Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Traditions and Thankfulness

A couple of months ago, a friend moved out of state because of her husband’s work. They’re living in an apartment until their new home can be built, so many of their things are in storage. She posted on Facebook around Thanksgiving that they were going to keep things very simple this Christmas – including making most of the decorations for their tree.

She and their four-year-old daughter made paper chains to wrap around the tree – nothing new by any means, since people have been decorating trees with paper chains since the Victorian era. And did you know that the first Christmas tree was introduced to England’s royal family in 1841 by Prince Albert (German husband of Queen Victoria)? It only took a few years for having a decorated Christmas tree to be a necessity in every fashionable Victorian home.

But I digress. Back to my friend and her daughter.

They didn’t make a regular, plain paper chain for their tree. They wrote something on each strip that they’re thankful for before they hooked it to the next link. She said her daughter included everything from family members to clouds to flowers to books to the grocery store. Reading her post gave me a laugh, but I also loved two things about it. One, that she might have started what could become a wonderful family tradition each Christmas. And two, that their tree has become a constant reminder of how many things – big and small – they have to be thankful for every day. I don’t know about you, but I need those reminders.

I’d love for us to share some things that fall into one (or both) of those categories. I’ll go first. :-)

Decorating cookies with my sister -- just a few years ago. :-)

One tradition in our family is baking Christmas cookies – and lots of them! My sister and I grew up making countless messes in the kitchen while we learned to measure ingredients, roll dough, and sprinkle the prettiest bits of colored sugar on teacakes made by my grandmother’s recipe. Now my mom cleans up the messes made by my kids, who are 13 and 11. They still use all the same recipes and many of the same cookie cutters that I did. Our daughter spent yesterday afternoon making and decorating cookies with Nana, and both kids will decorate gingerbread houses with her next weekend.

So far as thankfulness goes, I have way too many things to list. Family, friends, wonderful co-workers, a home, a job, food on the table (even if it might not be what my kids want some nights!). Music, books, snuggly kitties, sunsets that take my breath away. But most of all, I’m thankful for the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place – because God sent His Son Jesus to save us and take away our sins.

So now it’s your turn. Will you tell us about a tradition your family shares during the holidays? Or a few things you’re thankful for this holiday season? I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

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