Traditions Make Christmas Memorable

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Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published December 2012

Christmas has become one of my favorite holidays. I love getting the decorations out and displaying a winter wonderland around the house. The tree comes out of the box, lights get strung and the decorations are hung with precise perfection. Presents get wrapped, Christmas music plays on the radio and the sweet aroma of candy and cookies fill the air—the same sweet smell that filled our kitchen when I was a kid.

Candlelight serviceGrowing up I remember mom and dad always in the kitchen cooking at Christmas. Dad would make fudge and candy and mom would make cookies and pies. There was nothing better than sitting on the washer watching them cook, just waiting for a taste! I anxiously awaited my turn to help ice the cookies or sneak of lick of fudge off the spatula. I keep those same traditions going in my home today.

Another favorite tradition I like to carry on is Christmas caroling.  Back in the day we took a hay ride through town stopping at houses and singing all our favorites; “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” “Away in a Manger” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas!” Even though we don’t go house to house by hay ride, we do visit a homebound member of our church and it’s still a blessing to me to stand at their front door and sing.

Christmas is a time of giving to others and our children—not a time of spoiling them. We have never been the type of family to go all out on buying Christmas presents for our kids. They always have Santa and stockings, and then they have three presents to open from us. Between that and grandparents, we feel that is plenty.  We have tried to raise our children so they know giving is better than receiving.  It’s easy to just buy and buy and buy, but we want them to know that Christmas is special. It’s really about the birth of Christ and that’s what we should celebrate.

Christmas stockingA tradition that was non-negotiable growing up was that we were never allowed to open a present before Christmas morning. My husband had the same. Therefore, we have kept that tradition, and it’s one Skylar isn’t a fan of. She doesn’t like it, but she respects it. Funny how as kids you think you will change the rules but when you’re a parent and the time comes you end up doing exactly what your parents did. And you realize it really wasn’t that bad after all. I look forward to the time when she has children of her own. I wonder if she will keep the tradition going, or will she give in?

Every year on Christmas Eve we attend candlelight service at our church. It is a wonderful time of worship. Although I grew up in church, this is something I don’t remember doing when I was a kid. But as an adult I absolutely love it. We get to hear some wonderful music, a short message and we take the Lord’s Supper as a family. It’s a time of quiet togetherness—something I usually need by then.

Over the past couple of years, Skylar and I have started a new tradition in our family. On Dec. 1, Skylar gets all her Christmas-themed books out and we begin to read one book each night before bed. She always gets a new book before Christmas to add to the collection, but the traditional Christmas Eve read is always, “T’was the Night Before Christmas!”  I love this time with her.

As I’m writing this, I decided to ask Skylar two questions. “What new tradition would you like to see implemented into Christmas this year and which old tradition would you like to exile?”  Her response was, “To make a pallet on the floor, everyone sit on it and open presents together on Christmas morning.” I asked her why.

She said, “Because everyone sits on the furniture, here and over there; if we’re all on the floor, we’re all together and not so spread out.”  I never really thought about that.

That is a good idea, but I realized the reason we sit on the furniture. I had to explain to her we might try it, but if I get on the floor and can’t get up she is going to have to help me up and we might have to have a different new tradition next year!  

Then, she answered the question on which tradition to exile. Of course it was the opening of presents only on Christmas morning. She suggested I start the new tradition of buying one extra present that is just for Christmas Eve. That way I wouldn’t be totally breaking the old tradition of waiting until Christmas morning! Gotta love the thought process of an 11-year-old at Christmas time!!

Well, now you know some of my family traditions for the Christmas Season. I hope that you make new memories this year with a few of your own traditions. But, no matter what you do this holiday season, remember Santa’s watching!
HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas!!

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