Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Can you drive by any neighborhood street and not see the Christmas lights?

Or go into any department store and not see Christmas flashing everywhere?  To me, Thanksgiving often takes a back seat to the commercialism of Christmas... and that's sad to me. Because DARN it!! Thanks giving is a wonderful celebration.  (I love how Nostrum's has a sign posted in their windows saying something to the affect..."we like to celebrate EACH holiday ... so we will not be putting up our Christmas decorations until AFTER Thanksgiving." ... LOVE it!! Good for them!)

Remember the Sears Christmas catalogue?  How you thumbed through it by the hour?  Well, today every channel and every store are bombing our kids with Christmas and the newest gadget and toy... how could our children not be self centered around Christmas? And that LIST??? 

As a young mother I was very worried about that "all about me" syndrome... so I created a fun tradition that we did every year with our young kids.

We called it Santa's Elf.

We started this around the age when my kids probably knew that Santa had "helpers" (about 9 or 10)
We selected a family with very young children  and I created 12 Christmas bags.  Each Christmas bag held a small hand made Christmas ornament, a couple of pieces of candy and a Christmas story, printed out. (I love love love Christmas stories of all sorts, Check out an old personal blog story  )

This is where the fun came in... Each night at dark... my husband and one of the kids would quietly sneak off to place the bag of treats on the front door... RING the bell and run!!! The anticipation of the Elf delivery was a key component of our family nights 12 days before Christmas.  It kept them thinking of others and the spirit of Christmas rather than on themselves and what they would be getting from Santa. (Just a side note:  hahhah!  one night as my husband and son parked wayyyy down the road and snuck up to the house... the police stopped them! Apparently a neighbor saw this GUY sneaking up to a house then RUNNING!! A great story to tell forever huh?) On Christmas Eve we would all ring the door bell with the LAST Christmas bag and reveal who Santa's Elf was.

Traditionally I have collected over years Christmas stories. We read them nightly and at my sister's home on Christmas Eve.

I have to share at least one Christmas Story.


The African boy listened carefully as the teacher explained why it is that Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship of each other.” she said.
When Christmas day came, the boy brought the teacher a sea shell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she gently fingered the gift.
The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.
“Why…why, it’s gorgeous… wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”
His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”
By Gerald Horton Bath
And lastly, Christmas just wouldn't be the same for me, if I didn't watch "It's a Wonderful life" at least a couple of times.  Or that irreverent "Christmas Story."
Traditions bring comfort. Traditions bind us together.  But perhaps your family isn't together during the holiday... and maybe those traditions of days of old are the one thing that brings you joy once again.
Here is wishing you all a lovely traditional Thanksgiving!!! I am so blessed to have you all in my life and thank you for being my inspiration always!!
Please be sure and add your traditional photos to our Flickr pool.


Dotti said...

What a fun post, Claudia! Yes ... I well remember the fabulous store decorations when I was a young child growing up in New York City. Nothing remotely like it where I live now!

And I love Christmas stories. A few years ago, my husband gave me a copy of "A Different Kind of Christmas" by Alex Haley. It serves as both a Christmas decoration and annual must-read book.

On Christmas Eve, my daughter always reads "The Night Before Christmas" to her daughter and I have the most precious photo of that first Christmas when this tradition was started.

Thanks for reminding me! But first things first ... tomorrow let's all give thanks. Like you, Claudia, I'm so thankful for all our sisters and readers here at FOL.

Kim Stevens said...

Oh yes, I loved this post, and I have loved so much hearing about everyone's traditions!! "Long walk part of gift", that is so perfect and sooo very true. Our family, having been out of work twice, once for an entire year....well let's say that saying means a lot to me. But, I'm NOT going to tell you that while I'm preparing for our Thanksgiving for four, I may or may not be singing some Christmas carols while . . . nope, not telling! haha XO

Linda said...

I love your tradition! Such a great way to show kids the meaning of Christmas! I agree that Christmas has gotten commercialized and the stores start selling it way too early! I'm fighting to take things one holiday at a time! On that note-Happy Thanksgiving!


I will think of you as I watch "It's a Wonderful Life". I love that movie!

Carol said...

Hi Claudia -
What a great idea! To ditch the selfishness is the tue gift at this time of year. This reminds me of my great aunt, who lived alone in her later years. Each Easter she would deliver Easter baskets to the porches of those with more meager lives. I'm so glad that wonderful, generous people like you are in this world!
Happy Thanksgiving! (ic-snay on the istmas-ay).

heyjudephotography said...

That is a great tradition Claudia, and so important to remind everyone what the season is really all about. It's so funny that one the neighbors called the police thinking that there was suspicious activity going on! haha Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I do so love that this is one holiday that doesn't seem to have become so commercialized.

terriporter said...

Christmas traditions are the best and I love yours! Teaching children the true meaning of Christmas is so important. Loved the story about the neighbor calling the police! I too try to focus on one holiday at a time and am enjoying all the wonderful Thanksgiving traditions this week. Hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!

Jeanne said...

Such a great tradition, and one I am sure your kids remember well! Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

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