The countdown to Christmas has begun and now that Gianna is old enough to comprehend the meaning of the season, I have had a field day on pinterest and some wonderful blogs curating and talking with Matt about what traditions we want to have in our family during Advent and Christmas. It is really important to us that our family enjoys the many fun and magical things about the season, but that we are able to really focus on the season of anticipation during Advent and the incredible joy of Christ’s birth.
Some families only have St. Nicholas come on Dec. 6th and then have the rest of the season to focus on the coming of Christ instead of getting presents from Santa. Some families introduce their kids to Santa, but keep it really simple and closer to the real story of St. Nicholas and limit his giving to 3 gifts on Christmas eve (like the gifts from the 3 wise men or to symbolize the Holy Trinity). Some do both, and I think we might fall in this category? There are so many wonderful ideas out there and now that Gianna is able to remember more, I feel the pressure to be organized so that the fun is consistent from year to year.
St. Nick came last night and the girls were really excited and grateful this morning. He left some treats, a Brother Francis Movie “The King is Born,” some instruments and letters affirming each of them in what they’ve done well this year and one thing to consider working on before Christmas.
We spent the rest of St. Nicholas’ feast baking cookies…whole-wheat-natural-food-coloring-Christmas-cookies. I know what you are thinking, but they actually turned out really yummy 🙂 We got the cookie recipe here and boiled and strained cranberries for the coloring. Baking cookies with my mom growing up was such a fun tradition and I am grateful to be making my own memories with my little ones.
Another tradition we starting this year is the Jesse Tree. Dear friends of ours (check out Brittany’s awesome blog here) invited us into their home last year and shared this beautiful prayer with us. There are lots of printables and ideas for this online, but basically we have a little tree on our dining room table and each day we light our advent candle, pull out the daily ornament to place on the tree and read a little bit of Scripture. The stories begin with Creation and take us all the way up to the birth of Christ. We close by singing a verse or two from “O Come Emmanuel.” Oh, the kids get a little sweet treat at the end. Usually a small hershey kiss, but today we ate our cookies instead.
photo credit: http://michelequigley.com/the-jesse-tree/