Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christmas Traditions Old and New

Well, the holiday season is come and gone, a new year is in full swing.

I was thinking the other day about the perfect order in which of some of our most special holidays occur. First Thanksgiving, thanking God for all the ways He's sustained and protected us throughout the year. . . and then Christmas, a time to reflect on and be thankful for the Perfect Gift from God - the birth of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. . . and then a New Year! A clean slate! This year my goal is to live with an 'attitude of gratitude', as they say. I'm thankful for a Lord and Savior, who came so that He could die as the perfect sacrifice, so that I could have a clean slate - I'm grateful that each new day brings a new start.

These holidays also bring about a time to reflect and remember. I love the time of memory-sharing around the Thanksgiving Dinner table. This past Thanksgiving was especially sweet, having all 3 of my sisters and my Dad with us.

Christmas time is full of traditions, and with 6 children still at home, they don't let me forget a one of them! One of my favorites is the trimming of the tree. Dad takes the kiddos out to a cut-your-own tree farm and they choose the best on the lot, then after hauling it home, Mom whips up the hot chocolate while they get it into the stand and align it just right. Mom and Luke get the lights on the tree, then we break out the ornaments. Each child has their own collection, and Mom & Dad have their own collection. First ornaments on the tree are always the first ornaments I made the first Christmas Mike and I were married -- he found out in early December that year he'd be laid off at end of year -- so a frugal Christmas it was that year! I made our stockings from scraps of fabric I had around. We cut a cedar tree from a friend's farm nearby, and I made ornaments from pipe cleaners. Some still have the twisty-ties I made into ornament hooks! After all these years, I still enjoy seeing them on our tree along side newer and shinier ornaments. The kids enjoy hearing the story of that long-ago Christmas, year after year after year.

Last year we began a new tradition - we participated in an ornament exchange with my MOMYS (Mothers of Many Young Siblings) friends. The ornaments were based on the idea of a Jesse Tree. This is a collection of 25 different ornaments, each representing a person or event in the family tree and/or prophesy of Christ. It has been great fun, and the foundation for our family devotions during the month of December. Each day we unwrap one and read through the scripture references that explain its significance. The ornaments are all handmade and as unique as all the friends that made them. Instead of displaying them on a tree, we hang a pine garland over the pantry door and display them there - everyone can see them and enjoy them, and helps bring the story of Christmas to our minds often.

I pray you all are having a wonderful start to a glorious new year!

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