Materialism is why I dread Christmas. But there are plenty of reasons I love this time of year... the traditions, the nostalgia, the glow of white Christmas lights in my living room, the smell of pine needles, the crackle of the fireplace. And some other favorites...
favorite morning ritual: Eggnog instead of creamer in my coffee.
favorite holiday grocery item: Fondue (we buy pre-boxed at Nob Hill) - great for a festive dinner in minutes when you cut up a loaf of bread and an apple for dipping. Yum!
favorite baked good: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. The Pioneer Woman really rocks these. Just when I was starting to lose the baby weight, I had to go and make some of these. Oh well. What crazy person tries to lose weight around the holidays anyway?
favorite family outing: Cutting down the Christmas tree, of course! We didn't cut it down this year, due to tricky nap schedules. But we did make a special family outing and chose our together at a great little locally-owned and family-operated farm. We tried a new variety (a Grand Fir) and it is one of the best trees we've had.
favorite activity with kids: Decorating the Christmas tree. Last year I hung all of the breakable ornaments at the top, and when our tree fell over in the middle of the night (huge crash, Christian thought we were being robbed, but no, it was just the tree on the ground) we lost the majority of our glass ornaments. They were missed when I opened up the ornament box last week, but our tree is officially kid-friendly. Hanging the ornaments was right up Annike's alley this year. She had an incredible attention span for getting those tiny loops around the branches. I had to redistribute when she wasn't looking.
favorite advent activity: The Christmas story told in 24 parts. We are loving this advent calendar, new this year from Oma, which tells the story of Mary and Baby Jesus in 24 tiny little doors. In past years we have used the chocolate advent calendars, which are unquestionably meaningless. Advent is more than simply counting down the days until Christmas, it is engaging in active preparation to celebrate the arrival of our Savior.
favorite secular christmas song: Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is You". Yes, that is embarrassing to admit. It takes me back to my college days (when that was everyone's favorite song.)
favorite spiritual christmas song: "Oh Holy Night". I almost can't hear it without tearing up.
favorite christmas book: What Child is This? by Caroline B. Cooney. An easy one-day read. This tiny book is about a foster child who makes her angel-tree wish for a family instead of something material like a pair of shoes. I cry for the final half of the book. It makes me want to adopt children.
favorite scripture passage: Isaiah 9:6-7 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end..."
favorite old holiday tradition: Listening to my dad read one of his favorite short stories to us: "A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote. He can't get through it without tearing up. It isn't the story that I love; it is listening to the way the story moves my father that touches me. Along with some humorous characterizations, the story captures the true essence of relationships at Christmas, and the beauty in a holiday tradition. It almost makes fruitcake sound like a good idea.
favorite new holiday tradition: Anonymous giving. I wrote about one of our favorite family traditions in my blog post last year, here. We did not get on the ball to adopt a family this year (that seems to be a theme for my life this fall... not being on top of things), but the act of giving, especially anonymously, is surely the action I think the most about upon exiting December. As a young family we are still in the stage of creating traditions. I pray that my me-centered-children learn to derive more joy from the act of sharing our abundance with others than they do from receiving gifts. Pretty sure they are not there yet. Hopefully with consistency and a lot of emphasis on what is truly important, they too, will grow to love the giving opportunities this season provides.
I feel better already, just focusing on the reasons to adore this month of Christmas. I just might decide to forego the rest of my shopping (and stress) and enjoy some more meaningful traditions instead.
I linked up with Not My Own to share about intentional family traditions at Christmas