Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Traditions on The Ranch

I have been meaning to write several posts in the past few weeks, and those weeks FLEW by.  I cannot believe that we are only days away from Christmas! 

Now that the boys are getting a bit older and wiser, and because we were home for the holidays this year without any travel plans, I really focused this year on making sure we were creating some holiday traditions that would grow in our little family to be well remembered and cherished as the years pass.  Cory and I are very conscious of creating our family "identity" these days and there is no better time than at the holidays when he is not traveling as much and everyone is in a pretty joyful mood to capture that spirit.

When I was growing up we had an advent calendar.  It was a square piece of felt with a simple felt Christmas Tree and 25 pockets across the bottom.  Each year Mom hung it in the kitchen and filled the pockets with the 25 little ornaments that had velcro on the back and each day leading up to Christmas we took turns picking out of the pocket (you never knew which one you'd get!) and attaching them to the tree.  The last one though was always the same, Baby Jesus in the walnut shell.  Last year my mother sent us a wall advent calendar.  No tree, but 25 pockets to fill.  I wish I had thought of  just putting 25 ornaments and letting the boys put them on the tree, but I wasn't that brilliant so early in the year.  Instead we have our own elf, well one that actually requires some imagination as ours is too shy to actually see (that Elf on the Shelf guy kind of freaks me out!).  Our elf comes each night when we are sleeping and tucks away a new treat for that day.  This year we've had the usual chocolate kisses, chocolate gold coins, PEZ, and even some of the cereal that the reindeer (Corn Pops) and elves (Lucky Charms) eat.  Let me tell you, the prospect of a chocolate candy at 6am on a school day really jolts my kids out of bed.  We've never been out of the house faster all year long! 

The real fun of it though is their imaginations coming out.  Jack regularly goes to the fireplace (that's where the elf comes into the house, just like Santa) and tells the elf thank you, and occaissionally gives him suggestions on what might be a good treat for the next day.  And on a few occaissions when he hasn't particularly liked what the elf brought on a particular day, it's served as a learning lesson of how to be appreciative to receive something at all.  We even had a morning that the elf "forgot!" - the stinker was at a Christmas party the night before and was headed to our house very late (or early) the next day and since Mommy and Daddy were already up and having breakfast he didn't want to come in since he's so shy.  So Mommy told everyone to go back up to their room with Daddy while she turned off all the lights and put the dogs in the garage for 5 minutes while he snuck in.  WHEW!  That is one smart elf! 

I'm really excited for Saturday however, because we've been talking and looking at our nativity quite a bit and why there is a crib with no baby in it.  Pocket #25 will hold our Baby Jesus for the boys to lay in the manger.

And speaking of the true meaning of Christmas, we have been talking non stop about Christmas being the celebration of Jesus' birthday and that all the excitement is really for that big event.  A wonderful friend of mine from church, Mallory Carrington (who's dad was a former Packer by the way), gave me a fabulous way to tie in Santa's gift and Jesus' Birthday.  Each child receives 3 gifts from Santa, just as Jesus received 3 gifts from the wisemen.  I know some people don't participate in the Santa tradition at all as the topic was recently very eloquently discussed by one of my favorite bloggers Mom-101, but for us, we enjoy watching the kids believe in something they can't see just for the innocence and hope it creates in their heart.  Isn't that the basis for faith?  And I believe that someday as long as we continue to do our daily devotions and create a heart for Christ in our kids, they will not be confused but understand that there shouldn't be separation between the life they live between Sundays.

We've been doing all the other fun stuff, singing Christmas carols in the car - I LOVE my children for liking the Rat Pack over the regular versions, spotting Santa all over town (Duke is not so big a fan this year), the Polar Express train, ABC Family Christmas specials and even a great new one sent in by Grandma - a Christmas countdown!  They sent one home the first of the month from school, a picture of Santa Claus with the instructions to paste a cotton ball to his beard for each day to count down to Christmas.  The boys liked what Grandma sent to them better...and they don't look nearly as pretty four days before Christmas.

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