be different based on what is going in our lives at the time. It’s not just the actual birth of Jesus as found in Luke 2. It’s all the various things that God orchestrated to bring emphasis and confident in God’s plan for the world.
These stories are special. Important to remember and share. With each reading, I remember or learning something different about the events leading up to the birth of Jesus.
Christmas Eve Candle Lighting
By far, my favorite Christmas tradition happens at the end of worship on Christmas Eve. It’s when everyone lights a candle and we sing, “Silent Night.” For me, it’s such a touching moment. I’m transported back to a stable in Bethlehem and think about why God sent a baby boy into this world. With only the light of the candles and the lit Christmas tree, I never grow old of this sight and feeling. In fact, I wish this moment could last much longer. There is peace for a minute. Whatever is going on in the world, it is put on hold. It’s just a bunch of candles and people singing a beloved Christmas carol. And I love it.
Again, what are your favorite traditions? What things are meaningful and important to you? Are you sharing them with your family so they will be passed down to another generation?
For Advent and Christmas traditions that are important, I am grateful.
Holy God – The stories leading up and including the birth of Jesus are so important. W retell them over and over this time of the year. May we create and honor special traditions this time of the year. Amen.
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