Favorite Christmas traditions...

One of my favorite traditions of Christmas is to write our Christmas letter and find photos to put within it. I think this year I went a little overboard, as it takes a lot of ink to print them, but it's still fun to share. In doing so, I normally reflect back on the year and try to recall all we did. This year, the memories have been overshadowed by loss, but it is still good to remember. God sends many blessings with each new day. I was also thinking of the many traditions we hold close to heart. Some of them have stopped because kids grow up, like it or not, but I'll mention them anyway. I don't have pictures for all, but thought I'd post a few so you can get a glimpse of what our house looks like at Christmastime.

One of my favorite things is setting up the nativity on the mantle. Over the years the nativity has changed from an old mismatched set to the stone figures we enjoy now. When the boys were small, I took flannel graph figures and told the story of nativity as the days of December ticked by. The boys would add the pieces as they appeared, first the angel and Mary, then Joseph and the donkey ride to Bethlehem. The shepherds and the angels were followed by the wise men. A big board covered the unused fireplace in the middle of the family room where we could watch the story unfold.

Another tradition came in the form of advent calendars. Sometimes they were the cardboard kind with chocolate pieces behind each door. But for several years we used a calendar I made out of felt. In each felt pocket were three items and a verse for each day. Little treats for little boys.

Each Sunday we would light Advent candles and read part of the Christmas story, then sometimes we would make a craft, like paper snowflakes to hang from the kitchen light or wooden ornaments that they would color with markers. I still hang some of those on the tree.

The tree is one that has been in our family since my childhood. In all of the years we have shared our home with cats (over 30) we have never had a tree knocked over...that is until a few years ago. They would play with or hide in the branches as we put the tree together, but one year Shadow got a bit ambitious and knocked the whole thing over. (The above picture is our proof!) Fortunately, the ornaments all survived.

The stair decorations are a bit worse for wear as the cats find the garland and the bows fair game for chewing. And the little tree has been an object of much attention in years past, though this year perhaps the kitties are too old to care. They have matured to the ripe old ages of six and twelve, after all.

One of the best traditions that still remains is cookie baking. Randy took on this task/hobby many years ago and still makes the majority of our delectable treats today. Since this wife/mom is not complaining one bit, we are all happy to have his expertise and amazing talent at making the world's best Christmas cookies! (I dare say they will be my diet's downfall!)

So there you have it. My little trip down memory lane. Next week our boys will be home again, and though we will not be making paper snowflakes or coloring wooden ornaments, we will enjoy each moment God gives to love each other. Being together is one of life's greatest treasures.

Selah~

PersonalJill Eileen Smith