Whether it’s dinner on Sundays when the whole family gets together, or something as simple as eating the red smarties last. Traditions help to connect us to our past and create memories for years to come. I was reminded of the importance of remembering special times when I wrote A Life in Review
It’s been many years since my parents have passed away, and my kids have grown and have lives of their own. The traditions that we created have changed, as it should be. So many people get caught up in the way things used to be, or even worse, “should” be done that they forget the importance of being present and enjoying themselves.
I have always loved Advent for that very reason. The four weeks leading up to Christmas are a time of preparation and counting down to that special season of the year. Originally observed as a religious time of waiting, it has now become synonymous with chocolate (or wine) Advent calendars.
Here are a few of the ways my family has celebrated Advent in the past, and some ways you could adapt the ideas to create your own traditions.
Mary and Joseph travel to the stable
Ray gave me a Nativity set our first Christmas as a married couple. He built the stable himself. It is always the first decoration that comes out on the first Sunday of Advent. When our children were small, they would help by placing the animals in the stable. Mary and Joseph would start their journey in another part of the house. The children would take turns moving Mary and Joseph a little closer to the stable. The three wise men also journeyed “from afar”, arriving at “old Christmas” on January 6.
The Jesse Tree tradition
I learned about this tradition from a friend who gave the children a book about it. Jesse trees are actually a very old Christmas tradition starting in medieval times and are used to tell Bible stories from creation to the Christmas. The name comes from Jesse who was the father of the Jewish King David.
We would find a branch to use as a tree. Each day we would read one of the stories and the kids would either make an ornament.. You can see more about Jesse trees here.
This year, I am taking that tradition and creating my own version because I watched the movie “Coco” and cried for the spirits that faded away when no one remembered them. It inspired me and this year my “Jesse” tree will have ornaments remembering our grandparents, parents, cousins and friends who have passed on. I printed off ornaments that my 5-year-old friend coloured and cut them out for me. Each one will bear the name of someone special.
This is another great way to count down towards Christmas. Cut out 24 small lengths of paper and each day add to the chain. On Christmas Eve, each child can use their garland on the tree, or hang up as a decoration. Another way you can do this is to reverse it by making a garland with 24 rings and remove one ring each day.
Ideas for each ring
- family members who live far away
- favorite Christmas songs
- Christmas movies that you have watched
- qualities each person is going to work on (Patience, kindness)
As I get older, traditions are becoming more important to me. I would love to hear about your Christmas traditions. Maybe I’ll find some new ones to try next year!