So, my favorite family tradition that we do at Christmas is our ornament tradition. I heard an idea on the radio once during our first year of marriage that we have followed since – and I love it! The concept is simple:

Fill your tree with memories – not just ornaments. Every year, find an ornament that commemorates something that happened during the year – more specifically, something that God did for you as a family over the year. This way, each year when you unload your ornaments and decorate your tree, you can remember the things God has done for you as a family over the years.

This will be our 7th year Christmas together and hopefully tomorrow we will find our “ornament of the year.”

Here’s what we have for the last 6:

2005: 1st Christmas Together!

2006: Our 1st Home (we purchased a house that year)

”]”]”]”]See the trend? I love snowmen. I’d be perfectly content to decorate my tree with red and silver balls, snowflakes, and snowmen, with all these fun ornaments. Oh wait, that’s more or less what I do!

My goal this year is to start getting Elena her own ornaments. I think this is another great idea – each child gets their own ornament each year and then when they get married or move out on their own, they have their own little start-up to decorate their own trees. I think that’s really a special thing to do and I’m excited to start that with Elena this year, on top of our family ornament.

I am definitely a believer that Christmas should be full of memories, not just rote traditions. I can’t wait to do Advent with Elena. Brian didn’t grow up in a Christian home, so that concept is completely foreign to him. But, I remember my mom had an advent wreath and each night during December when I was little, we’d do something for Advent around the dinner table and we’d all take turns rearranging the nativity set (complete with wooden camels my dad brought home from Israel). Unfortunately, my nativity is still boxed up in the States (how come there is never room for it?!).

the nativity that's packed safely away in PA

I would love to get one like this:

Just a simple, plush set that Elena could play with and rearrange without fear of breaking and then have the nice one set up somewhere as more of a decoration.

I have so many ideas for Christmases future! I have to keep reminding myself to live the Christmas now and enjoy this time with Elena. She doesn’t quite understand (naturally), but she does know she loves the Christmas tree and makes sure everyone who comes into the house looks at it. She goes over to them and points at the tree and goes, “OOO!!!” until they acknowledge the pretty tree in the corner. She’s doing really well and not playing with it. I can’t wait to see her expression Christmas morning when we put all the packages underneath!

And for your viewing pleasure… Fred the Snowman we gave to friends when we left SD. This was the only light-up thing outside our house – it wasn’t tacky or large or obnoxious – it was just right. Ah, Fred. I still miss you. You’re even covered in beautiful Christmas snow. sigh.