Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Granola Christmas Traditions

I have a great book on incorporating traditions into your family holiday activities. The problem is that it is sitting by the Christmas tree unopened. I would imagine that it will remain that way indefinitely.

Though new ideas remain hidden, we do have a few traditions that occur each year.

As a general rule, I wait until the last bite of pumpkin pie has been eaten to blast some Gene Autry Christmas music. My sister dearly loves gets highly annoyed by this tradition which makes it all the more delightful to pursue. (Gotta love me, Sis!) However, due to feeling slightly melancholy this year, Christmas music has been playing in our household for 2 weeks.

We decorate our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving (or the next day that we are actually home from celebrating with family). Holiday music wafts through the air along with homemade hot chocolate. The Hottie Hubby makes the annual trek up the ladder to the attic, which is recounted blow-by-blow by Mr. Smackdown each year. He is so curious about this dark and unknown place that his daddy disappears into and emerges with a large tree. It is a little bit of Christmas magic.

This year the Hottie Hubby turned tree time into Tot School. I loved it! Can you guess what he did by the picture?

He had the boys separate the boughs by letter and asked for the letters accordingly. I had a proud wife moment with his ingenuity at using the common moment to explore a little bit of learning!

Two ornaments are required to hang from our tree. The first is a large nail. My dear friend, Christina, gave this nail to us our first year of marriage. Newly married herself, she had already realized the importance of establishing family traditions early on. The nail reminds us of the tree that was used at the death of our Savior. It is important to celebrate the birth of our Savior, but it is through his life and subsequent death on the cross that we have eternal Life with Him. This nail reminds us to keep Jesus the focus of the season.

We also allow a rather novel ornament on our tree called the pickle. This ugly but fragile ornament hides for the month of December. But on Christmas Day it is the object of much attention. Whoever finds the pickle receives an extra gift!

The rest of the ornaments are ones that my MIL gave the Hottie Hubby each year that he lived under her roof. My mom also jumped in on the tradition, and I have my own set of ornaments specific to my personality. We no longer receive ornaments but the tradition has been passed on to the boys who are given ornaments from their Mama and Nana. It won't take long before the tree is entirely the boys' ornaments. (Is there another word for ornament?) By the way, check out my bloggy friend's tree over at P.S. Love. Love. -- I have a bit of tree envy.

The Granola boys also have a tree in their room, that if they stay quiet for bedtime the tree is allowed to be their night light throughout their sleep cycle! This has only happened a handful of times, though. This tree is small and filled with miniature ornaments from the TV special, Rudolph.

Regarding gifts, the boys are given three gifts from the Hottie and I, to symbolize the three gifts the Wise Men gave to Jesus.

The Hottie and I often claim that we don't exchange gifts in order to keep Jesus the focal point of our celebrating, but this is a bit of a stretch. Each year we have a special Christmas date. We typically go out to dinner, see a movie, and visit Target. We stroll hand-in-hand around the store pointing out little trinkets that we would like to have. After setting a small budget, we separate for 15 minutes and sneak around the store, purposefully avoiding each other while we pick out items small enough to fit in our stockings.

We return home and sit back to back while we wrap our "surprise" gifts, stuff the stockings, and then take turns opening them. Yes, I know . . . we practice a bit of instant gratification. But it sure has been fun over the years!

We have a wood nativity set that is played with, run over by modern day Matchbox cars, and trampled by construction vehicles. Jesus remains hidden until Christmas Day. You can't have him born in November! For an additional twist, when the manger is set up, Mary and Joseph are not with it . . . they are walking and move closer to the manger each morning!

The culminating event for our family, though, is the baking of Jesus' birthday cake. We make an extra special cake, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning and . . . get this . . . we eat the cake for breakfast!

What are some fun things that you do to make your Christmas season more meaningful?

Maureen over at Spell Outloud has been sharing a bunch of great ideas. If you are stumped on how to make Christmas more meaningful . . . check out her blog!


Mozer said...

I love reading about your Christmas traditions! I really like the nail ornament idea. We have our special nativity ornaments, but I like how you explained the significance of the nail. I'll have to go make one for our tree.

Thanks for mentioning my blog!

Sarah said...

great post! I love all the traditions! I feel like I don't have it together enough to do any :-P

What's your book?! I'm guessing... Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper

Linda @ My Trendy Tykes said...

Oh wow! I loved reading about your traditions.

The pickle? LOVE IT!

Prasti said...

oh my gosh! we have a lot of similar traditions :) re: ornaments, we also have a nail and the pickle (this tradition is from my husband's side). the kids have also receive an ornament each year from their gram (husband's mom). re: gifts, we also do the 3 gifts for the kids to symbolize the 3 gifts Jesus rec'd. my SIL has always done the b-day cake for jesus and i love the idea. thanks for sharing your special family traditions.

this year we started doing a jesse tree to help all of us stay focused on why we celebrate christmas in the first place.

Susan said...

Love your traditions. We do some of the same as you. I give all of the children a new ornament each year and I place it at the dinner table on Christmas eve. They have to try to pick out whichone is theirs. We also read a book during advent. last year we read Jotham's journey and this Year we are reading Bartholomew's Passage. i do believ your boys would like these as they are very action packed.
hope you are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Cake for breakfast!! Sign me up! :)

Tamara said...

We have a pickle ornament too. Our family does an ornament exchange each year. We draw numbers and everyone picks from the pile or steals from somone who's already opened one. That's how I got the pickle.

Kari @ p.s. said...

You are so sweet! I keep looking at my tree like I need to do something else with it. Experience has taught me to just 'let it be' so I will.
Home made hot chocolate. Christmas tree lights as a night light! Ahhh, love the season!