Mom was big on traditions! I mean really big!
Not just at Christmas, but all year round.
I’ve learned that traditions are very important to me too. When I look back on my childhood, it is those traditions that I remember the most. Those traditions made me feel loved.
Here are some of my favorite traditions that Mom did every year at Christmas.
*She always got us a new Christmas coloring book and a new pack of crayons the first week of December. We used to color in our coloring books while we watched the classic Christmas cartoons on t.v. (And yes, I’ve already bought some for my boys this year.)
*She would always let us open one present on Christmas eve, and it was always a new pair of Christmas pajamas. Oh how I loved sleeping in those new pj’s that night as I anxiously awaited Santa’s arrival. (And yes, the boys will be getting new pj’s too!)
*We would drink lots of hot chocolate with marshmallows with a candy cane to stir it. (I am actually drinking some right now!)
*And we would always make buckeyes…my favorite dessert of all time. I will be sharing the recipe next week. (And yes, I made some last week! The boys LOVE them!)
I hope and pray that the boys feel the same love from me that I did from Mom through each tradition.
But my all time favorite Christmas tradition was getting out our Nativity scene when decorating the house.
Mom wrote an article about it in 1991 when she was the food editor at our local newspaper. I want to share that article with you.
“Christmas is a family all bundled up in love.”
We usually trim the Christmas tree the second week in December. The night’s a special one for our whole family because the beginning of the yuletide season finally becomes a reality.
The excitement of the night has everyone scurrying about in each direction. As my husband Doug, brings in the tree, the excitement mounts. Next, he gets the laborious job of digging the decorations out of the attic. The children start the Christmas music, and I make the hot chocolate and arrange the sugar cookies and buckeyes on a pretty plate. As Doug brings the boxes down from the attic, they’re quickly opened and the carpet disappears as the decorations soon cover the floor. We all enjoy reminiscing over the handmade ornaments, the candy cane/lifesaver garland, the twinkle lights, the red bows, and the wonderful smell of the Christmas tree. Before we trim the tree, though, we set up our “treasured” crèche (a manger scene).
Doug and I bought the manger scene twenty-six years ago in downtown Lexington. It was our first Christmas together. We found the beautiful hand-painted crèche on a sale table in the back of Ben Snyder’s Department Store. It had a price tag of $10.98. We bought the crèche and placed it on top of our television set in our new home – a trailer. Little did we realize how much that nativity scene would mean to us in the years that lay ahead.
For several years, however, it was treated like the other decorations at Christmastime. We just got it out and set it in its old familiar place – on the TV. It didn’t seem to take on the special meaning until our children were old enough to help arrange the figurines in their places.
During their growing –up years, the children carefully unwrapped the figurines and Doug and I retold the Christmas story and discussed the real meaning of Christmas as they placed each figure in its proper place. I’m not sure the little lamb was in its proper place, though. Blake insisted on placing the little lamb up in the loft. (How a lamb could climb up there in real life is beyond me!) Traci loved hanging the angel on the nail where it belonged – at the top of the stable. Across the front of the angel’s robe is a banner that says, “Gloria!”. I laughed so hard the year Traci said, “Let me put Gloria up!” (She thought the angel’s name was Gloria!) Cyndi gently placed the baby Jesus in the manger between Mary and Joseph. Then one by one we all unwrapped the other figurines and placed them in the nativity. When we finished, Doug slipped a new, white bulb in the back of the stable. The reflection from the light causes the glitter to sparkle brightly in the shape of a star, behind where the Christ Child lay.
Immediately, Doug turned all the lights out in the room, except the one in the nativity scene. As “Silent Night, Holy Night” or some other hymn plays in the background, we all stand back in awe and gratitude and reflect on God’s greatest gift to mankind – His son, Jesus!
Approximately five years ago, I came across another manger scene (identical to ours) at Hillenmeyer Nurseries. Inflation had sky-rocketed the price to over $300.00. Would I sell ours for $300.00? No way…I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the loving memories our family has already experienced and will experience in the years to come - not only family memories, but also memories of our Savior's birth!
Mom’s right…it is priceless!
I had told Mom for years, (way before she was ever sick) that the only thing I wanted of hers and Dad’s someday was their Nativity. It was more precious to me than any furniture, silverware, jewelry, or money.
My sister and brother knew that and graciously let me have it when Mom passed away.
Tonight, my family put up Mom and Dad’s nativity for the first time. I felt so much love in my heart as I shared this special tradition with my family.
The boys loved unwrapping the figurines and placing them in the stable!
And of course…I found “Gloria” and she was as beautiful as ever!
And now the Nativity scene sits on my piano.
My son, Luke, played “Silent Night” on the piano for us. And my heart was filled with warmth and love as I thought of how happy it would make Mom to see it in our home. I know I will treasure it as much as she always did because it represents the most amazing Christmas gift ever given…God’s only Son, Jesus.
Thank you, Mom, for a lifetime of precious memories!
(And to my brother, Blake, that little lamb made it up into the loft again! Go figure.)
I have another Nativity set that I love as well. My mother-in-law purchased it for me a few years ago. It is from the Willow Tree collection. There are more pieces that I can add to the Nativity in the future. Mom always loved this set because it came with a camel. She always loved seeing a camel in a Nativity scene. I love the simplicity of this set.
Do you have a favorite family tradition at Christmastime. I would love to hear about it, (and I might have to steal it!) :)
Have a blessed day!
****I have been writing posts about my mom each week as a way to record her wonderful life for myself and my family. It blesses me beyond measure to know that my “Wednesdays with Wanda” posts have touched others’ hearts as well. Two special bloggers asked permission to share my son, Jonathan’s video that I shared last Wednesday. Of course I said “yes” and I wanted to share these links with you. Mom would be thrilled to know that her testimony is making a difference in the lives of others! These bloggers blessed my heart!
The first one is from Renee at Squizzle, Squash!
And the second one is from Kim at My Domestic Bliss.