The Traditions of Christmas
by Becca Parrott
Traditions and Christmas – two of my favorite words in the world!! But when asked what one of my favorite traditions is at Christmastime, I was stumped as I love the entire season; especially now through the eyes of my own children. It dawned on me as I was recently setting up our advent calendar, that this is becoming one of my favorite traditions.
Two Christmases ago, our oldest daughter asked us about “a magical elf”. I instantly was ready to climb into a hole and bury myself until she forgot to ask again. For me personally, I am not a huge fan of the Elf on the Shelf. Many of you may shake your head and stop reading this post now. But hear me out. I want to take this time of when my kids are sponges and truly teach them about Christmas and the significance of Christ’s birth. When we start talking about a magical elf, it diminishes some of the awe of a baby born in a stable. In my opinion, it lessens the value of Christ by potentially opening up the question of “if the elf isn’t real, is Jesus’ story true?” Plus, while I am being honest, I think it’s a little creepy to imagine an elf reporting back to Santa since he is watching your every move. For those that love the tradition of the elf, it’s easy to see how this can be such a fun aspect of the holiday! Isn’t that the beauty of all of us having our own favorite traditions?
Back to Addie’s question of the elf. This is when I decided to create our own tradition of blending the elf and advent season together. Twenty-five days before Christmas our elf comes out and shares how many days it is until Christmas each morning. The girls excitingly wake up each morning looking for the elf. They then run to the advent calendar and find the corresponding number on it that tells them the activity of the day. Trey and I have thought of 25 different activities we want to do over the Christmas season and then place them on our advent calendar. For instance, baking cookies and sharing them with our neighbors, attending Christmas Eve service as a family and celebrating Jesus’ birthday, having a cozy fire while we read the Christmas story, letting the big girls act out the Nativity story in their own words, and going out at night to look at Christmas lights with a cup of hot cocoa.
This “one” tradition allows us to see the joy of our kids celebrating Christmas in a different way that’s not all about them. Instead of focusing on their own behavior, in hopes of getting better presents, the girls turn their focus outward towards bringing others Christmas cheer. And they have a lot of fun!! One of my favorite memories is coming into the kitchen while my mom, Addie, and Lexie were busy baking away. The smiles on their faces and the conversation/singing they were doing, just warmed my heart. I was watching my mom pour into my kids. My kids enjoying baking, and then packing up some of the delicious goodies to give away. Sometimes with Christmas, I get swallowed by the busy “to do list” which can make me miss the sacredness of the season. This tradition allows me to control the “business” and be more intentional with what fills our calendar. Plus we get to make really sweet memories every day leading up to Christ’s birth! I hope you enjoy this season with your annual traditions as well.