1. Christmas Cards. I love to send them. I love to receive them. I like to write letters anytime of the year but people don't usually write back. Oh, but December! December is different. Everyday from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve there's guaranteed to be an actual letter in the mailbox and we can usually count on some great photos, too. And this odd little fascination must be contagious. I truly don't know who gets more excited about Christmas cards. Me or the children. We display them through the month of December. About ten years ago we started the tradition of taking one card a day starting in January and praying for the sender. We then write them and let them know we did so and let them know what we prayed for.
4. Ornaments. Each year from their birth we add a new ornament for each child to our tree. When they marry they will have a collection of memories to start their own Christmas traditions. Some years we make them. Some years we buy them at the Hallmark store. Some years we choose them while traveling. Each and every one has a special memory. There is literally no branch uncovered on our tree. The tree tells a story of our family. One for the year we first celebrated Christmas as a couple. One for the year we were married. One for the birth of each of our children. Our first home. Our baby in heaven. Special ornaments from trips to the beach, traveling abroad, Disney World. There are even a few from when Allen and I were kids. My children love to hear the story of how I picked at the corner of a tiny present to see what was inside... only to be disappointed when I realized it was just a piece of Styrofoam Many loved ones add ornaments to our tree now. Opening the boxes each year is like turning the pages of our scrapbooks as we remember the places and people represented in each trinket. The younger kids love to hear the stories of how each ornament came to be on our tree.
5. Music. I talked about this a bit already in another post. But what I didn't mention was how much I enjoy it when sometime around October the regular piano books are switched out for Christmas books. It is common for us to spend some time in the evenings sitting at the piano while the girls take turns playing for us as we sing some of our favorite carols. We also try to find an opportunity to go caroling each Christmas. One year the girls organized a caroling party with the young ladies from church. That was so much fun.
9. The Creche. We have a number of manger scenes. There is a fine porcelain one with gemstones, a carved wooden one and even a little people one the kids love to play with. This year Allen and the boys made a ceramic one into a beautiful advent wreath using a piece of wood from one of our lost trees as the base. The boys built a manger to go in the center out of sticks they gathered from the yard. Each night we follow my mother's tradition of preparing it for baby Jesus by adding a piece of straw for each act of serving or kindness we witness in another family member.
10. Advent Calendars. This tradition started on Kaitlin's first Christmas and is something the kids look forward to every night of December. Except that we usually get behind because they like to do it together. Some nights Allen and I aren't home at bedtime because of our weekly date and our Monday night classes. Our last day usually comes somewhere around New Year's Eve.
Do tell me. What do you LOVE about the Christmas season?