A new tradition

I'm really big on traditions. There's just something about doing the same thing, year after year, that is so comforting. And there's a part of me that is always on the hunt for a new family tradition.

There are a few traditions we have implemented over the years that I love, like the birthday letters Mark and I write to our children, and our Thanksgiving journal.

The holidays bring along a whole other set of traditions amongst ourselves, family, and friends. To name a few:

A number of years ago my sister-in-law had the idea to skip the traditional Christmas dinner and make homemade pizza instead for our Christmas Eve gathering. At first I balked at this idea (I like tradition, after all- and the ham and potatoes were hard for me to give up, since "that's the way it's always been!"); but oh, how I enjoy this new tradition. Each year everyone brings meat, 2 lbs of mozerella cheese, and two additional toppings for pizzas, and all of the girls (my husband's only sister and all of his brothers' wives) gather in the kitchen to make homemade pizza. (This year we tried a Thai pizza and a cream cheese/pesto/chicken pizza-- both huge hits.) And this year my mother-in-law surprised us with matching aprons to don for the annual event.

Early Christmas morning you'll find our entire family, in pajamas, gathered on our bed to open our stockings. That has become a tradition.

Later Christmas morning, we all head to my parents' house and my dad makes us a huge Christmas breakfast. Another tradition.

This year I read about something, we planned for it and tried it, and loved it. It is something we now plan to do every year when our family gathers to celebrate Christmas.

I first read of it here. Ann from Holy Experience was a guest blogger at javadawn's towards the end of October. Ann wrote:

Um…..do you ever think we sort of horn in on Jesus’ birthday? I mean–whose birthday is it anyways? How can we give gifts to Jesus? There are, gloriously, a multitude of ways. We reflect on his own words; Jesus says when we give to the “least of these” we give to Him. So, one option, is to give gifts to our blessed Saviour by giving to those who are needy through charity gift catalogues.

Ann's suggestion was to collect gift catalogs from organizations like World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, and to give.

When our catalogs arrived, we explained to our children that one of the things we were going to do for Christmas was to get gifts for those who have so little when we have so much. Then throughout the advent season, we had the catalogs available for our children to peruse. Many of Ella's quiet time hours were spent with her little blonde head bent low over the Samaritan's Purse catalog. She would say, "Mommy, this picture has a sweet little baby and someone is feeding her some milk. And it says nine next to it." (As in $9). Or, "Mommy, what's this one? It shows a little boy. He looks sad. Let's help him."

Mark and I had decided to give each of our children a dollar amount to spend. A gift for them to in turn spend on others. So one of my errands prior to Christmas brought me to the bank, where I withdrew a bunch of one-dollar bills. Then, when our family gathered, our final gifts of the day were those bundles of one-dollar bills for our children. We brought the catalog out, and encouraged them to spend their money. Having the dollar bills was great. They were able to see an item's dollar amount, and then count out the necessary money for that item. We made a list of all the things they'd chosen. When they each got down to their last few dollars, we encouraged them to pool their money to get something together.

Here are some of the gifts they chose to give:

warm blankets ($6)
food for a hungry baby for a week ($9)
one month's tuition for a child to go to school ($15)
gospel storybooks ($5 for 20 books)
milk; a week's worth ($4)
a dozen baby chicks ($10)
Bible lessons for children ($10)
clothing ($15)
hot meals; a week's worth ($7)

*all of these items were from the Samaritan's Purse Christmas gift catalog.

Can you believe all you can give, for so little?

Then we all bowed our heads and Mark led our family in prayer. He asked God to multiply the gifts we'd given (that those baby chicks would grow to be good egg-layers and may end up being a source of income for that family, etc). We asked for His favor upon the needy ones who would be the recipients of our gifts.

So, there it is. Our new tradition. And it is one of the things I will most look forward to each year.

1 comment:

  1. Dec. 31, 2006 - Thanks
    Posted by Mark
    Thanks, Stacy, for bringing this new tradition to our family. I really enjoyed giving in this way, and I am excited that this will be a part of Christmas for our children.

    Also, thanks so much for that fine Steelers jersey you gave me for Christmas. Maybe this will be yet another tradition?

    Loving you,


    Jan. 1, 2007 - Great idea!
    Posted by Sandi
    I am going to mention this to my dh. Our kids do not really need anything. And they have grandparents that always give them gifts. I want to help at a soup kitchen when the kids are older but this is something we can do even at 6 and 3 years old. It is something tangible for a little mind and heart to wrap around.

    A Mother's Musings


    Jan. 1, 2007 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Rebeca
    Sounds like you've had some wonderful times. Traditions are special, and it's fun to create new ones together. I didn't know Samaritan's Purse did a gift catalog like that- thanks for letting me know!
    Blessed and Happy New Year!


    Jan. 2, 2007 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Michelle
    What fun traditions!! We have always tried to incorporate some time of "giving" activity...but I love the idea of actually giving the kids real money to spend!

    Cute aprons, too!


    Jan. 4, 2007 - Gift Catalogs
    Posted by momco3
    Stacy, Thanks for this! Several years ago, I was invited to no less than 14 "gift" parties in which I was solicited to buy baskets, candles, tupperware, etc. So our small group at church got together and had a party for our friends, but instead we invited them to peruse the World Vision and World Relief gift catalogs and consider giving these gifts in honor of their friends. I think people were very skeptical about it, but after our brief presentations (we shared how these gifts were changing our lives-- especially our perspective on Christmas-- and how much of the money given to each charity went toward overhead v. actually helping the recipients) people were very moved to give. This Christmas we got notes from folks who were at that party to tell us they were still doing it. Praise God! Thanks for this idea for how to implement it with our kids.


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