Category: christmas

day 10: Christmas traditions


When it comes to holidays and rituals and traditions, every family has their own preferences, and they usually come from every family’s own baggage and the desire to do things better than how it was done to them.

Our holiday ‘ideals’ center around a few basics. We don’t want them to be overly fussy. We don’t want to emphasize presents. We always want to include people who might not have somewhere to go.


We do Santa in a pretty breezy way… There are cookies and notes, but not a lot of focus. Mama and Daddy give the gifts. We decorate early, again, because we don’t want to spend the season being busy, but enjoying it.

We blend Thanksgiving into Christmas with our sweet Randa’s birthday pretty much kicking off the whole thing. And since sometimes her day is near Thanksgiving, sometimes not, sometimes we have out of town guests, sometimes not… It never looks the same. That’s part of the fun. A few years ago we began to commemorate Hanukkah, as the girls’ grandpa is Jewish. We love it all. It all celebrates God. We love to celebrate His light and love.

We do not jump up and down yelling about the Reason For The Season…or that it should be called Christmas and not the Holidays, because we live a faith and Jesus centered life with our kids daily. And frankly, in this day and age, if someone wishes me a happy holiday rather than avoiding eye contact or honking their horn at me for not going the millisecond the light turns green, I’m feeling pretty good about life.

This year, we’re placing more emphasis on time together and giving to others. We are going to enjoy the anticipation of a family wedding. And we’re going caroling! I’m stoked. I’ve always wanted to carol in my flip flops when it’s 70 degrees out.

Chicagolina Christmas #3… Bring it on.

Santa’s workshop

We have not done very much in the way of traditional preparation for Christmas this year. Work schedules and travel got in the way, and after Friday, I wasn’t sure I would be in the mood.

BUT, there are teachers to buy for, and between my girls and their daycare/aftercare, there are 7 to care for. I had it in the back of my head, who would get what, but after what happened at Sandy Hook, well…

I want to buy every one of my daughters’ teachers a Corvette, and every one of their friends a pony.

But since that was not in our budget, I shopped Dollar Tree, Old Time Pottery (Barn), and our own cupboards, and the girls and I found a way to put special gifts together for these special people. I even made it part of Monday night’s Advent activity:Advent: Santa's Workshop

OK, so we didn’t exactly craft. The girls painted suncatcher ornaments. They carefully wrote out gift tags and decorated cards. They sweetly made an assembly line to fill treat bags for their friends. And I smiled, because though as a parent I worryworryworry about “how they will turn out” and hope they will inherit the best in us, I can see that they do  have the easy generosity that began with my immigrant grandparents and has been passed through the family line.

They took their tasks very seriously:

Randa paints IMG_5395 IMG_5396



We were all happy with the finished products:

And best of all, though I didn’t get to hug all the 4, 5, & 6 year olds I saw, or hand bucketfuls of money and chocolate to their hero teachers, we were able to capture sweet moments like this:


As we continue to mourn and hope, there are many lovely tributes to those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary. This one showed up on my Facebook feed tonight (thanks Tammy B!). It is an inexpensive and meaningful way to help a little…and remember always.

Click here to purchase.

A Christmas list

I do not have gifts bought or wrapped or cards sent or cookies baked, but last night I lit the menorah with my girls, and this week I get to go with each of them on a field trip, and Saturday we get to pass on a family tradition to them, and every night our trees are lit and prayers are said thanking God for the love He sent through Jesus. I could focus on what is missing from this Christmas season or what I haven’t accomplished, but to me, that would be an utter lack of gratefulness for what it is all about.


quiet Advent

I am still reeling today, reading, reflecting, seeking some life change. Real change, though, takes time and planning and leading from God. So, patience, grasshopper, I say to myself.

But one life change I can make right now is to celebrate a quiet Advent. My family is still sleeping… little do they know I am up & planning to buck against the hustle and bustle, the spending, and the obligations. If this season is supposed to be about celebrating Jesus, then we are going to spend it doing what He teaches us: to love Him and love our neighbors.

Even in that, as you know, our Pinterest-driven world can make quiet reflection a task list. So I just sat here with one website of ideas, our family’s schedule for the next few weeks, white scraps of paper, and a red pen. Our Advent calender is ready to be filled with mostly VERY simple, direct ways to celebrate. One day it is giving hugs to 3 people. One day it is watching a show with Mommy in bed. (hey… Daddy has traveling and Mama still has some nights to work…) A few days it is making cards, cookies, or presents. I hope the point communicated to my girls is simplicity. (My favorite day, I think, will be making sand angels on the beach! Pray for a warm & sunny December 16th!)

Also, and this is scandalous: I’m sending, like, 30 Christmas cards. This is HUGE for me, y’all. There were years I sent 200. I can’t do it this year. I keep up with almost everyone I love daily via FB and texting. I’m not sure sending a pre-printed photo card with computer-printed address labels shows my love adequately. So I’m not. Have grace for me!

Also, I think I am pretty much done shopping. I haven’t made a list of what I have bought. I might have 2 specific things left. We will do some Angel Tree giving. But whatever else we have is what we have. We will spend more time, not more money. We might even make some seashell frames (watch out, relatives!) We are going to do this a new way, for us.

Happy Advent. May His peace reign.