The other evening I got my Christmas tree all set up and I think I’m 100% in the holiday spirit. Although, here’s what the Christmas spirit sometimes looks like in my case:
Traditions are a HUGE part of Christmas for me and if one of them doesn’t happen, it can sometimes feel like Christmas is wrong. I can get pretty stubborn about my traditions and when it looks like we have to change things… whoa Nelly I may pitch a fit. Christmas Eve has to go a certain way: we have to sing certain songs at church, we have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and drink eggnog WITH nutmeg, Mom has to make something besides gross gumbo. Christmas morning has to go a certain way: everyone opens one gift at a time, we have to eat orange Danish (Mom tries to weasel out of this every year by sneaking in Sister Schubert’s pigs in a blanket), pajamas must stay on until mid day. Even decorating… I have a certain ornament that simply MUST hang on the front of the tree.
Yes, I know I sound like a total Christmas brat but there is something simply magical about these things. I feel like the closer it gets to Christmas the more I look forward to this magic.
I wanted to take a moment to share some of my Christmas traditions, both family ones and then ones that I’ve created for myself over the years (as well as a few that I want to start making a tradition!):
My mom is a preschool teacher (and has worked in this industry for longer than I’ve been alive) so over the years she has collected quite a TON of ornaments her students have given her as gifts. Our family tree is typically covered in most of these ornaments, but we do have a large collection of family ones. As I mentioned above, I have a special ornament (all 3 of us do) that I got when I was a baby. It’s really a really cute Christmas ball that has this little dress on it with like Baby’s 1st Christmas or something. Every year Mom will hang it on the tree in like an obscure place and every year I will move it to the very front. My brother has a Christmas ball as well, but his is Ninja Turtles and my Mom hates it. She’s hated it ever since he got it when he was like 3. My sister doesn’t really have an ornament like that, but she does have this soccer player one she got when she was a kid so we say it’s her special ornament.
When it was time for me to start my own Christmas tree, I really considered themed trees. But that just didn’t seem right AT ALL. Christmas trees, to me, are about memories and reminiscing on them as you pull out every ornament. One of my favorite parts about decorating our family tree with my parents is laughing about past Christmas stories and I wanted to bring that same enjoyment to my own. My own tree is a hodge podge of ornaments I’ve collected since high school and each one still has such a fun memory for me. Like the gold elf talking a cell phone… it’s part of a pair of elves talking on cell phones that my college freshman roommate and I split to say we’d always stay in touch. Or the Pinocchio key chain turned ornament a friend brought me back from Italy when she visited in high school. I also try to find a new ornament each year to add to my tree. Here are this year’s models:
Hands down if we do not sing “What Child Is This?” at our Christmas Eve service I will march up to the front of the church, grab the mic, and instruct the church to open their hymnals to page 394. It is my FAVORITE Christmas hymn and has been since… well, forever.
While I’m not a huge fan of all the Christmas music that plays during the holidays (and October and November) I’m a big fan of Christmas movies. Not so much newer ones, although Elf gets rewatched quite a bit in my house, but older ones. There are staples: It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas. Then there are those that may not be your “go-to” Christmas movies: The Shop Around the Corner, Christmas in Connecticut, Holiday Inn. I could watch these movies every day of the holidays and not get tired of them! In recent years we’ve watched A Christmas Story (after growing up hearing how my mom thought it was totally stupid… she turned out to be wrong) all day on Christmas Day. These movies definitely add to the Christmas magic!
I’m at the age where my peers have created families. They have multiple children and have their own Christmas traditions. While I love my own family’s, lately I’ve been so excited about the prospect of creating my own traditions for my future potential family. Obviously I want to keep the things above, but know I want to incorporate some other things into Christmas. Last year I purchased The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp.
It’s a Christmas daily devotional that explores the whole Advent season starting in the Old Testament. I did about half of it last December but then had surgery and just never picked it back up. This year my goal is to actually do it every day! But what I love most about it is that there are these ornaments that go with it (just printed from her website… I modge podged them onto wooden squares and made them a little more durable) and you hang up each day’s corresponding ornament.
Each time I have ready my day’s devotional and hung up my ornament, I think about how much I want to do this with my own children. Obviously reading the whole devotion would be too much, but reading the Bible verse that goes with it and then letting them hang the ornament would be meaningful I think. There’s also a little “activity” that goes with it… like “Do something to please God today” or “Help someone with a hard task.” Things that would enhance anyone’s Christmas season.
I’m very excited about this Christmas season and all the hope it has the possibility of bringing. Looking forward to sharing it with family and friends, co-workers, and all my blogging buddies! Happy Thursday!