Friday, April 29, 2011

Traditions: Christmas in April (Part 2)

Today we’re continuing part 2 of “Christmas in April,” which actually follows part 1a and 1b and 2a of a series of posts about Traditions.  So I suppose this is part 2 of part 2… or just 2b.  Clear as mud? :)  In case you missed the first 2 posts about Easter, you can get caught up here and here.  And before you read this post about Christmas, you can read the first half here, where I shared some thoughts about St. Nick and giving, as well as two fun stocking traditions.

Christmas Movie Night
The first official Christmas tradition that Matt and I started together (unintentionally at first) was a Christmas movie night with Matt’s siblings.  When we were engaged, Matt brought his younger siblings (Katie & Zach) to my apartment to watch “Elf .“  (Andrew & Emily lived in Cali at the time).  Each year since then we have continued to have a movie night with Matt’s siblings.  We choose a holiday flick and enjoy dinner and/or Christmas treats.  Over the (6!) years that we have hosted, the demographics of movie night have changed significantly:

Christmas Movie Night 2007 (excuse the photo quality- dying camera)

Christmas Movie Night 2010... Ha ha ha
 Who knows what this will look like down the road.  I can see it either morphing into more of a cousin gig, or into a date night without any kiddos... or both.  Personally, I also love the occasional treat of seeing a movie at the theater.  When we get to the place as a family where our kids are the right ages and a good holiday movie is playing, I think it would be fun to go all out once or twice.  I am sure there are countless other ways to build a fun cinematic Christmas tradition.  Who doesn’t love a good Christmas movie!? 

Christmas Eve Thai Food
When I met my husband, his family would hit up their favorite Thai food restaurant for dinner every Christmas Eve.  Isn’t that fun?!  Matt says he thinks they started the tradition 10 years ago.  Matt & I always look forward to Christmas Eve Thai cuisine with the Morgans!  Our holiday-extended-family-routine is typically to alternate Christmas and Christmas Eve, so the years that Christmas Eve falls with the Morgan clan we get an extra spring in our step with visions of panang curry dancing in our heads.  In more recent years, as we’ve added babies and toddlers to the family table, we have ordered take out and enjoyed the meal together at home or opted for other dinner fare.  I think this tradition might be hanging by a thread, but we all hold out hope each year! :)

Souksan wan Christmas!

Christmas by Countries
A couple of Christmases ago, my Mom (inspired by her longtime friend) came up with an idea to start celebrating ‘Christmas around the world.’  So each year we choose a different country to research, and we collaborate to plan our celebration around its unique customs and traditions.  The first year, we celebrated "La Noche Buena" (Christmas Eve in Mexico).  We prepared a fun Mexican dinner, learned about and implemented some neat aspects of Christmas in Mexico, and played some themed family games.  This past Christmas it was “Buon Natale” and all things Italy.  We were even visited by La Befana!  We have all really enjoyed doing something creative and different, and it is a great learning experience for the older children—actually for everyone.  Some of the traditions we highlight are just fun and festive, but there are also some significant opportunities to emphasize Jesus through the customs of other countries.  For example, in Mexico the nativity scene plays a leading role in the festivities, probably similar to the Christmas tree in most American homes.  They leave baby Jesus out of the scene as they wait for Him; on Christmas Eve, one of the most important parts of their celebration is placing Baby Jesus in the manger.  Love it.  I don’t think we’ve chosen a country yet for this year, but check back in December to read about 2011’s cultural Christmas!

Italia, 2010

And Let’s Not forget…
I have focused on some more unique traditions, but let’s not forget how special and meaningful all the old favorites can be!  Candy canes, decorating the tree together, Christmas caroling, a special trip to look at lights, baking cookies, Advent calendar, Christmas Eve worship, reading the story of Christ’s birth, preparing and sending Christmas greeting cards, and many more...  There are also a lot of ways to use the simplest symbols of Christmas as object lessons to point to our truest reason for celebration.  As I was browsing the web, I came across a sweet little webpage called True Meaning of Christmas.  It is short, so I will just let you check it out for yourself.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas in April!  Have a great weekend!

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