Monday, November 28, 2011

Evaluating Traditions

Like I said before, this year is the Year of Traditions.  Our 3 year old is watching very. closely. and takes traditions very. seriously.  If you have an oldest child who is a little bit OCD, you know what I'm talking about. Teacher Man and I have spent hours talking about how the little (and the big) things we do around the holidays share our unspoken values with our children.

We've even done some online research into the history behind different decorations and cultural traditions (we know we're nerds) to figure out if we want to include them in our family culture.  And, like I've said before, I feel like we have an amazing opportunity to adjust our vision of normal (ours and then our children's) so our everyday (and holiday) practices give a clearer reflection of Christ.  

So for this Christmas, here's what that looks like. The boys will receive three gifts (like Jesus did) that we've been saving for them throughout the year.  I tend to garage/consignment sale shop throughout the year and save up treasures I know they'll enjoy.  Each boy will also receive a Compassion gift that they have chosen for a child in need. (Yes, we're choosing for Ben, probably feeding infants since food is so important to him.)

Several of our family members will receive gifts of Compassion partially funded by Caleb doing chores around the house.  We'll also be giving homemade gifts, specially crafted for our loved ones.  We've been considering our relationships with our neighbors.  I'm hoping to put something small together for them.  We appreciate the safe community we live in, and a safe community is made of safe residents. 

Another new tradition that I am especially jazzed about this year is our Jesse Tree.  Ann Voskamp has put together a family devotional that follows the lineage of Jesus, starting with Adam and ending with Christ on Christmas Day.  Because we're actually talking about this ahead of time (glory be!), I have my ornaments made. These are at the end of Ann's devotional to be printed. I glued mine on brown construction paper to give them some added oomph. I have boys.  They destroy things.  We'll be using the garlands in the family room to hang the ornaments in chronological order (did I mention that my son is not the only type-A person in the family? hehe.).

We did end up putting up the tree.  With lots of help.  The ornaments tell the story of God's grace in our family: Teacher Man's pictures from elementary school, the boys' ornaments from each year of their little lives, the picture we gave to all the guests at our wedding asking them to pray. Grace. And my boys are entranced by the lights.  "Mommy, it's so very beautiful!  It's wonderful!" Which gives us a change to talk about the Light of the world.

I'm never without my help.

Nor would I want to be.
Life would be so boring without these little hands.
And our little audience.

"It's so heavy, Momma."

"What's this thingy for?"

There are still a few more traditions that we are mulling over for our family. I guess the goal is not to get rid of all the traditional Christmas practices but to redeem each one in a distinctly Christ-honoring way.  When my children see a Christmas tree, I want them to look at the ornaments and see God's grace.  When they think about gift giving, I want them to immediately think about giving to others in need.  When we talk about the season, I want them to know that it's a special time in which we let others know how much we love them because He first loved us and sent His Son to die for us.

Back to reality, my elder son just said firmly to my younger, "That's not funny, Ben."  Which means that a not so calm response (a.k.a. a physical attack) could be moments away.  Have a blessed day of decorating and anticipating our celebration of Christ's birth!


  1. Krista,
    I just linked this to my blog...I have read this over and over and am so blessed by your words. Thank you for your passion! You have inspired us!!!

  2. Wise and wonderful! ~Tylanna ; )