Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Tradition

Our Nativity Scene

As a child I was allowed to wake up whatever time I wanted on Christmas morning. My two sisters and I shared a room and around 3-4 a.m. one of us would wake up, get the other two up, and go wake up our parents. We would go downstairs and unwrap gifts. Usually by 7-8 we had played for a bit and fell back asleep in various locations in our home. I love that my parents didn't make us wait until a certain time to get up, or eat breakfast first or go to visit our grandparents right away. I truly appreciate a lot of the traditions that we had.

When us girls got older and cared more about clothes my parents would give us money. Then on the day after Christmas my mom would take us three girls and we would all go shopping anywhere we wanted to go. We would go out to lunch, and just enjoy girl time and spending our money. My mom always said it was easier than buying something then taking it back. I'm not sure if that's 100% true, but it definitely made for great memories.

Now that we have a little girl we are trying to figure out some things about Christmas and traditions. We really want it to be about Christ and not presents. We want Abigail to know that Christmas is when we celebrate Christ coming to earth to live among us. It is also a great time to look forward to when He will return to take us all home.

I decided to do some research about advent (the season before Christmas that marks the technical beginning of a new year in the Christian calender). While researching I learned some really fun things that I think we might try.

First of all we have decided not to do Santa clause. I know...gasp, shock, the horror. It was a personal decision we made. We are truly fine with other people teaching their kids about Santa. For this reason we don't want Abigail to be the one who tells all the other kids that he isn't real. So we have decided to celebrate St. Nicholas day on December 6. We will put something sweet in Abigail's stocking and talk about the man who was later fashioned into Santa clause. Hopefully as she gets older we can explain why some people tell their children about Santa and then she won't go around telling other children that they are wrong. :)

We have decided to not do presents on December 25th. We will celebrate the birth of Christ on this day. The twelve days of Christmas begin at sundown on Christmas Eve. The last day is January 6th. It is known as the day of epiphany. It is traditionally celebrated as the day the wise men arrived with the gifts for the King of Kings. So we will do gifts this day and do three gifts each since that is how many Jesus got. I also read that lots of households move their wise men closer to the nativity scene each day and then add them in on the day of epiphany. We will do this because it is fun and a good object lesson to help remember why we are doing this.

A couple of other days in December I think we will celebrate are St. Stephen day and The Day of the Innocent. St. Steven day is the 26th and it is the day that we recognize the first Christian martyr from the book of Acts in the Bible. We thought it would be a great time to introduce bigger world concepts and teach her about people in other parts of the world who are being martyred....and praying for them.

The day of the innocent is December 28th and it is the day we recognize all the boys under 2 that Herod killed when he was trying to kill baby Jesus. We also thought it would be a good day to introduce the idea of children around the world who are suffering, going without, and dying. It will also be a time where we will eventually introduce the idea of abortion to Abigail and how many innocent babies are being killed here and now.

Obviously some of these concepts are a few years down the road since she is only 15 months. But it is great to already be thinking through some of the things that we want to teach her someday. We have also decided to do advent at home. I bought a wreath and candles. The four Sundays before Christmas and then on Christmas day we will read different parts of the Christmas story from our Bible and Abigail's Jesus Storybook Bible. We will talk a little bit and pray.

We did our first candle this past Sunday. We read about the angel coming to Mary and telling her she was going to have a baby. We read Mary's song together from Luke. We sat by the figurines of Jesus, Joseph and Mary we have with the shepard and animals. I don't know how much actually sinks in to Abigail's little brain. However yesterday and today she has pointed to the candles and signed light. She also has pointed to the figurines and signed baby Jesus. So even if she doesn't get the full concept, she is understanding something.

It is exciting to see the Christmas story again for the first time; to be the one to share the magical story of a baby born 2000 years ago. Conceived by a virgin, born to suffer and die for our sins; conquering death and sin so that we could have eternal life. I like that we are introducing new traditions, but Christmas is magical in and of itself...if you believe.

Enjoying Christmas through the eyes of our child,

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