Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I don't know about you but I LOVE TRADITIONS. 

I love the expectation of knowing what is to come....the anticipation of doing that "special thing" usually once a year.....the joy and comfort that comes with a well loved tradition.   On the flip side I hate that feeling of loss when a tradition goes to the wayside, especially one of those that was so well loved. 

As Micah and I began our family 16 years ago, I was very excited to establish our family traditions that would stay well loved for years and years.  What I have come to learn is that some of the things we have incorporated have stayed, and some of them have dropped off.  What I thought would be a set in stone one time decision, has changed and morphed into new things every year.  I love that some traditions have come from our childhood families, some have come from our early married days, and most have come after we had our beautiful children. 

I am constantly looking for new things to incorporate into our family holiday traditions.  I am going to share with you some of our favorite traditions for Christmas, and I would love it if you would in turn leave a comment listing some of your favorites. 


Micah and Emma snuggled and listening to the radio show "Cinnamon Bear."
THE CINNAMON BEAR - This is a tradition that we started 4 years ago.  Cinnamon Bear is an old time radio show from the 1930's.  Picture families of yesteryear sitting around an old Philco radio, using their imaginations as the stories came filtering through the home. That's pretty much what we do. This delightful story is about Judy and Jimmy Barton who go to the enchanted world of Maybeland to recover their missing Silver Star that belongs on their Christmas tree. Helping on the search is the Cinnamon Bear, a stuffed bear with shoe-button eyes and a green scarf. They meet other memorable characters during their quest, including the Crazy Quilt Dragon (who repeatedly tries to take the star for himself), the Wintergreen Witch, Fe Fo the Giant and Santa Claus.

Our kids LOVE this story.  We all look forward to sitting in the evenings and listening to the next episode.  A few years ago Micah found an old stuffed Cinnamon Bear that makes an appearance every December to join us in our listening adventures.  In the past we have printed off coloring pages that we found here. There are 26 episodes in all, and each only about 11 minutes long. A true delight that harkens back to days gone by. 

Christmas Prophecy boxes
PROPHECY BOXES - This is another tradition that started about 3 years ago.  I went to a craft store and purchased 25 of the small circle, oval, and square cardboard boxes.  Then we had a grand time of painting, adding ribbon, gems and fabric.  It took A LOT longer than I expected and I was so grateful Grandma happened to be visiting during this activity!   It has been worth every minute of crafting.  I then printed off 25 Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah and 25 of the corresponding New Testament fulfillments.  The OT verse is in green and the NT verse is in red.  Starting on December 1st we open one box at a mealtime and the helper of the day reads the verses and we discuss how that prophecy was fulfilled.  The first two years I included in each box a little piece of candy or a sticker or tattoo for each of the kids.  Since I have cut WAY back on sugary treats in our diets I decided to forgo this piece of the tradition.....happily no one has even asked about the lacking gift. 
Our advent calendar
ADVENT CALENDAR - This is new for 2012.  I found this idea on Pinterest and decided to make one for our family this year.  It is made out of felt and embellished with sequins, beads etc.  I am extremely pleased with how it turned out.  I no longer have to mess with the ones purchased in a store that always seemed to break after a couple of years.  

Advent wreath
ADVENT WREATH - This is a tradition that carried on from my (Johanna's) childhood.  I have fond memories of having an advent wreath each season.  I loved the expectation of lighting the candle and waiting expectantly for that white candle in the middle to be lit.....showing that Jesus had come as a babe.  Our kids look forward to each Sunday leading up to Christmas.  I love that they are now waiting expectantly for the coming of Jesus. 

Ornament boxes
ORNAMENT BOXES - This tradition came out of PURE FRUSTRATION!  About 3 years ago I was so irritated with "decorating the tree".  As children were added to our family, the tree time became more and more out of control.  I I was constantly having to keep kids from snatching ornaments out of the container and everyone competing for this ornament or that.  So, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought each child a box to keep their ornaments safe and sound.  We give each of the kids a new ornament every year, I place their name and date on the bottom and this is added to their collection.  I also went through all of my childhood ornaments and gave each child some so the "littles" had a comparable amount to the older children.  Now, each year everyone has their own box to open and re-discover the treasures.  It makes for a peaceful decorating of the tree, a happy mommy and a keepsake box the kids can take with them when they leave our home.  Win-Win for everyone.  


Some of our other favorite traditions for this time of the year are decorating cookies, family bake night, Christmas Eve service, new pj's on Christmas Eve, a white elephant exchange of something we no longer want, and eating boiled shrimp on Christmas Eve night. 

We are implementing some new traditions this year.  On Christmas Eve one child each year will put baby Jesus in the manger that has sat empty for the month.  One more way to anticipate the coming of the Babe.  On Christmas night we will follow the candlelight to our outside wooden nativity and sing hymns of praise, reflection, and celebration. 

I am sure there are more traditions that I am forgetting but these are the ones that floated to the top of my memory banks.  What are some of your favorites? 


  1. Great list, Johanna! I really wanna get an advent candle/wreath. This year JI has enjoyed lighting a white tapered candle a friend sends every year (that has 25 numbers down the side....like this one: http://www.bronners.com/product/nativity-advent-candle.do )

  2. I am a traditions nut as well. Some things we have done are obviously to impact the spiritual aspect, some are to encourage giving and blessing others, and some are just for fun. the just for fun include Gingerbread houses, kids knowing they can not get out of bed Christmas morning til they smell the cinnamon rolls....for giving and blessing we bake and deliver cookies to people including elderly and those in need...we used the prophecy envelopes Family Life did and when kids were younger we did an advent tree with verses and felt ornaments...advent wreath too. thanks for sharing.

  3. We do an Advent Calendar just like my family (Andrea) did... It’s my favorite family memory! I make a calendar each year out of poster board, covered with colored tags. We do a family activity each night leading up to Christmas Day. Our kids LOVE taking turns opening each day’s tag to see what the activity is... sometimes it’s the typical “Christmas Dinner at Church” or “Daddy’s Birthday” which is on the 23rd, but they love the surprise of “Ice Cream Sundae Night”, “Red Night” - we wear red, eat red & watch “Rudolph”, “Ornament Hunt”, “Treasure Hunt” for a special movie, and “seeing Christmas Lights in our pjs w/hot chocolate from Starbucks” :)

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this! I always want to know what traditions people do! Years ago, I picked up a cardboard heart shaped box (you can find them on clearance after Valentine's Day). I decorate it, either with fabric, ribbons, or spray paint and put a tag on top that says "To: Jesus". We put this gift under our tree - it has a saying glued to bottom of the inside about it being His birthday and what gift could we give to Him? Then, each of our family adds a slip of paper folded up that we have written what we will give to Him that year. We put our names and the year on the outside of the folded paper. It's fun to look at the year before, and see how we did with it. I hope it makes the kids think what we can give to Him- such as devotion time, more prayer, patience, forgiveness, a clean mouth, a bad habit, etc. I like to pick up these boxes cheap in February and make them as little gifts to give to other families of young children. I would like some new traditions to implement with teenagers if anyone has any ideas?!!