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Holiday Traditions full of LOW stress but HIGH JOY!

One of my favorite realizations that I’ve come to know as a parent but somehow always felt or knew as a child is that routines and rituals lead to a feeling of stability.  A child thrives in the safety of knowing what will happen next. So much of our world is unpredictable.  I love enjoying the comfort of what we do know.

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Holiday traditions are another way to build those warm and fuzzy memories.  Children love remembering yearly customs and traditions, but these don’t need to be overly crafty, or tangled in multiple steps or with countless supplies. Look around! Much of what you are already doing is likely building a safe haven of warm traditions for your family.

When I was a child, one of my favorite Christmas memories was an annual gathering of family friends for our Christmas Party.  Once upon a time, four young couples that used to disco dance on Friday nights, expanded to four bustling families and met for dinner a few weeks before Christmas each year.  The setting rotated between the four houses, everyone contributed to the meal, and Santa paid a visit with a special toy for each child and a gag gift for each adult.  When we were tiny, part of this tradition included one of the Mothers (who I lovingly call the YaYa sisters because…they are just that) reading the Christmas story from the Bible.  Each child would have a small piece of the nativity in his/her hand and get to place it into the set when that part of the story was read.  As we grew, this somehow turned into us older children acting out the story in a thrown together play in someone’s basement. 

 

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Yep, here we are… wood paneling and all… with Baby Jesus (compliments of Xavier Roberts himself) at the center of it all. This picture makes me laugh loudly. I’m guessing kids around this age don’t choose to spend Friday nights this way without any direction or pressure from parents these days! None the less, these were memories made. Predictable holiday routines. Joy.

 

 

At my own home, we are building on some traditions we started and I wanted to share with you.

One of my favorites is our Christmas book basket.  Started with a collection that I’ve had since I was a child, and built upon yearly through gifts we received or books we purchased ourselves, this collection only comes out with the Christmas decorations and only stays out for those few special weeks.  I love the old school mix of these favorites intertwined with fancy pop up books and our favorite scratch-n-sniff selections.  Amazingly, my children spend most of December centered around this collection.  Like special toys that are put away and only allowed for a short time, these treasures are used to teach school, sing carols, and “play” church.

 

In addition to our traditional tree with all the homemade ornaments, we have a small “travel” tree.  Our family loves to travel and we enjoy collecting ornaments at the various places we visit.  It is even more fun revisiting the memory of the trip when we decorate the tree.  While we dream up new trips and places to explore, we fill in the tree with handmade crocheted snowflakes made by my aunts and my husband’s great grandmother. A mix of past and future – what could be better!

 

 

 

Possible not so unique, but equally loved by my children, is this sweet Advent calendar that was a gift from their Nana. It hangs on our door and they love adding a piece to the Christmas scene each day.

 

 

New to our list of traditions this year, is this sweet tree.  It’s made of costume jewelry from my husband’s grandmother.  I love thinking of her southern charm and wit when it glistens across the room from me. I’ve always wanted one of these and was surprised how easy it was to make (velvet scrapbook paper, glue gun, frame – done!). 

 

 

 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in December. I am here to say that I am not done shopping, haven’t started baking or wrapping, and have not even picked out a Christmas card.  My favorite holiday traditions are not ones that take the most planning or time, just ones that bring the most JOY! Wishing you a low stress, high JOY December!

 

What are your family’s traditions? What holiday routines do your children love to look forward to? We’d love to hear! 

  

Speaking of traditions….this guy reluctantly made an appearance (with the help of a grandma) and I’m trying to let him grow on me!