Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Keeping CHRIST in Christmas..

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December 13, 2011

Our Family Christmas Traditions–Keeping CHRIST in Christmas

Keeping Christ in Christmas in this highly commercialized world can sometimes be a challenge.  The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season can bring about feelings of stress, dread, financial woes, etc..  Making it at times quite difficult to feel the TRUE meaning of Christmas and it’s spirit.
I wanted to share with you some things that we do as a family to turn down the stress associated with the wonderful holiday season, and to increase it’s TRUE meaning and PURPOSE.  Here are a few of our traditions that we look forward to every year!
Now for many, decorating for Christmas is an enjoyable thing, but for me, it’s stressful!   So we keep decorating simple.  We have a few strands of lights hung outside, a simple tree with kid safe ornaments, several kid safe nativity sets, a not-kid safe one HIGH on a shelf, a basket of Christmas books and some Christmas Beanie Babies, and 2 wreaths on the our front doors.  The kids are involved in our decorating, and the nativity sets that are kid safe are a great reminder to them of what we are celebrating!
SIMPLE GIFT GIVINGMy husband and I both come from large families, and they just keep growing.  So gift giving to family members can be a financial strain.   When we were first married, we started giving each family a Christmas Ornament of some significance, typically something related to our year, or a family event.  Theses are small, inexpensive ornaments that I typically purchase in packs of 12 for about $15.  We love decorating our tree each year and remembering the meaning of the ornaments, who gave them, etc… and we hope that our family has found the same joy in the simple gifts we have given them each year.
Another way to limit spending (therefore relieving financial burdens often associated with Christmas) is to limit the gifts you give.  In our home our children receive 3 gifts each, and a stocking.  Jesus Christ received 3 gifts (one from each wise man), therefore that is what my children receive (from us).  It’s also a great way to bring Christmas back to the TRUE meaning. 
MINIMIZE SANTAWe do not do ‘Santa’ in our home.  This was a choice that my husband felt strongly about before we had children, and I’ll admit this is the first year that it’s actually been hard to follow through with (now that my oldest son is 5).  There is nothing wrong with doing Santa, if you choose to practice this tradition in your home.  BUT try to maintain an emphasis on the TRUE meaning, it is far to easy for kids to get wrapped up in Christmas being about SANTA.  Trying to explain to our children about Santa has proved slightly difficult, but I did find a great book that we read each year, which outlines the tradition of Santa, where it came from, why people do it and what the REAL meaning of Christmas is.
ADVENTWe do advent in a variety of ways.  You may have seen my post on the Wooden Advent Tree I made, we fill it with some candy and a scripture to read each night. 

For school we are doing DISCOVER CHIRSTMAS, we aren’t doing everything in the book, but we are at least doing the daily readings.
THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BOOKSThis is a new countdown we are just starting this year, this idea was branched off of a lesson given by our Bishop’s wonderful wife, her family does it for 25days.  We will be doing a 12 days of Christmas BOOK countdown.  Twelve Christmas books will be wrapped, and attached on the outside of each one will be a scripture verse and activity from the New Era Article “Advent Calendar:  Prophecies of Christ’s Coming” from the Dec 2008 issue.  (I had previously stocked up with Christmas themed books last year from Deseret Books after Christmas sales).  Not all the books are spiritual themed, but most are.

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SERVICEWe have always baked cookies to deliver to our neighbors, pulled an angel from a Christmas tree, donated to Toys for Tots and/or pulled a gift from the ward tree.  In years past we have given anonymous donations to families we felt had a need.  This year, some friends have asked us to go in on a 12 days of Christmas gifts program with them…and we are really excited!  No matter how big or small; nothing says CHRISTmas like giving Christ-like service to others!  I loved this idea that I found on Pinterest, and hope to maybe incorporate something similar next year (Advent and Service in ONE)!
CHRISTMAS EVEWe always watch Mr. Kruger’s Christmas and The Nativity on Christmas Eve, this year we are blessed for PBS Hawaii to broadcast The Mormon Tabernacle Choir with David Archuleta on Christmas Eve! 

OTHER TRADITIONS (not necessarily spiritual, but still meaningful!)

A few other traditions we have is sending a yearly Christmas Letter, I won’t lie, this is mostly for us, we keep them each year with our Christmas Card picture; it makes a great little family history!  The Christmas Card is another tradition, we have sent one every year, with a picture since we got married!  These traditions go back to my Grandpa Hilsinger, after he passed I received copies of all his Christmas Letters past, it was such an amazing thing to read!
Personalized ornaments for the kids each year in their stockings!  I have a handful of ornaments from my growing up that I brought with me, and I want my kids to be able to do the same!   Their first Christmas they get 2, a brass one and another one, and they always have their name and the year. 

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