Now that our family looks a little bit different our family Christmas traditions have moved around as well! I want to first start by taking the pressure off. We’ve tried some traditions one year and then totally dropped them the next. Our kids are still young so they don’t really remember, but if your kids are older allow them the chance to speak up for traditions.
Since December is already in full swing at this point you may be feeling the rush and pull of the holidays. Bless you. Holidays can be such a double edged sword.
Family Christmas traditions are made to be fun but can wind up bringing in more stress. So let’s look at how you can be more present (pun?) less distracted and create traditions that focus on connection rather than tradition for traditions sake.
I also feel like I need to be upfront. I’m not very sentimental. Every time we’ve moved or cleaned out a closet or gone through a box of memorabilia from the attic I’m the first to trash it as my husband reaches in and asks, “are you sure?”
So, for me, changing, adapting, and foregoing is not much of an issue. If you’re sentimental and like to hold on to things, that’s perfect for you. And some of what I have to say may be hard to wrap your mind around.
Traditions have the ability to do big things for your family. They can ground you in what matters, create a safe space and assurance of a secure life for your little ones. I see the good in traditions but I also can’t help but see the stress that comes with the pressure they could bring too.
Tread lightly on the season and my prayer is that you hold to the true meaning of this season. The gravity of what it means for God to Live with us. Take time to reflect on our creator giving up his Heavenly home to come dwell in a broken home.
TRADITIONS ARE CONNECTIONS
Years ago, before I had kids, I met a woman that had 4 of her own. Hmmm. At the time her kids were a bit older, I think the oldest was 16.
Their dad had a job very similar to our dads (my husbands) and he didn’t have much time off. So when Christmas came around and there was the natural few days off, they all decided as a family to pass on gifts and take a trip instead.
You may be going, whoaaaaa, there’s no way I could skip on gifts for my family but remember where this whole blog is going. Traditions are connections. They are not monetary and they are not traditions for the sake of being traditions.
It may feel backwards to think of doing something similar to this but think about Jan. 14th. (Just a random day a few weeks after Christmas). All these gifts you spent $100 of dollars on, where are they and where will they be a few months or years from now.
But what if that money was spent on the actual connection? What if the time, the memories and the experiences was the focus. Now, to ease your mind, I think she packed with her a few little trinkets so on Christmas morning the kids had little things to open but it was not much.
Now, with 4 kids of our own, I can see how budgets and things can get in the way of the true culture of Christmas. It was a whole other ball game with 2 kiddos or even 3. But somehow when you add in another human you start to see the bills jet rocket out the window, not just fly!
As I go through the month of December I make sure to pull out traditions that will leave a feeling of connection and a culture of community for myself and our kids and it looks something like this!
OUR MEANINGFUL CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
This is a tad deeper than the traditional talk on traditions. You’re going to be building a culture within your family. As you build tradition you build community and feelings.
As soon after Thanksgiving as humanly possible we go pick out a live tree. Texas is not particularly known for their tree farms but we’ve tried that route and it was a flop … 89 degrees and sticker burrs with a tree that went totally brown with in 18 hours helped us form the new tradition of supporting a local charity that puts up a tent every year with live trees straight from the Carolinas or Vermont!
We keep our tree lit with only white lights and a star on top. That’s right. That’s the only thing on our tree. No garland, ornaments or popcorn. Keeping our main tree lit with white pure lights reminds us to keep the center of our focus simple and pure.
We have a kid tree that goes up in the kitchen (very fake and needs to be replaced) with colored lights, handmade stuff, string and all the sorts. Our kids bring home 17 homemade ornaments every day so at the end of the season when we’re packing up we let them pick their favorite to wrap in tissue paper and put in the tub to store!
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Decorations are limited, maybe it’s my stage and that will change someday but for now we have … stockings and a tree. That’s really it. I like to buy a lot of live poinsettias on Black Friday when they’re only $1 at Lowes and fill the house with red, pink, and white living plants. I don’t have to store anything and they bring life into our home.
I always send out Christmas cards, every year, newborn or not! I want to stay connected with our friends and family and the process of designing and mailing is fun for me. My husband has a huge hand in this and I hope next year or in years to come my kids can do it with me as well!
You have heard me say it before. We’re a screen free family … however … White Christmas is the only christmas movie I “must” watch. It holds more nostalgia for me than anything else. As our kids get older (double digits is our rule) I’d love for them to join me in this tradition.
CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS TO ADOPT (AND NOT)
If you’re looking for some fun or inspirational ways to build connection over the holidays I have a few suggestions. Have I done all of them, no. Should you do all of them, no. Are these all the traditions to try, no.
These are ideas and remember tradition is more than the act, it’s the community you build within your family. If it’s too hard or too stressful, if you’re more worried about the outcome than your family is, drop it. It’s fine to start over a few times and get it right.
So here are some (possible) fun family christmas traditions to adopt or not, you choose!
- Gingerbread houses
- Cookie decorating
- Christmas light looking
- Christmas card bingo
- The Giving Manger
- A gratitude jar
- 3 gifts idea
- 4 gifts idea
- Make your own ornaments
- Make your own candy
- Donate food to the food bank
- Elf on a shelf
- Christmas caroling
- Advent calendar
- Writing letters to Santa or family
- Christmas campfire
- Matching jammies
- Christmas movie
- Hanging lights together
- Simple Christmas tree
- Christmas Eve Service
- Come up with your own!
Remember tradition is about connection. If you forget one year to do something you’ve done for years past see if there is another way to connect. The feelings of overwhelm when it comes to trying to squeeze it all in is a true weight of anxiety.
This season we’ve learned that it’s not always about the actual event or act of doing something specific. It’s more about being together with a feeling of calm and unrush.
Changing your family dynamics is hard and if you expect to stay set in your past ways you’re missing the point.
As you form your own traditions or go through ones you remember from your own childhood focus on being fully present and dwelling in the true Christmas spirit. Keep in mind that the day after Christmas with your family is just as meaningful and important as the days leading up to it!
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