A New Christmas Tradition

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This is our year for new, intentional Christmas traditions.

Traditions are the ways our kids identify what is most important to our family. What are your traditions teaching your kids? 

[tweetthis]Traditions are the ways our kids identify what is most important to our family. #Traditions [/tweetthis]

Granted, we have our moments that require pictures and some planning. We must make Christmas cookies, together. This requires finding the rolling pin, preparing the table, making sure the vaccum and mop are in working order and pray hard that my patience will indeed remain in check! Oh…and most likely I won’t be eating any of these cookies. It’s nothing personal, really. It’s just that I know where my kids hands have been. Soap and water can only do so much. Sometimes, you just have to play it safe during the holidays…right moms? That’s also the reason these said Christmas cookies never make it into gifts for the neighbors or my kids teachers. Yes, you are welcome.

But this tradition taught my kids that mom breathes really deeply when we bake cookies and for some reason the floor never looks the same again. This is not the main tradition I want my kids defining our family by this Christmas. Please, no. 

[tweetthis]What are your traditions teaching your kids? What’s MOST important in your family? #Christmas[/tweetthis]

But this year is different. We were moving into this house last year. The year before that I was pregnant (moody), working and my husband was in full-time nursing school. The year before that we had 2 amazing young boys and I was so sick, I couldn’t even begin planning much at all (I wrote about this expecting the unexpected last week). So, you see, we finally have time to be a bit more intentional this year – thank You God!

I’ll be sharing one of our new traditions each week, as well as updating you on how they are going. We all know sometimes, intentional or not, our ideas flop. It’s better to learn from the mistakes of others than to take this trip yourself, right?

Introducing Gabe – the elf on the shelf with a really big twist. Now regardless on where you stand on this pesky little guy, please read our twist.

We started this tradition last year. We were living in a temporary place until we could move into our house (mainly waiting for the paperwork to go through). Being that the place was not ours, we just couldn’t decorate for Christmas. It was so strange going outside and seeing lights, inflatable snowmen and nativity scenes…and then coming back home to normal. That’s when Gabe visited our kids. He showed-up on our doorstep one night and suddenly our normal became a new Christmas gift.

You see, Gabe is short for Gabriel (taken after the angel Gabriel that visited Mary and the shepherds in the Bible). Gabe is sent to our family with one mission – to make sure we are ready to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. How does he complete this mission you ask? In a very fun and completely unexpected way.

Last year Gabe was a bit tired. He would bring verses back from his flight from the North Pole each night. Sometimes, Gabe wouldn’t move to a different spot the next morning. Sometimes he would move several times in one day. He was young. We were new at all of this. I’ll be truthful, I’m just glad Gabe didn’t get lost in the moving boxes! But the absolute highlight that my kids still talk about from last year was Gabe’s final days with us before Christmas. Each morning he would leave parts of a manger scene with the boys.

First came the barn…

then the animals…

then the shepherds…

then the wisemen…

then Joseph and Mary.

But on Christmas, Gabe completed the scene by leaving baby Jesus.

But now we move to this year.

Gabe has introduced our kids to the “Our Family Can” filled with activities we can do as a family each day leading up to Christmas. I made this jar at my moms group. It’s incredibly easy to make! Just write an advent verse on one side of the pop-sickle stick and a question or an activity to plan on the other. I numbered mine to keep everything in order. On Fridays we are having family Christmas movie nights! Last night our oldest read the pop-sickle stick that asked everyone what their favorite Christmas activity is to do as a family. We discussed and planned to do each activity together on various calendar dates. Yes, Gabe is so cool, isn’t he?

This morning, Gabe really outdid himself. He flew back in and got caught on the boys bathroom hook. But that’s okay, he left a message from Santa on the counter. See the images below.

My plan is to have the boys add to the blanket slowly and purposefully. On Christmas morning, we have a baby boy doll ready to be wrapped up in their blanket under the tree. We will see how this goes!

I’m learning through Gabe’s visits that my kids crave learning more about this baby Jesus and His story. Over the past few days my oldest continues to ask me questions like:

Why did they put Jesus in a cow dish?

Why didn’t the angel tell more people?

Was baby Jesus cold?

Why did Jesus love us that much?

As a mom, these questions melt my heart and choke me up a bit too. Gabe played a role by allowing him to start thinking along these lines, as well as our Jesse tree (I’ll be covering that next week!).

So, I’d love to know – what intentional traditions are you or have you done as a family? 

Bethany is an ICF trained Certified Professional Christian Life Coach (Christian Coach Institute Graduate), Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, mentor to women and an author. Bethany defines herself as a child of God who loves to use her passion for change to inspire others. She has overcome disabilities, wading through the trials and rewards of marriage and motherhood. She enjoys being a wife to Steve for 10 years and mother to three boys (ages 7, 5 and 2). She is a double brain cancer survivor, a 9 year veteran in the field of youth and children's ministry and has published poetry, featured blog posts for numerous ministry websites and children's ministry curriculum contributions. Bethany is currently working on her first book to be released this Fall as well as various freelancing projects. Bethany always welcomes new coaching clients and speaking opportunities!

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22 thoughts on “A New Christmas Tradition

  1. When mine were little, we unwrapped the Little People Nativity set one night at a time. It was so sweet to watch the boys’ growing anticipation for the arrival of baby Jesus.

    This year, we’re trying to do a Jesse tree for the first time. We’ve missed quite a few nights, but drawing together to prepare our hearts for Christmas has been a blessing.

  2. What a creative new tradition! We’re just starting Christmas traditions at our house, since Carissa just turned one, and my favorite moment so far is decorating the tree together. As my husband and I would put globes on the tree, Carissa would pluck them off. Oh, the laughs! 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful Advent season celebrating the birth of Jesus!

  3. Intentionally making traditions…I like this. I still carry on many traditions from my childhood with my children such as a gift of pj’s on Christmas Eve and table gifts, to name two. This year I think I will ask my children if they’d like to start a new tradition, one that THEY will continue with their eventual children.

  4. I love how you are using the Elf on the Shelf to teach your children the true meaning of Christmas. There was no Elf on the Shelf when my kids were growing up…and at first I thought it was cute. But, find myself wondering just what the purpose IS for this Elf that gets into so much mischief! Thanks for sharing this new tradition for you and your family!

  5. That is sweet. Christmas always takes me by surprise each year. I love traditions, but I find I can’t get my act together to carry them all out. Yes, we decorate but I would like to do more. These are some sweet ideas.

  6. An excellent variation on the sometimes troubling Elf on the Shelf. My kids are grown now, but I wish I’d been able to articulate your concept of traditions when they were younger. Blessings!