Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We Aren't Doing Much for Advent (plus a Christmas Tradition)

When Aaron and I got married, I remember putting all this pressure on myself to immediately develop and implement several meaningful Christmas traditions.  

Apparently I thought that was my wifely responsibility/assignment/job.

The only tradition I could scrape up was making a recipe for white hot chocolate that we got with some mugs as a Christmas gift.  

I mean, how perfect is that!  Every year I could make this white hot chocolate having gotten the recipe on our first Christmas...awwwwwwww!

I even kept the recipe card and wrote the years that I made it.

Until about 3 years in when we both admitted we didn't really even like the white hot chocolate!

Womp, womp.  Christmas tradition fail.

I then realized that you can't really force a tradition.  I mean, you can set the stage to increase Christmas tradition likeliness, but it's not like a math equation...

Christmas music+recipe+snow+nobody crying=meaningful family tradition

I finally quit trying to force a tradition.  

Now, lest you think I'm a scrooge/grinch person, we still decorated sugar cookies, read Christmas books, listened to Christmas music, drove around and looked at Christmas lights, etc.  I just gave up trying to make something unique to our family and decided to wait and see what came about organically.  

Enter Leah!

We were decorating the tree one year when she asked if she could wear her Christmas dress while hanging ornaments!

You can bet I pounced on that one!  She wore her Christmas dress and it was all very fun and adorable!

The next year, I remembered and was so excited!

We got all the stuff out for decorating the tree, and I said, "Leah!  Let's go get your Christmas dress on and you can decorate the tree!"

She was not having it!


I figured that forcing my daughter to wear a fancy dress (which would probably make her cry) wasn't exactly within the scope of happy family traditions. 

But, all was not lost!  I tweaked the tradition a bit, and now we have one :)

When we start setting up the tree (which is easier said then done...check back tomorrow for that story), I have the girls sit on the couch and cover their eyes.

Then, I give each girl her Christmas dress.

And when I tell them to open their eyes, they are very excited!

They put their new dresses on, decorate the tree, behave in a very excited way, and engage in little girl silliness.

You'll notice in the above picture that Gracie is wearing a different dress than was on her lap.  I brainlessly bought her the wrong size dress! 

Maggie ran to her closet and gave Gracie her Christmas dress from last year.

I make it a personal policy to not use hand me downs for Christmas or Easter, which I know is kind of silly.  I guess it's my way of ensuring that they younger girls have things that are special and unique to them.  Sometimes it seems like Leah is the only one who gets much that's actually new.

Well, Gracie clearly does not share my sentiments, because she was PUMPED to have Maggie's dress from last year!

Problem solved.

So, yeah, that's our tradition!

The other quasi tradition we have is reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

I've been reading the book every Christmas since I was in high school.

Plus, I cry at the end every.single.time. and the girls look at me like I'm a crazy person.

But, I think that's part of the tradition :)

Additionally, we aren't doing much for advent.

Last year I had an activity for every day in December leading up to Christmas.  Many of the activities were actually things that we would do anyway, they were just more special because they were written down on a note card and put in a fancy little envelope.

I just couldn't get my act together enough to make the list this year.

Pretty much the only advent thing we're doing is reading The Jesus Storybook Bible in order every night.  If you read 1 story a night in December, it lines up perfectly to end with Jesus' birth on Christmas.

I felt bad about it for a little while, but then I got over it.  

I realized that a lot of the things we did last year were certainly fun, and we're still doing them.  But not many (if any) really had us eagerly anticipating celebrating the birth of Jesus.  They were pretty much just activities to help us enjoy the season.  

Which is good.  It's good to enjoy the season, but not by way of an angry mommy forcing her kids to do some random craft.

Sometimes I think that as mommies who love Jesus, we put this insane amount of pressure on ourselves to make everything meaningful and Gospel centered and if we don't, our kids won't have a Biblical worldview or won't want to follow Jesus or...all the bad things.  

But, we forget that we don't add meaning to Christmas.

We don't make Christmas Gospel centered.

It already is.

I'm not saying that we should be lazy and ignore teachable moments.

I'm not saying that we embrace materialism at Christmas.

I'm not saying that we promote Santa and forget Jesus.

(I don't really even like Santa that much and the girls found out about him from a cashier at Walmart!)

I am saying that we need to chill out.

Jesus doesn't want us to put the focus on Him with our self effort bathed in guilt and perfectionism.  

He's already the center and the meaning.  

We just need to slow down and ask Him to give us eyes to notice

For a really good perspective on traditions and "needing nothing," check out this great post by Kristi from and babies don't keep.  She gave me lots of good things to ponder!

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