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Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Tradition!

One of the most wonderful things about parenting has been making seasons and holidays feel special by starting our own family traditions. I love the ritual of it. I love how traditions make big, broad things feel close and personal. I love how traditions keep us engaged in why certain days or events or seasons are special to us. So I wanted to write about the things we do to make Christmas special for our little family.

We start the season with the story of Christ's birth. 
I've already shared that this is my favorite picture book version of the nativity story. The text comes from scripture, and the illustrations are really touching and lovely to me :)

I just love this little picture of newborn baby Jesus peeking out!

We count down to Christmas.
This year I made our first Christmas Countdown Calendar. This was a way for me to fit in all the big and little things I wanted to share with the boys this Christmas season. Frivolous and fun things like making gingerbread goodies and making holiday crafts, but also acts of service to help us remember that this is a season of giving.

Calvin hands over a toy as a gift for a foster kid at Sleep Train.

We collect Christmas books.
We have lots of Christmas books, but each year each kid gets a new special book for his own special collection (which of course he has to share with his brother :)). Calvin's first one was Christmas Parade, then last year he added Dream Snow and Henry got Christmas Peekaboo. This year, Calvin chose The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas because he loves dinosaurs so much! The best thing about this book is the elaborate dinosaur carols at the end including "Hark the Pterodactyls Sing" and "The Allosaurus Chorus!" Henry's book this year is Richard Scarry's The Night Before The Night Before Christmas. (And that is not a typo, that is the title.) Calvin actually picked out Henry's too because Henry thought all the books looked delicious and couldn't decide for himself ;)

We collect Christmas ornaments.
Our Christmas ornaments are special because not only do they make our tree nice and pretty, but they tell something about our lives each year. The boys each get their own every year and James and I get one together. James and I started our collection in 2006 when we were engaged and we have added to it every year since then. Here are our new ones for 2014!

Go Giants!! World Series Champs!! We <3 our home team.

A sweet sleeping raccoon for our sweet Henry and his journey this year to sleeping safe and sound.

This is Buddy the T-Rex from Calvin's current fave show: Dinosaur Train! Buddy even has a train ticket in hand!
I am so obsessed with our ornament collection, I just might give it its own post...

We play Nativity.
Sometimes with a train... because trains. Last year I agonized over finding just the right nativity set for our family. James remembers playing with a plastic nativity set that he had when he was a kid, so we wanted something kid-friendly, but I just wasn't feeling the Little People nativity and I really wanted a set that at least made some effort to be ethnically plausible. Turns out that was a lot to ask, but we settled for this one from Bible Toys. Most of the people in the set still look European, but at least Joseph and one of the magi are a little tan...

In the future, there are other traditions I'd like to start. When the boys are old enough, we will start taking them to an evening church service on Christmas Eve. And starting next year, I'd really like to do an advent wreath with candles. I kinda wish I'd done it this year... oh well. Next year! And when they're older, I would love for them to tell me what things they want to include in our Christmas Countdown.

But enough about the future! It is already amazing to see how much they have grown since last Christmas. Last year, Calvin was really interested in all the animals in our books about the nativity story, but this year he seems to actually get that the story is about a baby being born. It's really touching to see him understand the story on a whole new level. And Henry was just a teeny thing last year! This year he is crawling around, reaching for ornaments on the tree, chewing on the nativity figures... I realize that those things may not sound that great, but for Henry's delayed development, crawling around and selecting toys are a big deal! Henry is also starting to attend to books with more focus and his Christmas Peekaboo book from last year is a big hit with him this year! He sure loves a game of peek-a-boo.

Here's one more tradition: We see Santa!
I seriously hope that one day Calvin and Henry have a collection of Santa photos to rival those two brothers who were featured in Huff Post Parents for their 34 years of Santa pictures together.

Is your family getting into the holiday spirit? What are your favorite holiday traditions?


  1. wonderful post! so glad you're making fun family traditions!

  2. We have some of the same traditions- I think my favorite might be the Christmas books. I just love getting that bin out with the decorations and finding all our old favs in there. I haven't seen Christmas Parade...we might have to get that one this year!