Like most other families, our traditions are not the same as when we were first married. At that time we always went to visit parents and grandparents When the eldest generation became great grandparents we still went to them, until they all went to heaven. Then our parents began coming to our home for a Christmas vacation w/their grandchildren. Changes came about though the year my husband was hospitalized over Christmas. The staff there was great and they made the day as pleasant as possible under the circumstances.
The following year, and for about 6 more to follow, we went back to the hospital on Christmas day to sing carols for the staff. We invited 2 other families to join us so we had a few more voices, took plates of cookies and sang our way through the corridors of the little hospital. Since it is so small, less than 40 beds, we went to each dept:- admitting, emergency, med/surgical, the kitchen- and sang a few songs in each area. One year there was a new baby in the OB ward, too. The yearly trip was our way of returning the blessing to those who served us so faithfully.
One tradition that hasn't changed is caroling w/our church in mid-Dec. and also attending the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve. These are times of great joy for all who attend. Some of our college students look forward to the caroling so much that they do their best to arrange their schedules to arrive home in time to participate. If your church doesn't have these activities in place yet, there is still time to make plans for this year. The memories everyone will make are part of what will help to bind all those involved into a true church family.
Thanks for all the ideas we are able to share in this forum.
The Marshall Family
What a great idea to put together holiday family traditions for young families! So many of us are disconnected from our extended families and don't know where to start. Many of our traditions come from our church - like Christmas play or caroling with the youth group.
Our big family tradition is that we see family on Thanksgiving and stay home for Christmas! From the 1st year we had kids, I promised that home is where Christmas is so that the kids wouldn't be overwhelmed and we could focus on the real meaning of the season. But after Thanksgiving dinner, we always compete in a different twist on gingerbread houses. We make pretzel log cabins and tree houses. Only your imagination will limit you. Since pretzels come in all shapes and sizes anymore, we gather all month long and ask others to bring bags of uniquely shaped pretzels. We have even used dry cereal to add some decorations! Usually we use peanut butter for the glue but one year we had a relative attending that had a peanut allergy and we substituted mashed potatoes and cheese whiz. The little children to the grandparents have a blast with this and it brings everyone together, rather than the kids being excused and the adults sitting around chatting, with teenagers bored out of their minds. It's an intergenerational event that really works. After a day or two, we take them out to the woods to let the animals have their own feast. I would love to hear others' ideas.
Children and Youth Coordinator
Covenant Central Presbyterian Church
Tell the faith story! Make a Christ-Tree this Christmas.
Ginger Bread Stables
My tradition started about four years ago. We celebrate Christmas in our Sunday school. Luckily I have been directing our ministry since then so whether we are allowed to do it every year it has not been a problem. Every year, the Sunday before Christmas, we get all of our classes together and the kids make ginger bread stables. The kids decorate the stable with candy and candy animals. They spend all Sunday morning creating their stable. After they are done, they vote to see who is the prettiest of all. We give the child a present for using his/her imagination. Some classes participate in secrete Santa and we use the time to do that as well.
*If you are interested in learning more about our Sunday school traditions e-mail me at Ramirezedg@Yahoo.com
Started New Christmas Traditions
A few years ago we:
1) Began making ornaments for our tree (1 per night) on the first day of November. By the end of the month we have plenty to decorate our tree with.
2) We make a family advent calendar in which we do an activity together each evening in the days leading up to Christmas...it might be to watch a movie together, to deliver cookies to shut-ins, or to play a board game.
3) On Christmas Eve, we all get a new pair of PJs. The kids get excited about going to bed in something new on Christmas eve...plus as an added bonus, everyone looks their best in those early Christmas morning photos!
We have several traditions in our family...Not on purpose one year we decided to "fondue" on Christmas Eve before attending the Candlelight Service. The following year I asked everyone what they wanted to eat on Christmas Eve and the kids chimed in together "fondue" of course. My children are 24 and 30 and we still celebrate our fondue tradition. We have been blessed with a son-in-law and one granddaughter and another one on the way who are now a part of this tradition.
When our children were little I began purchasing a Christmas ornament (that related to some highlight in their life that year) each year for them to open when we decorated our Christmas tree. Even they are grown we continue this tradition. The love to look over the decorated tree each year and talk about old memories and their special ornaments. My daughter has begun this tradition with our granddaughter.
Each year, I purchase a new Christmas book (there are so many wonderful ones that tell the real meaning of Christmas) that is wrapped and put under the tree. Each book is dated and it's great fun to pull them out each year and display them in a basket to read and enjoy.
I am a game lover so I also purchase a new game each year, wrap it and put it under the tree to play on Christmas day.
We also have the tradition of new "jammies" each year.
Connecting Children & Families to Jesus,
Linda Annett, Minister of Children
Fellowship Reformed Church
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