December Nights:10 Solemn Sayer Christmas Traditions.

Oh my, December is practically half way over. I hate that! How does this keep happening? I love December. It’s all about traditions and I am,  if you haven’t realized yet, quite the fan of tradition.  I’ve talked about our epic slew of December traditions here before. Here are some photos from this year’s festivities.

Solemn Tradition 1: We decorate our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving every year. It’s a very serious affair. Everyone gets an ornament every year and so they get to put their little collection on the tree themselves. Of course this is accompanied by much debate over which ornament is missing and who has an unfair advantage and which ornament actually belongs to which person. It’s beautiful. But mostly it is.

Solemn Tradition 2: We have to play the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s White Christmas album or decorating just can’t be done. It has been this way since I was a kid.  That album is the soundtrack of Christmas. (It also happens to be the soundtrack of my favourite Christmas movie).

Solemn Tradition 3: On the night that we decorate the tree the kids all wear their brand new Christmas pajamas. (Bought on Black Friday).  And no, I don’t force them all to match anymore.




Lately Ella has adopted the tradition of saying “ugga mugga” and rubbing noses with us in lieu of “I love you” and a kiss. She got this from Daniel Tiger and I’m grateful to that Tiger because it’s the cutest thing ever.


Solemn Tradition 4: Aaron puts the angel on the tree right at the end (this year it was a whole day later). And then

Solemn Tradition 5: I force the kids to stand in size order so I can take a photo.  Naturally.


Solemn Tradition 6 : Every year I wrap 24 Christmas books (most of which I borrow from our awesome public library) and each day the person whose “day” it is gets to unwrap one and read it to us, usually by the light of only the Christmas tree so it can be cozy. Happily, they have nice fresh young eyes. Benj is always HILARIOUS because he reads the books using a different accent.





Solemn Tradition 7: On our first Family Home Evening in December we write notes to each other about what we appreciate about each other. I stuff them in the advent calendar with a couple pieces of chocolate for each day. Every day the person whose day it is gets to read one of their notes (and I know they like those notes even more than the chocolate.)gabeadvent

The notes are always funny and often very sweet and I especially love reading the kids’ notes to each other from past years because they reflect the lingo and the slang they are into at the time. This year there is a lot of “swag” populating their prose.                     IMG_9839 IMG_0026

This year we’ve been hanging the read notes on our “special occasion” wire baobab tree sent to us from South Africa one Christmas by my sweet brother and his family. I love reading them as I pass by throughout the day.



Solemn Tradition 8: Every single night in December, no matter how busy or tiring a day he has had, this guy makes us all hot chocolate to enjoy while we read.  And not just boring hot chocolate. He always adds something special to it. Lately I’ve been getting nutella in mine. Yes, nutella.  No, he’s mine.


It can only be enjoyed in our special Christmas mugs or not at all.


I feel pretty strongly about having an appropriately shaped peep in mine.


Real life interlude: Hot chocolate makes my kids drunk. It really does. They can’t stop being goofy and giggling mere seconds after ingesting it. At first this can be endearing and fun. (Depending on my fatigue level).  Then it almost always gets really irritating and stupid so the charming nightly hot chocolate routine also means that every night at some point before bed I am forced to shriek at my darling children like a fishwife in order to sober them up. It’s sad, but true.  Thinking about it, I do that pretty much every night even when hot chocolate isn’t involved so, ok. It’s not the hot chocolate. What is it about kids being at their perkiest when we are at our most fried?   Anyway just thought I’d throw that in, in case things were seeming too perfect around here.


Solemn Tradition 9: Each of the little love-notes has a scripture reference, so we end the evening by looking that up. It is a scripture about Christ’s birth or the time leading up to it. We also read out of our “Christ binder” which has additional scriptures. Then we say family prayers and go to bed. 

Wait, no. Then we say family prayers, give hugs and kisses, back rubs and head tousles, say I love you with great affection, then we scream at the kids and ask them why it always has to end this way, then they go to bed).

Solemn Tradition 10: In a couple of days we will start what is by far our fav part of the season: our 12 days of Christmas tradition but we are more secretive about what this entails. Just know that it’s sooo much fun and I look forward to it all year long.

Honestly, it is all pretty time consuming and it takes a commitment on all of our part to make sure it happens every evening but we make it happen because we all love it.  You might think that it creates just one more thing to do in December but to me, and hopefully to my kids, this is what the season should be about. Being present with each other for an hour or so, no electronics flashing  and blaring, just laughing and reading focusing on Christ and our love for each other and just being. The soft lighting and beautiful music is a balm for my soul and I think for theirs too.  It feels like sacred time.  We started doing all of these traditions years ago and every year my kids anticipate them. I can’t imagine spending December evenings any other way. And truly, it is such a valuable exercise for me in a technology rich hectic life with busy kids.  It shows me that it can be done. We can turn off the electronics and tune out the noise, we can make time for the express purpose of connecting with each other and just be.  This to me represents the magic of Christmas.


Of course, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have their own elaborate set of traditions but I’ll  save those for later. You’re welcome.


Happy December Friends! May your days be merry and bright!

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Eden said...

Oh, I love #7, although to practice it I would have to get my act together before Advent begins and get everyone to write sincere thoughts about one another that don't include 'you are annoying' which might be a little more than I can handle.
We have three very sacred traditions that happen on Christmas Eve and they are rooted in Polish tradition. We read from scripture about the birth of Christ around the table before dinner, we ALWAYS set an empty place at the table for 'the stranger' so there is always room a traveler and finally we break oplatek, a thin pressed flour and water wafer with eachother. This symbolizes the forgiveness of all transrgressions large and small against eachother over the whole year and allows us to forgive and be ready to welcome the Christ child with an open heart. The only problem I have with any of these is that I can not get through them without sobbing. I really need to pull it together or my children will think that Christmas Eve is a time to cry like an insane person and look all puffy eyed for the rest of the evening!

Anonymous said...

Reading your blog gives me the same feeling that I get when I see Sweet Peas in flower! Only then do I remember that I wanted to plant them, and generally, it is too late. This year I found a few weary little seedlings for sale long after the main flush, and planted them in an obscure part of the garden. They are trying hard! I feel kind of sad because most of the traditions we used to observe have left with the children. I am so proud of you for creating these memories for your children. You are a star, and their lives will be blessed forever as a result.