Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christmas Traditions

As the season approached and I started thinking about traditions I thought our family didn't have many Christmas traditions...boy was I wrong.  We have a ton.  Yes, I know Christmas is long gone now but I still want to share some of our Christmas traditions with you. 

Our first Christmas tradition started before I was born probably.  I'm not sure of it's exact start.  We actually start this tradition in October/November.  I know you are thinking really?  But yes, we pull out the outside Christmas decorations in October (only lights until closer to Thanksgiving).  This is a tradition my grandpa started and we have carried it on.  Tons of beautiful lights and wooden decorations fill the yard each year.  I will never forget one of the last times my grandpa saw us putting up the lights, the Christmas before he passed away, my dad was taking him to the doctor, he drove him slowly past the yard and as they stopped where I was working I saw tears in my grandpa's eyes.  Tears of pride and joy.  He loved that we carried it on, I can't help but look at any Christmas thing without thinking of him.  Some of our traditions with the lights have passed with him (no one dresses up as Santa anymore, and we don't build a fire and watch cars pass by) but the lights and decorations remain.

Another tradition we have had for many years now is Christmas tree Hunting.  First Saturday of December we pack stuff for sandwiches and load everyone up for our trip.  The farm we get our tree from is about and hour away.  This year 20 family members were able to attend...awesome.  It is so great having such a large family and everyone living close together.  We were probably a site, 2 vans, 2 trucks, and a suburban :)  The day is filled with running through the trees, picking obnoxiously small trees, or obnoxiously large ones until we finally pick the perfect tree and each kid takes their turn at trying to cut it down.  Then we pile all the kids and grand kids in the back of the truck with the tree for the annual family photo :)  So much fun.  Then we finish the evening off with a Christmas parade.

Too small

Way too big!

All the kids and grandkids (minus Jeremy :( )

Advent calendars are another huge tradition for as long as I can remember.  Each kid has a calendar filled with candy that they get one piece of every night.  Every other night they get a small gift to build excitement for Christmas.  Sometimes the gifts are planned to go along with events like on tree decorating night they get a new ornament.  The gifts are inexpensive, usually things we have picked up here and there on clearance.  Love it!

This year I started a new tradition.  Our countdown to Christmas.  See what inspired me to start this new tradition here.  We did so many great things.  We made special snacks, special crafts, told the story of Jesus birth in many ways and spent a lot of great quality time together.  The kids loved it and I loved it as well (although, I can't tell you how excited I was cleaning up our final activity on Dec. 24...24 days in a row doing big activities...that is a lot).  They asked if we could do it again next year...yes we will.

Face the cookie game from our Minute to Win it party 

Nut stacker game also from our Minute to Win it Party
Gingerbread Houses

Birthday Cakes for Jesus
Christmas morning has some traditions of its own, some that drive my husband crazy as they are different from his childhood Christmas' but I'm winning this one :)  Most of the family gathers early in the morning to start presents around 730 or 800.  Everyone has their assigned seats complete with trash bags and buckets to put all your gifts in (with 14 people you have to try to keep some sort of order).  All the kids get to pick a Big Daddy Coke (a bottled coke with a hole poked in the top with an ice pick) or a starbucks frappacino (yum!) and we get started.  The number of gifts are kept equal for all attendees.  All the kids get one present at a time and all open it together (this is what drives the hubby crazy, he says it is too slow), then all the adults get a present a the same time.  I don't want to miss anything so yes, it takes a long time but we enjoy it. 

Notice the bucket complete with trash bag :) 

 Each kid getting a present

 All the family eating Christmas Dinner.

Some traditions have faded over the years.  No one shoots Santa any more (that was my grandpa and great grandpa (they would actually fire the shotgun, come in announce that Santa had been shot so we would not be getting presents this year).  We don't sit across the street with my grandpa instructing my parents on how to hang the lights evenly.  I do miss those but new traditions are being made each year.  I love my family so much!  What kind of traditions does your family have?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Why?  It is a question I've been asking myself a lot lately.  Why is there so much bad stuff happening lately?  Why are there so many hurting people in our world?  Why?  Why?  Why?  I know God has a plan for everything (yes, everything, even horrible stuff...he is going to use that too).  I once heard someone describe life as a puzzle.  Each event in life is like a piece of a giant puzzle (life).  We don't get to see the box, and we don't get all the pieces at once.  Only God knows what that puzzle will look like in the end, but it will always turn out how it is supposed to.  Sometimes the puzzle pieces don't make sense, sometimes we just can't see how they will fit but in the end it will all work out. 

Several years ago when I found myself pregnant again (which we so wanted, he was definitely planned) my excitement quickly changed to guilt as I thought about sharing with my family.  I knew they would be so excited for us but I also knew someone was going to be very sad.   My sister and her husband were trying and wanting a baby so bad.  And here I am having my second baby.  I felt so guilty...why do I get another baby?  Why won't God bless her with a baby?  It is a horrible feeling watching everyone around you have babies and you can't.   I just couldn't see it.  Well, we don't always have to wait until later in life to find out why.  In there situation another child would need them.  One that wouldn't be there's but that would need their love and support.  If God had blessed them with their own child earlier, they might have been too busy for this child that so desperately needed them.  I'm happy to report now that they have their own precious bun in the oven. 

A few years back another tragic thing happened.  My best friend suddenly lost her mom.  A little more than a year later she lost her dad.  She now finds herself raising her brother and sister along with her own little one.  She has lost so much.  Here my guilt comes back.  I don't know why, it isn't my fault I know.  But I feel guilty, I feel guilty that I still get to have my parents.  Sometimes when I'm hanging out with my mom, which I'm blessed to get to do alot I hurt for my friend that will never get those times with her mom again.  When I get frustrated with my dad, I start to feel guilty, why am I frustrated with him?  What wouldn't my friend do to have her dad here one more minute, regardless of how frustrating he might be? 

This week I've heard of another devastating situation with another friend.  In this situation I find myself angry.  Angry at myself, angry for letting a relationship fall through the cracks.  We live in the same town, I have facebook and texting.  Why are we only talking because once again tragedy has struck.  I'm feeling sorry, sorry that I can't change it, I can't help fix it.  And once again I'm feeling guilty.  Guilty that my life seems so good compared to this.  I'm so blessed.  I have a huge family that loves my crazy, abnoxious, sometimes very grumpy self.  My life isn't perfect but I don't need a thing.  I'm hurting for this friend.  I want to help.  All I can do is pray.  Seems like something so insignificant ( I know it isn't, just being real here).  Seems like a cop out to say I'm praying for you.  I really am but can she tell.  Does it give her peace?  Does it take away all her questions?  Does it give her answers?  I doubt it, I know she is full of questions, she is full of hurt.  My heart is broken for her.  Why, God, Why? 

I don't have the answer but I know someone who does.  I don't know how he will work this out for good but I know something good will come from it eventually.  What I do know it that my God is Great!  He will bring my friend through this tragedy.  I'm praying for you my friend.