My thoughts then moved to what traditions or customs dh and I were creating for our kids and specifically in relation to Christmas, this being such a special time to us Christians.
The one thing that dominated my thoughts was that each year we enter a decorated tree to the local church Christmas tree festival. This festival normally includes between 60- 120 trees all decorated by different families, organisations, faith groups, charities, schools etc. Here are a few photos of some of the entries our family has been involved with over the years -
Baby's First Christmas, when JJ was 3 months old in 2003
Winter Wonderland - 2004 when I was Chair of the toddler group
'Merry Christmas Choo Choo You' - 2006, JJ did a Thomas the Tank Engine themed tree. Sadly I can not find a photo of this.
What are little girls made of? 'Sugar and Spice and Twins are Twice As Nice' - 2008. This was the first time JJ was big enough to help make decorations and to really take a lead on what the family did for a tree. It was a sweet tree dedicated to his sisters.
This year we are working to the theme 'Let It Snow' and the children are avidly making decorations and all three of them will be there to help me decorate the tree before the festival starts. Then of course we will visit the festival and as dh is a Scouter we will also be manning stalls and helping with the refreshments.
I love the fact that this is something unique, special and free that our family do together each year. It helps the children to think about something other than the presents they will get. I do get annoyed with the way the UK seems to have gone, turning Christmas into a farce that is all about money and receiving things. Don't you think this is a lovely tradition our family is building together? This for dh, JJ and me (the girls are a bit young yet) signals the start of the festive season and from this first weekend in December it is then go go go for Christmas...
Talking about Christmas, it is good to remember that the focus should be on giving and the joy that is experienced in this selfless act. Have you started to think about presents for family and Friends as yet? What about giving a gift which helps those who really need it? This year Oxfam Unwrapped have some amazing gifts on offer and I really like the way that the website allows you to choose gifts by the type of person you are buying for, ie: kids, gardener, foodie etc
One of the gifts that I would like to be sending this year is the Education for all gift.
This is what Oxfam Unwrapped say about it -This classy gift pushes politicians and communities to make education available to all, right now. It makes sure governments supply and train teachers. Build classrooms. Pay for books and desks. So that every child and every adult gets the schooling they deserve. So go on, help teach leaders a lesson or two.
The gift is just £15 and imagine how stoked you would be to know that your gift helped to ensure that children across the world were able to access essential education thanks to your Christmas present.
If this gift does not tickle your fancy then go over to Oxfam Unwrapped and have a look at the large selection there or why not visit the Simplify Your Christmas Carnival hosted at Who's The Mummy? on Monday 22nd November 2010. You will find links to dozens of posts from bloggers like myself who have posted about something you can do to simplify your Christmas this year.
So tell me, what traditions do you and your family have at Christmas time?