Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Keeping Spirits Bright: Our {5 Favorite} Merry Christmas Traditions

After hosting my entire family for several days during the Thanksgiving holiday, I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for the sudden entrance into Advent.  Usually, I have a few days of cushion between Thanksgiving and Advent to prepare all of the little seasonal inspirations - the Jesse Tree, the Advent wreath and calendar, our book basket and St. Nicholas activities. Thankfully, so many of our family traditions are becoming just that - rock solid TRADITIONS, and the older boys especially have reached the point of knowing just how to help make all of the preparations, unlike cleaning the house and roasting a turkey (one of these days!).  While I'm in hostess recovery therapy, otherwise known as HRC, I'll let the testosterone run wild with Adventus abandon.  I have complete confidence in their decorating skills (as long as I'm a non-conscious state).

For today's Five Favorites (graciously hosted by Hallie at Moxie Wife), I thought I'd share a few of our favorite Advent and Christmas "extras," aside from the faith-based traditions, that really help keep the season bright for all of us around here.
- 1.  Music -
Words cannot express how much I LOVE listening to music during Christmas. No two sweeter words were ever put together than Pandora and FREE.  We like to mix it up, a little Michael Buble here, a dash of George Winston there.  But for me, it's all about finding the perfect song with the perfect lyrics, something fresh, poetic, inspiring and memorable to savor throughout the season.  

Last year, my great discovery was Leaving Heaven, sung by Matthew West and Vince Gill.  Oh, Vince, Vince, Vince, Vince.  Let me count the ways I love thee. The guy is a musical genius.  I savor his solo work, but must admit that I get a little giddy when he sneaks in on a duet. His voice is like butter, it blends with with everyone so beautifully, making musical yumminess.  He can even make Taylor Swift sound like a singer. {Sorry!} fave line of this song?
So, if you've ever wondered how much you're worth,
You should know....
You're the reason why I'm leaving heaven.

 - 2.  Special Sips  -
It wasn't until a few years ago that I really embraced the truth that Advent, like Lent, is also a time of preparation.  Therefore, the Church really encourages us to consider particular spiritual exercises, such as fasting, prayer and sacrificial offerings, in order that our souls might be strengthened for what is to come: the arrival of our Savior into the world.  

I'll be the first to admit that it's easier to fast during Lent than during Advent.  Who can pass up the plates of cookies, cakes and sweet breads that the neighbors bring by??  While we make a strong effort to scale back the irresistible indulgences, Steve and I realize that this particular sacrifice is meant more for our good than the children's.  One of our traditional treats during this season is to drive around and enjoy all of the beautiful lights and then come home to savor a special cup of cocoa.  I like to jazz it up a bit, and make something unexpected for the family each year. A few days ago,  in my quest for the perfect cup, I found this amazing list of recipes on Pinterest.

3.  Movies 
Confession: I have a serious thing for the Hallmark Countdown to Christmas Movie series.  I know, I know many of them are a little cheesy, and definitely predictable, but hey, I get a lot of laundry done in the evenings with all of the cheese and sentiment and predictability to distract me from the agony of matchless socks. As for the kids, they would probably be scarred for life if we didn't watch It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas every year.  They can pretty much quote both shows word for word.
This year I'm hoping to break away from my domestic delights and escape to the theatre to see The Christmas Candle.  Have any of you seen it?? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Sideways? Your thoughts, please!

- 4.  Tour of Lights -
As a child, one of the most treasured traditions I delighted in during Christmas was bundling up and piling into the car with my family for an evening drive to see the Christmas lights around town. Now, I love sharing that same experience with our kids.  Last night we took the kiddos out to experience the Illuminations Exhibit at the Botanica Gardens.  It was absolutely stunning!! We had a ball!!

- 5.  Great Books Around the Fireplace -
If you've passed by the blog over the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed that I'm a little bit book obsessed, especially when it comes to great Christmas reads.  Is it shameful to admit that our basket is overflowing with approximately 42.5 stories?? The inventory would probably be closer to 50, but unfortunately 7.5 books have been shredded over the past 12 years since my blissful delivery of 5 mini wrecking balls into our home. Every year I add a title or two to our basket, and this year the kids are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Christmas From Heaven to our doorstep.

What are your favorite family traditions??

1 comment:

  1. I hope that you have recovered from your hosting duties and are ready for December!! I want to see that movie, too - I rarely go to movies in the theater these days though.
    My favorite thing right now is having all the Christmas lights on during days like today that are all gloomy.


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