Many people ask me what we do for Christmas and how we keep the family feeling united during all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. One of those ways is traditions. I am excited to have an article for you about some of the Peck family's favorite traditions.
Family traditions are so important for fostering love and unity at home. The Christmas holidays give us great family activities to anticpate, and offer us more reasons to deliberately spend time together. These family gatherings and extra activities are the very magic of Christmas. Without them, the holidays would only be about symbols and comercialism, and not relationships. The holiday relationships with family and friends establish the lasting relationship with your favorite holidays for life.
Here Are Some Of Our Favorite Traditions:
*The Sunday before Christmas we go caroling to our neighbors. Sometimes the singing is more polished than others, but we don't care one way or the other, we love dropping in on our neighbors and giving an old fashioned kind of gift; connection and good cheer.
*On the night of December 23rd we lay under the Christmas tree and read as many Christmas stories as we can until we get sleepy. You know how you buy all those beautiful Christmas books throughout the years? Well, give yourself a reason to use them by making a special event the family will look forward to. It is also a perfect day to keep the family up late so that on Christmas Eve everyone is more tired. (wink)
*From December 12-December 24 we read a special collection of short stories. We read one each day as part of our family canon time. Some of the stories are: The Christmas Scout, Golden Shoes For Jesus, Aaron's Christmas Tree, and The Year Of The Flexible Flyers... (warning, these stories will make you cry)
*Little Jack Horner is a special Christmas game we play on Christmas Eve at our family party. After the meal, and acting out the nativity we all gather around a large wash tub covered in wrapping paper. Coming out of the paper are lots of strings. Each string has a name on it; one for each of us. After we have all found our strings we practice the old Mother Goose rhyme "Little Jack Horner." Once the practice run is completed we do it again for real. "Little Jack Horner, sat in a corner eating his Christmas pie. He stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, and said, 'what a good boy am I." When we say, "pulled out a plum" we all pull on our strings. At the end of each string is a small gift. These are our Christmas Eve gifts. One key thing here is it doesn't really matter what the gifts are, it's the process of pulling them out that makes it so fun and memorable. (This idea was made up by my grandfather, George Gundry)
*Christmas eve is also a time for sharing talents. Each child gets to share a talent at the family party. When I was a child my grandfather had us all do a talent before we could get a gift from whatever cousin had our name for Christmas that year. This made the gift giving part of the evening also the entertainment. It also makes the gift giving last longer. Note: this tradition will keep your children busy all day on Christmas Eve too. Then they have something constructive to prepare for while you are doing last minute preparations for the big day.
*We don't believe in making Christmas too extravagant so we limit our gifts to three. Each child gets three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold gift is something they want. The frankincense gift is something they need. And, the myrrh gift is a family gift. Besides these three gifts they get small things in their stockings. This is enough for our family. Anymore, and they just seem to get greedy and unappreciative.
*Presents for Jesus: Each year on Christmas Eve our family has a tradition to give Jesus presents. We all decide what we can do, or correct in our lives and dedicate the decision to Jesus for his birthday. We are going to have a special stocking, or wrapped box this year to start saving the letters in. I think it would be great fun to look at them when the children are grown. This is one of our favorites! It seems to put the holiday in better perspective too.
*Christmas morning breakfast on the fine china dishes. We have the same breakfast every year complete with a homemade cinnamon roll Christmas tree. It's the fancy dishes and goblets that make it so fun for the Children.
*This last one I am going to share is actually a New Year's Tradition. My mom and her friend made up when I was young. My mom always hid Christmas presents so well that some wouldn't be found for Christmas. They would turn up about a week later. So, to solve this present hiding problem, and make New Year's Day more fun this tradition was invented. On New Year's Eve, after my husband has played Auld Lang Syne on his trumpet for the neighborhood, and we have pounded what music we can out of our pots and pans we take our pots and put them under the Christmas tree. In the morning there is a New Year's gift to enjoy. My parents told me that Santa dropped one more off on his way back to the North Pole. (Whether you use this excuse or not, it makes New Year's day fun and keeps the children busy while the parents have a sleep in day.)
Our family has so many traditions I could go on and on, but I think this is an ample list. Maybe next year I will add to it.
Christmas time is a gift to all families. It is a time of forgiveness, love, and renewal of relationships. Allow your family to become closer this Christmas by making some new family traditions; what ever they might be.