This is also the time of year full of traditions. For the last week we have been partaking of some of our family traditions. Thanksgiving dinner is full of tradition at our house. The menu never really changes: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, pistachio/marshmellow salad, corn, green beans, rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. When I have tried to alter the menu or even provide appetizers, there is rebellion, whining and the appetizers go uneaten.
Since the kids were little, we have had traditions that made the wait till Christmas measurable. I can't say which is my favorite.
I have always collected Christmas books. Each year I select and wrap up 30 books and put them in a basket. Then at night, a child unwraps a book and we read it as a family. We have always believed in the youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest method of determining who goes first.
Another tradition is the advent calendar. Since our boys were little, we have used the same advent calendar. It is not the traditional chocolate behind the window calendar, but it a multi-level, multi-faceted-activity wall hanging. Rick's mom made it for us when Jon was just two and it has been part of our Christmas ever since. For each day leading up till Christmas, there is a scripture to read relating to the birth of Christ. Then figures of Joseph and Mary are moved along the path to Bethlehem. Finally, during key scriptures, there are additional figures that are placed on the path. On Christmas Eve, Joseph and Mary reach the stable, then on Christmas morning, before we open presents, Rick rereads the nativity story and the baby Jesus is placed in the manger. Thank you Lorraine for replacing this for us.
On Christmas Eve, the kids open a single present. It is always the same, but they look forward to it each year - pajamas.
I have always thought that as they have grown older, my boys have taken my obsession with these rituals with a grain of salt, rolled their eyes, and humored their mother. What I learned this year was that they still enjoy participating. This year has been a renewal and reaffirmation that our traditions are what make our family who we are. They become the threads that tie our family together.