Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas. I love it even more as a parent of two precious children. The look on their faces when they open their gifts, or when they eat cookies with hot cocoa, just warms my heart. Those moments remind me of an innocence that I wish to treasure and preserve forever. And while I have them here with me, still young and wide-eyed (let’s face it, these moments will pass us by with the blink of an eye), I  want to fill their Christmas memories with wonderful traditions in our home.

Growing up, I remember our Christmas traditions. We would stay awake on Christmas Eve, waiting for midnight to arrive, in order to exchange gifts. Christmas morning, my mom would make a large breakfast or brunch and we would all go to the movies as a family. When my brother and I moved out of my mom’s and to our own homes, we continued this tradition. We would go to my mother’s for Christmas Eve dinner and wait until midnight to open the presents. The next day, we continued the tradition of brunch and the movies.

Not all traditions can remain. Sometimes, we have to alter and shift things around when pieces of our life stories change. Moving away from my older brother changed those traditions. And although my mother and younger brother live in the same state as me now, we do not live in the same city.

However, new traditions have arisen in our home. We decided to buy an ornament representing our year every Christmas season, which began on the first Christmas after we moved to Florida. The fish symbol (representing Jesus) we purchased that year is one of my favorite ornaments, yet; because it was and is a reminder that God continues to ordain our steps in His favor and in ours, even when we have no idea where we are going.

Other traditions in our home include Christmas Eve gifts. Every year, I buy new PJ sets and either slippers or another item for their gifts. They open these gifts the day before Christmas and can wear them for the evening. Last year, we began a new tradition. My son had reached his toddler years and I knew he would be able to partake and enjoy this one: we either make our own pizzas or order it. We also bake cookies, drink hot cocoa and watch a movie with the kiddos. They love it! It is like a slumber party with the family!

One of the important lessons I want to instill in my children is the act of giving and the value of humility. As a result, there are a couple of things we do regarding gifts. One of them (I’m sure you’ve heard of this) has to do with how many gifts each child receives. A couple of years ago, I read somewhere about “A Want, A Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read” gift idea. I absolutely loved it – four gifts per child, all with purpose! The first year we did this, I prepared my daughter for it, as she was still learning about the significance of Christmas. Now, she already knows what to expect, and in turn, we help teach our children about gratitude and not enable them towards materialism.

I cannot remember where I found this other great idea and tradition from (I’m sure it was someone’s Facebook post or Pinterest); however, this idea is a winner for our home. Giving is HUGE for me; whether it is opening my home and feeding a family or providing for someone in need. And because this is so important for us, we want our children to be on the same page. So, we started this new tradition this year: Take the kiddos to the local Dollar Tree and have them pick out Christmas gifts for the family. This idea is two-fold:

1.) You teach your children to focus their attention on giving and not just on receiving

2.) You don’t break the wallet when teaching this important character-molding lesson.

When I took my daughter to the store to buy her father and brother a Christmas gift, it was heartwarming to see how much thought she put into their gifts. I was one proud mama! I cannot wait to see how my toddler son will embrace this for next Christmas!

This year, we are altering our traditions a bit. With the recent passing of my aunt, the need for family comfort is strong. Therefore, we are pushing our pizza/cookie tradition for the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and we are traveling to my grandmother’s for some sleepover fun. I’m really looking forward to it, as I don’t have memories of this due to growing up away from the family. And being around family this year just continues to keep the meaning of Christmas at the forefront of our minds: Jesus Christ. His birth is what paved the way for our eternal lives. As a result, death is merely a pause in Christ. I’m forever grateful for this ultimate gift!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 (NIV)

Amy Velazquez
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