on Christmas & traditions

I love family traditions & Christmas is just about my favorite. I vividly remember so many things about Christmas with my family growing up. I loved digging out all the decorations with my mom, turning on our favorite Mitch Miller Christmas cd, & decorating the house and tree. The candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church was one of my favorite things. It was beautiful & I loved spending Christmas Eve singing "O Holy Night" by candlelight.

I have become especially sentimental since becoming a mom. Our mentor moms at MOPS last week talked about traditions they started when their children were younger & which ones have lasted now that their children are adults. It got me really thinking about how the things we are doing with our 3 now will carry on & even may continue on as we eventually add grandkids to our family. (how's that for thinking ahead?!) I wonder about the things that I do to try and make Christmas more special and memorable & about what the takeaway will be for my kids as they grow up. What will they actually remember? What traditions that we do now as a family will they continue to do with their own families one day? I love the magic of Christmas & I love how fun it is to celebrate with my kids but I have been really convicted this year about making sure that the focus of the season is on the reason why we celebrate in the first place. Looking back on their childhood Christmas traditions I want my kids to remember that Jesus was the focus of our holiday season. His birth is the whole reason we celebrate & while there are lots of fun things that also get thrown in, I hope they can look back and say that Jesus really was the center of our Christmas celebration.

I always wrap 25 Christmas books before December & the kids take turns opening one book a day. That has been a fun way to countdown to Christmas. We have so many great children's books about Christmas but I wanted to add something else this year. I searched for Advent readings that were appropriate for young kids & found this great one! It is a Jesus Storybook Bible Advent reading plan & we have been reading it each night before we do our bedtime books. It even has a cute free printable that goes along with it!

One of my favorite things we do in December is drink hot chocolate while driving around looking at Christmas lights. Grayson LOVES all things Christmas and he gets so excited when he sees lights. Even if you have one tiny bush with lights, he loves it. He is the one that I think will remember helping me decorate one day:) We also love going to Opryland each year and looking at all the beautiful decorations. We will be adding the drive through lights at Jellystone to that event this year!

I also look forward to Operation Christmas Child each year. Samaritan's Purse does Operation Christmas Child and it is a great way to teach your kids about serving others & that giving is better than receiving. We love filling up a couple shoeboxes every November to send off to children in need. It's fun for Grayson, Griffin, and Cheney to shop for these kids & pic things out that they think will be fun and useful. We even have them track our boxes and they will eventually email me & let me know where the boxes end up! Last year they went to Ghana & they traveled to the Philippines the year before last.

One thing that my kids look forward to each year is getting their special ornament from Ben & I. I add it to their stocking and it is special for that specific year. They get to hang it on their own tree and one day all of those ornaments will go with them to their own home! I love pulling them out each year and seeing what all they have.

Christmas is pretty spectacular as a child, but it is even better as a parent. I love starting special traditions with these 3 & seeing the magic of it all through their eyes! What are some of your favorite traditions?

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