One of my favorite things about the holidays is talking about different family traditions. Each family is different and I love reading and talking about different things that make the holidays special. I think this is partly because these are what gives a family an identity, a distinct heritage. Sometimes these are accidental things, sometimes they are intentionally started.
I thought I'd take a few blog posts to outline some of our traditions, things that make us the Smiths, that our children look forward to all year long. Some aren't that different from your family's perhaps, but maybe some are new.
Of course, one of the first things we do is put up the Christmas tree, while listening to Christmas music. We don't have room for colored balls. Each of the girls has gotten 1-3 new ornaments each year, plus Kelly and I have a few, so we stick to the special ornaments. (This isn't a tradition, but two years ago we invested in a very nice artificial, pre-lit tree and it was well worth the money. We've had people in our home surprised to find it isn't a real tree. This is Kelly's favorite, since he was the light person. :-) )
After we put all the ornaments on, Kelly pulls out two that were set aside for the end. You probably can't see from the picture but they are large nails. Kelly starts off by asking the girls why Jesus came to earth to begin with. He talks about how He came to earth to die for us because of our sin and God's love for us.
So when we hang these "Easter ornaments" as Aubrey calls them on our tree, we are purposely reminding our children that behind the gifts and the songs, the baking and the fun, there is a deeper meaning to it all.
We have one more unusual thing we put on our tree. We don't top it with a star or an angel, we have a crown. But this is a crown of thorns. Again as Kelly talks to the girls about it, he reminds them that if Jesus hadn't been the Son of God who came to purposely die a horrible death for us, he would have been just another baby.
This helps us start off this season on a very good note. Yes we are all excited about presents and seeing family. The girls have been practicing Christmas music for their musical next month. We have stockings hanging up and plans to bake. But as a family, we stop and take the time to remember why we celebrate this time of year. And it's not that the baby Jesus was born in a stable. It's that God sent His son, the Messiah - fulfilling a promise made back in Genesis 3 - who would come to pay the price for our sins.
While this is not "traditional" Christmas to many, we have found that this helps keep everything in perspective. I hear many Christians bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas. We decided to do something about it, and this is one tradition we started to keep the focus where it should be.