Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Traditions

My sister in law, Sarah, recently taught a young mom's group at church about the importance of traditions in our homes--activities that identify what we value and keep our family unit together.  She used a lot of information from a great book by Noel Piper called Treasuring God in Our Traditions.  So what do we value in our home?  To what do our Christmas activities/traditions[ point?  First and foremost, we look to God in everything.  We live for Him, and so our traditions reflect that.  Secondly, we value others.  Family, friends, strangers, and the church body--we serve, hang out with and love on others, praying we constantly grow in our Philippians 2 attitudes.  Of course, fun and food are huge blessings of the holidays, so they are sprinkled throughout all our traditions.
I thought I'd share some of our traditions with you in this post--a sort of pictorial journey for activities I have photographed and a brief explanation for those I have not yet caught in a picture.


In late November, we stay at Disneyland for two nights--we have season passes while the boys are young.  The Christmas decorations are freshly up, and the boys love the time at the park.  Of course, as is a family tradition of ours, we never tell them ahead of time but surprise them upon arrival--they'll eventually catch on if we do this every year.  Though, in not too many years, they will be too old for Disney, but I'll cry if I think about that.  It is a special time with just the four of us.

The day after Thanksgiving, we head to Fashion Island and Roger's Gardens with the boys and family friends to go take pictures at the BIG tree.  We are big fans of all the amazing lights at Christmas! Jesus is the Light of the world.  Ryan grew up in Ohio and said the lights were much less where he lived--people put candles, or "welcome lights" in the windows. 

We take a Christmas card picture of our family each year.  It is fun to see how the boys are growing and our styles change.  I absolutely LOVE getting Christmas photo cards in the mail each year!  It is a great opportunity to tell friends and family that we celebrate Christ!

This is our Jesse Tree.  We do a Biblically focused Advent, with daily devotions from Old Testament stories, which all point to our need for and the coming of Christ.  This is a great crafty project for those of you who want to make your ornaments.

Every year we go Christmas tree hunting with my sister and brother in law and our friends, Justin and Lindsey.  We always take a group shot of all our kids, and this is what always happens--pure chaos (notice Micah crying in the front). It is a great momento of our lives right now--before we blink, they will be all grown up.

There are a lot of nights we just grab a hot cocoa and go explore all the fun Christmas spots around town.  Driving in the car with cocoa and Christmas music, looking at lights, is a December highlight.

Carter is now old enough that we have an annual Christmas program to go watch at his school.  He gets all gussied up, and, of course, we come armed with multiple cameras, video cameras and the grandparents.  I love every minute of it!

We make cookies and decorate them.  I didn't have a picture of our home cookies, but here is a fun picture of Carter eating treats at one of the Mission Viejo Christmas nights.  We watched Charlie Brown Christmas, drove choo-choo trains, played in "snow" and decorated cookies.

We make caramel brownies for the neighbors on our street.  We pass them out as a family and invite them to our Christmas Eve services at church. 

We hold our annual Thrive Christmas party.  Ryan and I co-lead a young marrieds ministry at our church.  We have been doing this for 6 years now, and we have grown from a group of 30 to a group over 200 people big.  Every year, it includes dinner and a white elephant exchange.  This year we also played some fun games on the stage. 
We also host a party for the needy at a hispanic church associated with our church.  Each small group donates toys, food and gift cards as gifts, and we all serve them a fun dinner in a decorated room.  I sadly don't have any pictures of this, but hopefully I'll get some this Sunday when we host the party again.
We love this ministry and are blessed to be a part of it.

We started a new tradition of going to Downtown Disney Christmas Eve day.  We go walk through the fun shops, look at decorations, eat lunch and go to Build a Bear and buy a toy for the boys.  Last year, only Carter got a toy, as Micah wasn't even one yet.  This year Micah will get a stuffed animal too.  Here is Carter with Sporty Dog from last year.
 Christmas Eve we go to church.  It is always beautiful and a great way to focus on God in the bustle of activity that comes with Christmas.  I love our church.  If you are in the Orange County, CA area and are seeking a Bible teaching church, visit us at Compass Bible Church.

Christmas morning has many traditions.  We wake up and have the boys wait at the top of the stairs.  Carter has his Sporty Dog, as this was last year's picture in our old house.  We read the Christmas story in the Bible, open stocking presents, eat a special breakfast--this year it is French Toast Casserole from the Pioneer Woman.  Then we open presents and go spend the rest of the day with our families.

What are your traditions?  I'd love to hear!


  1. mmmm that casserole looks scrumptious1 my mil makes monkey bread so thats plenty sweet for us. im making pioneer womans 'sleepin in ommlette' its amazing, i make it a few times a year but especially for christmas morn. our new traditions our here are the jesse tree, thrive christmas party (obviously!) and tonight we are going for a walk to look at christmas lights around our neighborhood... in canada you cant go out for walks this time of year... well you can but you would be miserable. we are so excited to go for walks in sweaters (maybe raincoats today!) we always spend christmas either with my fam in canada or jobens in NC so there are always different traditions depending on where we are so every second year its switched one or the other! :)

  2. The night you got your tree, we were driving next to Justin on Alicia! I didn't know you guys all go together! How fun!

    We like to have our Christmas morning as a family ON Christmas Eve! Christmas Day is filled with extended family so it's nice having a low key day at home before the busyness!

    This year, we added seeing the drive thru nativity which was SO cool! They had the Christmas story on the radio too! :)

    We love looking at lights on Candy Cane Lane (hot cocoa in hand). I could probably add a few traditions :) My family growing up had SO many traditions that we've not had a lot of traditions for our family!!!

  3. I think some of my favorite Christmas memories though are my mom and grandma reciting Luke from memory then us singing Happy Birthday Jesus as we dug into a homebaked chocolate cake :)

    This year I made a LOT of cookies and pie with Abby which were things we did with my grandma too :)

  4. I love all your traditions! It warmed my heart just reading them. You have a beautiful family!

  5. I found you on Tater Tots and Jello! I am loving your blog, I saw it before, but now I am hooked! I would like to invite you to my $50 American Express giveaway and a linky party I have, all going on this week! Happy Holidays! Keep up the great blogging!
    -Dana Jean


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