It's nearly Christmas! The most magical and wonderful time of the year has arrived and the prospect of God incarnate hangs in the air! Carols are being sung, lights are being strung, and the world feels at least a little bit merrier. Though 2020 has been somewhat of a dud, the promise of our Savior King cannot be dimmed by this year's dreary tune. Today, I wanted to share a list of a few of my favorite family Christmas traditions as we roll on into the jolliest season of all!
Decorating the House
I would assume that many of us love decorating the house for the holidays... or if not, you at least love how the house and tree look when it is decorated!I absolutely love spending time filling the house with Christmas cheer (my father likes to say I am obsessed with it)! From the nativity scenes to the wreaths, the nutcrackers, to the tree, my home is always filled with comfort and warmth that helps remind us of Christmases past. Our tree is filled with ornaments that used to hang on my grandparent's tree when my father was a child, and my angel is almost 80 years old! It's tradition with an eclectic flair for this home and I would not have it any other way!
Do you have a favorite carol? I know we sure have our top hits list in the Gibbs family! Yearly caroling, though unfortunately not a possibility this year, has been a family tradition since I was a young child. Don't forget the hot cocoa and cider afterward, however, or your limbs might fall off from the cold!
Baking and Cider Making
I don't have to say much about this one, except that I traditionally gain about 10 pounds from the smells alone!
Seeing the Lights
Don't Christmas lights just give you the biggest smile? In my hometown, we have a house that has millions of lights arranged in a spectacular dancing display that is coordinated to hours of religious and popular Christmas songs! It plays every evening from Thanksgiving through New Years and has always been a staple in our Christmas season. Now that I am in Southern California, however, I also like to drive to Beverly Hills (about 20 minutes from my home) and look at the lights on Rodeo Drive!
There is nothing like giving for Christmas, and that is definitely a fact! Growing up, my parents would partner with the Kiwanis Club and take families in need shopping for Christmas. This was probably my favorite this to do growing up and I loved to see the wonder in the children's eyes as they got to pick out a new toy and were loaded down with jackets, pants, and shirts that actually fit them and were all their own. This is a tradition that I hope to continue for the rest of my life and when I am fortunate enough to have children, I would love to help them understand the value of giving in this special time of year.
Streets of/Journey to Bethlehem
At home, it is called Streets of Bethlehem. Here in Southern California, is it called Journey to Bethlehem. Whatever you call it, an experience that brings us face to face with the story of Jesus's birth is a tradition I so cherish and hope to never end!
Wreaths Across America
This happens the weekend before Christmas each year and is a staple in my home! Wreaths Across America is a wonderful event that brings volunteers together to donate and place wreaths on fallen soldiers and veterans' graves during the Christmas Season. My undergraduate university (that I graduated from a few years ago now) hosts the event each year at Arlington and lays a wreath on every grave in the cemetery. There are also many, many other events hosted around the country on the same day each year (and if there is not one in your area, you can help host one)!
Christmas Presents On Christmas Eve/Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day
My family is English, Welsh, German, and Norwegian and our German definitely comes out with our unwrapping traditions! Santa makes a special pit stop at our place when it becomes dark on Christmas Eve and we open presents as soon as he leaves (or as soon as my work is over at the Church for Christmas Service, which the family attends). We also have a chance to call our aunts and uncles in the Midwest and wish them a Merry Christmas. We stay up until all hours of the night making joyful noise and then the next day is truly all about Jesus as we gather to eat, pray, praise, and worship, pop Christmas Crackers, and take in the meaning of the Season!
There are so many holiday traditions and joys we each share or that are individual to our experience. Still, we are bound by our love of Jesus Christ and our gratitude for His love and sacrifice in this most wonderful season. Blessings to you and your family this Christmas and the most happy New Year!