Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the 2 best traditions

I am all about traditions when it comes to Christmastime. I fondly recall those traditions I shared with my parents and brother during the holidays. I think it is so important to have some lasting, meaningful moments that happen EVERY year in my own home; I want my girls to have things that they look forward to every December. Our traditions bind us together; because of them, we feel even more like a family than we already know we are.

A few of our traditions each year...
* Decorating the Christmas trees together
* A visit to Santa Claus
* Christmas Eve communion service
* Getting out my nutcracker collection
* Baking Christmas cookies together
* A drive through town to look at Christmas lights
* "It's a Wonderful Life" viewing as a family
* New pajamas
* Reading the Christmas story before presents are opened

And I want to start these few new traditions this year...

* Making a gingerbread house
* Having a Christmas girls night out

But there are two Christmas traditions that are most special to me. We do these every year and have done them as long as I can remember. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without them. They make my Christmas more warm and cozy and...meaningful!

Thought I'd share them with you and challenge you (on this Random Tuesday!) to share a holiday tradition with me and the rest of us here!

The first is our Family Advent Celebration. Advent (which literally means "anticipation") starts on the first Sunday of December and continues throughout the month. We celebrate it with our special Advent candle wreath which includes four purple candles (for each of the Sundays in December) and a white "Christ candle" in the middle (which is lit on Christmas Eve). Every Sunday evening during the month, we gather as a family and light the appropriate candles; then we talk about some spiritual aspect of the holiday. We usually focus on one word a week--this year we have talked about the "anticipation of Christ" and this past Sunday we talked about "peace" and how we should experience it during the holidays and all year round. We divide up the different "duties" each week; the girls light different candles, McKenna and Delaney will read a Bible passage or a poem; Sydney will help us sing a Christmas song; Gary will say a prayer. Sure, sometimes it gets rambunctious and we may argue over whose turn it is to light which candle, but it is truly the best way we have discovered to keep the "true" meaning of the season intact. We can stop--even if it's just for thirty minutes--and consider how Christmas isn't just about getting that big gift we want; but it's about the reason we even gifts to begin with. It's about love and joy and peace and serving others and celebrating Jesus' birth.

The second tradition is the Late-Night Christmas Eve Gift Unwrapping with just me and Gary. A long time ago Gary and I realized that, yes, Christmas is all about children and we treasure the moments when the girls get to unwrap their gifts or get to see their gifts from Santa for the first time. But...we also realized that we needed some "us" time during this busy, busy time of year. So, after we have returned home from Gary's parents on Christmas Eve and we have the girls home and asleep in bed (yes, it can be kinda late sometimes! lol), Gary and I light a fire in the fireplace, open a bottle of wine we have bought special for the occasion, and open our gifts to each other. Gary and I give ourselves a budget that we get to spend on each other and we just love to go out and try and find the perfect gifts for each other. On Christmas Eve, we take turns unwrapping gifts (we usually try and outdo each other; I always try and have ONE more gift for him than he does for me!), give each other a kiss for each gift, drink a sip of wine, and repeat! It is one of the most special times of the season and makes us both so appreciative of each other.

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without either of these traditions. They truly make the season complete!

So...do you have any special Christmas traditions that you celebrate with your sweetie, or your friends, or your family? I would LOVE to hear about them!!

(And thought I'd close with a picture I took just last night. I just love it! It's llooking from my downstairs green tree up to my white one)...


Ms.L said...

I LOVE your couple tradition. I think it's perfect:)

We like to look through all our photo albums and,walk down memory lane together as a family.

I think I need a coloured tree now.
Your's is stunning..

Ms.L said...

Hahaha,I guess white isn't really a colour,is it?? You know what I mean;)lol

Nina Diane said...

we're like that too Cheryl with our family traditions. My kids are all grown now but still love all the little things we do as a family. Johnny and I are taking all of them to see Trans Siberian Orchestra this year so we're hoping to start a new tradition!

Renee said...

I love the idea of 2 trees, of course, I don't even have my ONE tree up yet. Slacker.
And I also like the idea of the couple gift-unwrapping. maybe we should start doing that too.

patti_cake said...

I just LOVE all of your traditions but I especially love the one you and Gary have. Y'all are so sweet.

Cheryl Wray said...

Ms L-- I think that's a wonderful tradition (looking through all the old photos and albums). Love that idea!!

Ms. L 2--Ha ha!!! i knew what you meant!

Nina--Ooh, yay!!! Gary suprised me yesterday with tickets to the TSO. It's a New Year's Eve performance here!!!! I can't wait!

Renee--Get to work on that tree!! LOL

Patti--We really do treasure that time! We don't get near enough couple time as we need!

Dawn Bibbs said...

Oh my goodness, I think the tradition that you and Gary have together is gonna make me CRY!!! That is SO sweet!

Sadly, my husband is not much of a gift giver (for any ocassion). And therefore, doesn't accept them very well when I get him something. Actually, he doesn't think we should spend money on eachother, and that makes me sad. Ok, I'm not gonna get into this right now, because every year, I SAY that I'm ok with it...but I'm really not. I even have to decorate by myself :-(.

ALRIGHTY...back to these traditions. Well, we don't really have those either. Other than hubby and I shopping for the kids on our anniversary (which is a week before Christmas). But I do really enjoy that time with him.

Great post, Cheryl. You (and your family) inspire me. Love ya!

Just Me Again said...

I love seeing the list of all your x-mas traditions! I think I'll make one as well and share in my blog this week! :)

Susie Q said...

I love your traditions and share most of them. OOh and I love your white tree! I think I will have to get one for next year! It would look just perfect in my dining room...of course my DR is not big so it can't be too big of a tree but hey! It would be so purty!
We also love to look at old videos and pictures and we will eat lasagna on Christmas Eve before church.
Grace is very big on tradition and I am so glad. : )

Hugs and love,

Jenster said...

I love your traditions. Especially the one with just you and Gary. That's awesome and one I may have to steal!

The picture is beautiful. :o)

Adrienne said...

Tony and I do the same thing as far as opening our gifts on Christmas Eve. There isn't a moment to breathe on Christmas day for us lol. We are also doing a ginger bread house this year!! The kids are VERY anxious to do it lol

Josie said...

I love the christmas eve tradition with Gary..hopefully when I find that someone its one I can start.

I love our christmas traditions, they truly do make each season special. It made me smile to see these 2 are on your to do list because they are my favorites; gingerbread houses, our girls night out...just walking, seeing the sights, sipping hot drinks laughing talking..its much needed.

Cheryl Wray said...

Dawn--I know it is hard when you both want different things and I know that it would upset me at Christmastime if I didn't have Gary to share these traditions with me. But every couple is different, and I think we need to avoid comparing ourselves to others. Your husband has other things that make him special for you! And, besides, men are pretty impossible to change aren't they? LOL

Maria--Oh yes, please share your traditions on your blog. I will look forward to reading it!

Susie Q--I LOVE my white tree. It just seemed like such a fun, retro thing to do this year and I'm so glad I did!!

Jenster--Steal away! It is such a great way to have some "alone" time during this busy season!

Adrienne--I can't wait to hear about your gingerbread house. Are you baking it, or using a kit, or what?

Josie--Yay for girls night out! I am trying to organize one right now!!

Cheryl Wray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gin said...

I love your traditions!!

Memphis Steve said...

Oh my God, I thought your upstairs was on fire! When I first looked at the photo, I swear that's what it looked like.