Well, it's that time of year again isn't it? I love, love, love Christmas and thought I'd share some of my favorite (and one not-so-favorite) Christmas traditions.
1) The Moore family "Christmas Candles." My very favorite part of Christmas is using the season and its sights and sounds to talk to my kids about Jesus, who he is and what he accomplished for us in his life, death, and resurrection. We've created a tradition at our house that is somewhat similar to advent candles. We have four candles that we light every night during the Christmas season and with each candle we say something we believe about Jesus, something the incarnation teaches us. Here's what we say with each candle: Jesus is the promised Messiah; Jesus is God's Son; Jesus is God with us; Jesus is the King of the world. Each night we read part of the Christmas story, go through each candle, talk briefly about what each statement means, say a prayer, and (the best part!) blow out the candles together! It's amazing how excited they are about this little tradition, and how much they (and we) learn!
2) Here's the not-so-favorite: Shopping. The truth is that I really don't like shopping anytime of the year. Not at all. I dread just going to the grocery store each week. But when you add the Christmas crowds and the traffic directors at the mall....it's just sensory overload for me. But what I LOVE is internet shopping and what I love even more is buying gifts that are unique and that I know make at least a small difference in the world. Here are some of my favorite places to shop. Go, check them out and make a purchase:
The Servlife Store is one of my favorites and has cool products made by entrepeneurs in Thailand, Cambodia, and Nepal.
The Heifer Project has a catalog of gifts you can buy in honor of a loved one that help end hunger and poverty. World Vision and Samaritan's Purse both have a similar catalog. And here's a great idea at The Seed Company called Gift- A- Verse cards: you can have a verse of Scripture translated in someone's honor!
3) Favorite tradition number 3 is the toy clean-out: Every year before Christmas, the kids and I go through their toys and pick about half that we can give away. Jacob likes to line up his hot wheels, count them, and then put half in the box for Mission Arlington. What I love is watching him carefully inspect each one and make sure no broken ones are sent to the Mission. Many times he'll pick a toy that I think is "too new" to give away, and I have to stop myself and let him be the generous boy that he is. I learn alot from that kid!
4) Russian Christmas traditions. With two kids adopted from Russia, we've declared ourselves to be a Russian-American family. I'm sure we don't follow the traditions exactly right, but we've tried to adopt some Russian Christmas customs. On Christmas Eve we have a big dinner with Russian elements: hay under the tabel to represent the poverty of the Holy family, bread to remind us Jesus is the bread of life, a single white candle to show Jesus is the light of the world, and traditional Russian Christmas blessings. We also get presents from Father Frost and the Snow Maiden on New Year's morning!
So there's some of our traditions; what are some of yours? And before I sign off, my favorite words from my favorite Christmas Carol (another great Christmas tradition!):
- Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
- Hail the Son of Righteousness!
- Light and life to all He brings
- Ris'n with healing in His wings
- Mild He lays His glory by
- Born that man no more may die
- Born to raise the sons of earth
- Born to give them second birth
- Hark! The herald angels sing
- "Glory to the newborn King!"