Here are a few things we have done over the years to celebrate Christmas...
On Christmas Eve, our family usually goes out for an early dinner around 4:00pm (there have been times when we just had a special dinner at home). Most years we invite another family to join us to celebrate the evening. After dinner we go to the 6:00 Love Feast service. After the service our family goes home for the kids to open one small gift which is usually pajamas, house shoes or something fun for the kids to do that evening.
Occasionally my extended family will come for Christmas. Last year, my mom and dad were here and they gave each of the kids a new Bible for Christmas. My husband, Steve, did something very special... he asked my dad to pray a special blessing over the kids. He had the kids get on their knees in front of them and my dad laid his hands on them and said a prayer of blessing for each of them. Although it was a little awkward for the kids, it was a very precious moment for me and I pray that our kids will always be grateful and remember their Christian heritage.
One of our annual traditions -- that I routinely vow to start earlier on or not do the following year -- is our family Christmas letter. In the beginning I would do a separate letter for family and friends, church staff, and youth workers. That idea quickly dissolved after a few years -- especially after we moved a few times and our mailing list grew -- and it has become one compiled letter for the masses. My current mailing list is more than 200 recipients... so now that the kids are older we have brought them in to help with the assembly. It has been written using different themes... simple holiday greetings from our house to yours, more elaborate letters including a page of pictures, a year of firsts for our family, special memories of the previous year, a letter written by our kids, and then there was that one year ... when I had a great idea of writing about the "Twelve Months before Christmas," which included pictures. It ended up being five pages long!!! Can you imagine us printing and stapling 1,000 pages, not to mention addressing and stamping all those letters? After that year, we have gone to one page letters and one Christmas card photo. Seriously, the annual letters have really become a highlight for our family (now having to be approved by our three teenagers before sending out) as they record a little family history about each year. We've been told by family and friends that we don't see often that they love keeping up with our family through our Christmas letter.
Photography by Heather for this post...