So today I'd like to write about Christmas at our house. I'll start with a tradition that we stole from an online friend.
Our nativity. It's this one, Schleich Nativity. I chose this one because they also sell individual animals to match. Each year, we select an animal from the World Vision gift catalog and we make that donation. Then we buy the same animal for our nativity set. We can look at our nativity and know we helped families around the world by giving a donkey, a sheep, and chickens. It's still a relatively new tradition for us, but I anticipate someday we'll have quite the farm represented. (Fortunately there are sheep figures in different poses!)
Our front room tree. The kids and I finished it this morning, while listening to Christmas music.
Everything from Alvin & The Chipmunks to Amy Grant.
It's such fun to see the ornaments, like this one Hannah made at preschool last year.
Each child has a shoebox for their own special ornaments.
We often make ornaments together as a family craft at some point during the season.
Picture ornaments are my favorite.
Even moreso when the pictures are hilarious.
This morning, I got to tell Hannah, "Look! When Zachary was in kindergarten just like you, he made this ornament for me!"
After the ornaments, we made our annual "pretzel thingies."
Everybody loves pretzel thingies!
Take square pretzels, top with kisses or Rolos,
bake at 200* for a few minutes to soften the chocolate,
Then, while they're still hot, top the kisses with an M&M, and kinda squish them down a bit.
Top the Rolos with a pecan half and squash those down, too.
Chill to set the chocolate.
These are wicked tasty. Consider yourself warned.
What other things make our Christmas ours? Some years we do a Jesse Tree. I participated in an ornament swap for this years ago, so we have lovely handmade ornaments for ours. What's a Jesse Tree? Each day, you read a devotional together and then put up that day's ornament. This year, the little tree we usually use for this has become our Around The World Tree instead. Which is a little weird. We've never had a homeschool Christmas tree before, but I like it.
We use mostly cloth gift bags for our Christmas wrap. Back when I was obsessed with sewing instead of adoption (I can only really obsess about one thing at a time, lol!) I made a BUNCH of gift bags of various sizes out of Christmas fabric. This was during the Lego Era, so some of them had to be pretty big to fit those impressive Lego boxes. We've been using them ever since. I go through less than 1 roll of Christmas wrapping paper per year. In fact, I bought a roll from my baby sister's school fundraiser a couple years back... and I haven't even opened it yet.
If you're thinking, "Oh, wow, that would save a lot of money, I should do that too, but fabric is so expensive," wait until after Christmas. Go to JoAnn's when all the Christmas prints are 75% off in January, and buy up a bunch then. That way, you'll be all set for next year! Oh, and I find that if you add a folded ribbon (twill tape or bias tape will even work in a pinch) to one of the seams, a few inches down from the top, it makes a perfect tie.
While we're on the subject of GIFTS, everyone gets 3. Baby Jesus was given gifts from the wise men. He received gold, frankincense, and myrrh. If 3 gifts was good enough for God incarnate, it's good enough for us, right?
However, even though we don't do Santa, we DO do STOCKINGS! Stockings are just fun! Christmas morning, I get up and throw cinnamon rolls in the oven. Then we pass out stockings. Once everyone has had a chance to open their stockings, we all breakfast on cinnamon rolls and orange juice.
Christmas is such a family oriented holiday that we often don't see exactly how other families celebrate. In fact, newlyweds are often surprised to discover that their beloved does/doesn't do some things that they assumed everyone did. I love hearing about family traditions, whether holiday related or not. It's always fun to get new ideas for things to do (whether once, or over and over) with our own family. As moms, we are often the ones in chage of creating or maintaing traditions. It's an awesome responsibility.