Top Holiday Traditions

My absolute favorite time of the year is the holidays and all of its traditions.  Once November 1st hits, I’m all about fall decor, preparing menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas, thinking about my Christmas decorations and watching all the Christmas movies I can fit in!

I start looking at local event schedules to see what area churches are doing in connection with the season. I am legit upset if my top holiday traditions don’t happen.

Concerts, Displays, Boat Parade & more!

I want to take in every musical, concert and sermon I can!

church

Light displays? I want to go see them!

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Festivals? Where, let’s go!

Boat parades, golf cart parades, the more, the merrier!

boat parade

Confessing Christmas Addict

Some might say I am Christmas crazy. Maybe so.

But it all just brings back so much nostalgia and I do not ever want to lose that.

It reminds me of holidays spent with cousins in south Georgia, running around with sparklers after dark. 

Of more than 40 (give or take a few) people crammed inside a 4 room house less than 1000 square feet big. And yet we had plenty of room.

It reminds me of gift exchanges, chicken and dumplings and 17 layer homemade chocolate cake.

And a ceramic Christmas tree that was my grandmother’s that I still put out every single year. (which somehow I have NO picture of. Rectifying that this year!)

5 Top Holiday Traditions

As I prepare to celebrate this holiday season, I thought I would share some of my top holiday traditions.  

  1. Celebrate Thanksgiving and fall decor! This one may seem like a “duh”, but how many people do you know that skip straight from Halloween to Christmas? Am I right? I like to give Thanksgiving its’ due with table decorations, a fall door wreath and yard flags and of course…pumpkin candles. (As you will see below, I need to up my fall picture game)
  2. Plan the meals…especially the treats! I LOVE to bake. And this time of the year I bake a TON of goodies. My husband owns a business and the first year I set a tradition of baking goodies for our customers at Christmas. A few years ago, I added Thanksgiving. Guess what? Don’t start something you can’t keep up as my Daddy would have said. The customers ask every year if I’m baking.
  3. Tree MUST be up no later than Thanksgiving night. It was always this way growing up and I plan to do it this way as long as God grants me the ability to. My favorite Christmas decoration is my tree. I have collected numerous ornaments over the years, each with special memories. That tree becomes a living reminder each year of all the wonderful Christmases, vacations and family gatherings before. And I want to enjoy it as long as possible!
  4. Watch Christmas movies! Hallmark, Lifetime, The Nativity Story, Elf, all three Santa Claus movies…I want to watch all of them I can between now and the new year. And if I miss one, I will record it and still be watching Christmas movies in January. Don’t judge.
  5. Ride through neighborhoods to view Christmas lights! There is something about this that brings all the childhood feels back. It’s been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember and I truly enjoy it so much! Secular or sacred displays. Elegant or whimsical. I don’t discriminate.

Holiday Traditions of Christmas past

Sharing is Caring!

I’ve shared mine…won’t you share yours? I’d love to hear how your family celebrates this joyous season!

Our presence, not presents…is required

So this is Christmas…hustle, bustle, scurry, hurry.  Work parties, church parties, your friend’s annual party.  Children’s school concerts, plays, dance recitals, oh my!

And then there are the presents to buy.  Who goes on the list?  What will the family budget for gifts be? Should I participate in the work gift exchange?  Church white elephant? Do I do cards this year?  I didn’t really get any last year.

It’s stressful!  And while much of it is and can be fun…it does not hold the real meaning of Christmas and the focus of fellowship and worship that this season should hold.

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Instead of getting so wrapped up in wrapping all those gifts, just stop.  Stop and remember all those Christmases past…memories of loved ones who have entered into the sweet reward of heaven.  Memories of the joy of being with family and friends as a child.  Conversations around the Christmas tree, the kitchen, the backyard swing.  Candlelit service singing “Joy to the World”.
There…do you see it now?  There is Christmas!  It is Jesus, not Jingle Bells.  It is people, not presents.
 
This year, let the joy of the best gift ever fill you up.  Let the companionship of friends and family gathered around be enough.  And if presents are involved, great…but just don’t forget to bring the most important thing…your presence.

The Holidays are upon us…is it Ho, Ho, Ho or just Ho Hum to you?

The approaching holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.  I am reminded of childhood times at my grandparents homes, spending time with cousins, the aromas of all the food and the laughter that filled the air.  I am reminded of Christmas concerts, church socials and Christmas morning around the tree.

Of my Daddy sitting in his recliner sipping coffee and watching us with merriment in his eyes.

Of my first Christmas with my husband as we unwrapped all of our wedding gifts…we had been married just a few short weeks and it was such a glorious first Christmas together.

Blue Christmas…

For some though this time of year is especially painful because of the reminders of loved ones lost.  It may be painful because of recent diagnosis of illness, recent lost jobs, homes or divorce.  It may not feel like the most wonderful time of the year to them.

Whatever the loss, I am reminded of Matthew 5:4 – God hears and will comfort you.  It is promised.

Bah Humbug…

Still others may fret over this time of year because of all of the busyness that often accompanies it.  Parties at the kids’ schools, parties at work, the neighborhood block party, presents to buy, Secret Santa, Black Friday lines, UGH!  They may simply feel like they are slogging through and cannot wait for it all to just be over with.

If this is you friend, let these words bear you up:  God is waiting to provide rest for you…be still.  Listen.  Set aside time in the busyness to just be with Him.

There you will find peace in this season.  Matthew 11:28 assures us of this.

Comfort and Joy

Regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, giddy with anticipation for the season, sorrowful from your losses, or agitated before it even begins…God is here to comfort you…to bring peace and joy where there is none. 

We cannot manufacture this on our own…we need Him in us to bring that peace which surpasses all understanding.

Even for those of us who are excited about the impending holidays, we must not get swept up in the glitz and glimmer of lights, tinsel and bows.

It is the child in the manger which should have us shouting for joy!  It is His presence that should leave us in awe.  For He is who we are celebrating…enjoy your family, friends, parties and presents.  But please don’t forget the greatest gift that truly makes this the most wonderful time of the year!

L.O.V.E. is giving cheerfully

II Corinthians 9: 7 – So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

 There is always much talk about giving and getting around Christmas, however, I feel it is not a conversation just for holidays or birthdays.  It should be how we live out our faith every day – giving to others cheerfully. 

Whether we consciously think about it or not, we are giving something to someone (or several someones) every day.  We give of our time and skills at work.  We give food and affection to our families.  To our pets.  Heck, we even give time to the television!  Hopefully we are giving some of our time to God.

The question is are we doing all of these things cheerfully?  If I am honest, I must say that sometimes I give grudgingly…I give because I have to, not because I want to.

However, when I am giving cheerfully…it causes love to well up inside of me!  I feel the happy emoticons going off in my heart and in my head!  It’s cheesy but true.  And since God loves when I cheerfully give…I want to do it more!

What can you give cheerfully this Valentine’s month?  Time, skills, cupcakes?  Who can you give to that maybe you would not normally think of?  Mother-in-law…brother-in-law…co-worker?  I am not saying it has to be something all bedazzled in hearts and flowers…but just think about how you can spread a little sisterly (or brotherly) L.O.V.E. cheerfully this Valentine’s.  See if your heart doesn’t just bloom!