OK, nothing like me giving you Christmas tradition ideas two days before . . . but that is so like me! The first thing I have done would be helpful in this instance-I have a family notebook with sections for holidays, Christmas plans, chores, etc. (I'll try to pull it out later and write more on it.) Every year I add pages to the Christmas section and make notes on our plans. I keep our menus here (Tree decorating night, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day), our baking list, a list of activities that we just have to do to feel like it is Christmas (I ask each kid for one request around Thanksgiving, and add a few of my own), and any other important information.
This year some of our favorite things to do have included:
As early before Christmas as I can manage to remember we make a chain of green and red construction paper. Every day, we rip off one link and count the days until Christmas. This was a Newman tradition. The boys really love to watch the chain grow shorter and shorter, and I love not having to answer 25 times "How many more days?"
And the messier the better. This year everybody started out helping, but Stephen was the only one to stick with it. He helped me make the best peanut butter balls!
Drive and Spy They really love to go out and look at lights. We are planning on doing this tomorrow.
A Bethlehem Visit One of the churches about an hour away does a phenomenal recreation of Bethlehem at the time Jesus was born. Stephen really loves this, although we had to skip it this year. We were just getting over colds and had the first cold snap of the year, and I wanted everyone well for Christmas!
Angel Tree The kids amazed me this year when they initiated finding a kid to buy a present for this year. I'm glad they are learning that this is important.
Play Day If we are able with the visitation schedule for the kids, we reserve the day after Christmas Day as Play Day. Nothing gets put away before Play Day. We begin the day playing with our new stuff, and we do it all day, watching movies, playing games, whatever! We throw mattresses and sleeping bags on the floor and play until we fall asleep. The boys really love this day!
A new tradition I am trying to establish is to find someone to invite for Christmas Eve or Day, someone with no family or who doesn't have thier kids for the day. I have learned it is so hard to be alone, and you would be surprised the people who really do feel they are all alone as the Christmas decorations come out. Last year I invited a single parent whose kids were with the other parent. This year I invited a widow. In both cases they ended up at the last minute making other plans, but I still want to keep my heart tender to this need. There are few times more distressing for an orphan or a widow than at the holidays. (See James 1:27-this verse just resonates in my head now).
What are some of your traditons? Please post them so we have more ideas to chose from!