Ah, my mind is swirling with Christmas traditions...not ones that we currently do, but ones that I would love to do someday. They are my "traditions yet to come." Because right now I have 3 boys under 5 including a baby that still nurses through the night. Right now, I can barely manage to keep the house in order and the fridge stocked. Right now, it is a full-scale production to do even the little things like bathtime, or getting the boys dressed, or tidying the play-room.
So, right now, I'm just going to file away some good tradition ideas to implement in the coming years.
1. Reading a different Christmas story each night. This would sort of be an Advent event - starting December 1st, we can sit as a family around the Christmas tree (or under the tree - James loves to look up at the lights from lying under the tree) and read one of the many Christmas books we've got.
2. A manger of hay. I just saw this idea today and LOVE it! You have a small manger, about a foot long, and a jar of "hay" (from a craft store). The idea is to do small acts of service through the month of December, and each time you do you put a little hay into the manger. Hopefully you can fill the manger by Christmas day.
3. Christmas caroling. In the near future, this will just mean singing around the piano as a family. I would also love to sing with our extended families at our get togethers, but not too many of them have the love of music we have here at home. As the boys grow, I hope we can actually bundle up and get out into the town to carol - whether at people's doors, or even in our local park that is decked out in Christmas decorations. People visit there nightly, and it would be neat to sing as they walk through.
4. Making Christmas gifts for each other. My sisters and I did this growing up, and I still have some of the gifts they made me. Since boys are usually not as crafty as girls, I would have a name draw between all five of us, each person making one homemade gift for one other person in the family.
5. Holiday baking. This one I really did want to start this year, but our weekends filled up so quickly! I would love a Saturday afternoon with my sisters and/or sisters-in-law where we all bring a recipe and make enough batches so that everyone takes home a good haul of baking for the season. Perhaps I'll get to it next year.
6. Christmas in July. Okay - this idea isn't new; I've been to a lot of "Christmas in July" celebrations. However, I'm not talking about gift giving and baking. I'm talking about service. I would love to put up the Christmas tree in July and then do a big family service project together. Everyone thinks about going to a soup kitchen at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but not many people remember it 6 months later.
7. A musical service project. James and I (and the boys, when they are older) would offer our musical services for the evening in return for a donation to a charity. Each year as a family we will research and choose a different charity. I envision the evenings either being mini fireside concerts with mostly performances by James and I (vocal, piano, flute) or us leading sing-a-longs, either with piano or guitar accompaniment. I have always wanted to get involved in service projects at Christmas, but so many people are also looking to do the same thing that often it is hard to really get in and serve. But this way we can share the talents with which we have been blessed with those around us, and donate to a cause close to our hearts.