Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas time traditions

 Making cookies is one of our Christmas time traditions.  I love baking cookies and breads just like my mom.  My kids enjoy decorating the cookies or eating the sugar ;).
 I typically double any recipes because if you are going to go to all that work you want cookies for more than just one meal.  I think we may need a bigger mixer?
 What other traditions do we have?  Well we may not always be very traditional, but we have fun.  We start opening Christmas gifts after Thanksgiving and they are gifts aimed at needs or family together time.  So gifts that we all can use- books, balls, sports equipment, gaming system for everyone, board or card games, family movies, microscopes, things like that. 
 We put them in a huge Christmas bag that we got half off last year and hide the bag around the house.  We go from youngest to oldest picking harder places to hide it and let the kids go hunting. 
 We love looking at Christmas lights which usually entails some snacks to take in the car. 
Everyone gets to buy a new Christmas ornament at Hobby Lobby when they are half off.  Then we do a huge splurge and eat at Texas Roadhouse which is conveniently located next door.  It also happens to be my favorite restaurant. 
 We have a few manger scene sets- one which is strictly for play time.  The others right now only have the manger and animals set up.  Then on Christmas week we add Mary and Joseph.  Then baby Jesus arrives on the scene Christmas Day.  We read from the Bible for these and we enjoy letting the kiddos add the people. 
 The week of Christmas we have a "What Jesus Really Wants For Christmas" set.  Each day you open a "present" which is a different person in the manger scene and you read a fun poem and scripture.  It focuses on why they are in the story and the last person is YOU! 
 We have a cute advent wreath that is a sculpture of children from around the world.  It was a gift from a friend and we love it.  Some years we have done more traditional readings for advent and some years we are just go with the flow and focus on table talk.  Things that are happening with our family, things we love, and how we can encourage each other in our faith walk. 
 We love hanging out the stockings and adding a few fun decorations.  Better yet making some decorations too.  It is something that doesn't come naturally for me- so Pinterest is my best friend.  Typically Jason helps because I am severely craft deficient. 
 We have sometimes done a Bethlehem dinner- where you dress up in towels, robes, etc.  Jason and I become the "Inn Keepers" and we invite our kiddos to dinner.  We eat fruits, fish, flat bread and we talk about the story of Christ and how that looked at the time. 
 Some years we do more than others.  Some are more slim pickings kind of like last year- when we were still hoping to move.  Then we didn't and well you know having your hopes up only to have them let down again is hard work.  Sometimes you just survive. 
 Part of what I truly wanted to write to you today was about expectations.  Some people do Elf on the Shelf, some have scary nightmares about him.  Some talk about Santa and some call him Satan.  Some do Christmas crafts daily, read all the advent readings, and so on. 

But expectations for the meal on Christmas, expectations of family arriving, how it all should play out.  You know that dream of the perfect family and time together.  That is really hard to live up to. 
 Whether you "have a perfect Christmas" or do the traditions you think you should I encourage you to really make sure you are not so wrapped up in all of it that you miss having fun and enjoying the celebration of Jesus Coming!  Oh that sounds so cliche as if it were just a dream, but it isn't!  It is real.  Was Jesus born on Christmas - who cares!  It's not about the date- its' about making room in our lives FOR HIM! 

So whether you do lots of crazy, you shop on Black Friday, or have a million people over- don't let your expectations get in the way of HIM!  Set aside time for HIM.  Cut out some traditions that take time away from HIM.  Just have some simple conversations about HIM.  You don't have to be a great theologian (I am not), but I can read scripture and devotions.  I can relate to my family about the fact that I am passionate about serving and loving Jesus. 

Traditions are fun- when they are fun.  When they become work- set them aside and focus.  ON HIM!
Speaking of Christmas miracles??  Does he look amazing on this bike?  OH MY!!!  I am in awe of him daily.  He inspires me in a way that no one else can.  I love that the Lord planted him in our family even when we felt totally inadequate and do most days.  We are working on getting him this bike.....either through fundraising or through grants.  I can't wait- because HE ROCKS IT!!!


****If you are a reader who loves to hear all about adoption and what we do with Christian Adoption Consultants - please check out our new professional website/blog at adoptionshapedheart.com I have posted some of our clients stories over there and some other posts about adoption.  :)     

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