“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

The Shers during the holidays

Welcome to my contribution to "Holidays at the Cafe." For those of you unfamiliar, the aforementioned Cafe is the Internet Cafe, the devotional blog of Christian Women Online. Each Thursday through the holiday season, various folks will be posting holiday-related blogs (each Thursday has its own theme) for you to enjoy, to help you get in the RIGHT Christmas spirit.

Today's theme is Holiday Traditions & Ideas. Click to see other folks' blogs! We are to post all about our family's traditions and maybe even give some ideas on new traditions for your families. So...here I go!

Holiday traditions...Sure, my family has some. I have to say, though, that as I was thinking about writing this post, I found a not-so-invited guest invading my thoughts. His name is Envy.

I could very easily list the many traditions that I would LOVE to be part of our family, but aren't for one reason or another. The simplest thing for me to do would be to put the word "but" at the end of each item I list.

BUT, I'm not doing that. I am an amazingly, incredibly blessed woman who has absolutely NO reason to allow that "green-eyed monster" to hijack her holidays--especially not this early!

One of the "first," chronologically anyway, traditions in our family is the Christmas tree setup. Actually, it's more a matter of getting the room set up for the Christmas tree. :) You see, ever since we've had children (my oldest is going on 8), our living room has been taken over by...well...toys! So, they have to be "kicked out," so to speak, to make room for the Christmas cheer (by the way, this year we are planning to make this "clean-out" permanent. Pray?). So, over the long Thanksgiving weekend, project one is to dig a way through the toy trenches to make way for decorations. This is done with Christmas music in the background, and is definitely a family project.

Once this is finished, we're ready for a rest--usually with "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in the background. We then set up the Christmas tree and decorations. We have an artificial tree--have since Marc and I first came to Christ just under ten years ago. The kids love to help sort the branches, and stick them in the base, and "puff them out." I generally do the lights, and the kids help with the tinsel and ornaments. We have a couple other Christmas things that go up, including a nativity scene that sets behind the fireplace screen (fireplace is unsafe for "real use."). Once we're all decorated, we simply enjoy the beautiful transformation.

We've done the sticker advent calendars in the past, but this year I picked up an advent calendar/devotional book for families that we're going to try. Hoping it will help us focus on the anticipation of the holiday and help us keep our minds on the Christ child.

As for Christmas itself, we travel to Marc's parents in Jackson, Michigan (about an hour and a half away by car) on Christmas Eve afternoon. We have the traditional Christmas eve potluck/buffet and gift exchange at the home of David (Marc's brother) and his wife Jennifer. All of Marc's family is there (his two brothers and their families--six kids among them--as well as his aunt and uncle and some cousins, and occasionally an unexpected guest). It isn't a particularly religious celebration, but we generally DO pray before eating our meal, and will often play games afterward.

Our little clan will drive back to Marc's folks' house and spend the night - the kids in sleeping bags and Marc and I in a spare bed in the same room. We'll have a brunch of leftovers from the potluck, then head home. Once we have rested from our day, our little family Christmas starts. We talk about the Christmas story, open presents, and crash, for the most part.

Thank you for coming along for a trip through our holiday traditions. I am hoping it blessed you, and that by reading others', our family and yours can pick up some new traditions to add. Blessings to you!


  1. I enjoyed this dear, thanks for sharing.

  2. Sounds great and fun and special, Joanne. Can I come and celebrate with you? ;)

  3. Charlie Brown Christmas? I haven't seen that in so long! Thanks for bringing back memories!

  4. OK, my all time favorite Christmas tradition I do with my kids, and I think it worthy of sharing.

    Advent jars (have I already told you about this?). Anyway,

    Several years ago, I got this idea from an Advent book. I bought each child a beautiful jar with lid (I think I got them at Target). In the jar are 24 slips of paper with special activities/treats. Each child draws a slip of paper from the jar each morning and gets to "do" whatever is listed on the slip of paper.

    For example:

    Stay up an extra half hour.
    Mommy brings you lunch at school.
    Bake cookies.
    Play a family game.
    Dessert of choice., etc.

    There are also several slips that say "draw from the goodie bag"...a bag that contains dollar items or candy. As the boys have grown older, I've moved to mostly goodie bag items because "driving around and look at Christmas lights" just doesn't hold the same appeal.

    With four kids, you can imagine my prep time, but it is worth it. In addition, I thought my college-age son would want to forego tradition when he left last year. Wrong. And while he isn't here for most of the month, when he comes home, he still gets to draw.

    Whew...that nearly wore me out. But such fun. You might want to try it. And by the way, do your kids listen to Adventures in Odyssey from Focus on the Family? We started letting our kids go to sleep with them at a young age and now have all the volumes! Great for family trips, and you will find that the adults love them as much as the kids. Start with the beginning volumes if you can.

    Whew...now I'm really tired!


  5. I adore your traditions. I want to come over and join in!

  6. Hey there....I could do the BUT thing too...BUT I won't:)
    We have done this in the past and I LOVED it when my kiddos were a bit younger....we wrapped a box up (only the lid) or used a stocking...and throughout Advent they wrote in one thing at least they did that day that would be a "gift" to add to the box or stocking....then on Christmas morning we GAVE that gift to the Baby Jesus as we sang Happy Birthday...
    They are too big for this now...but I sure do remember it...gives me tears in my eyes just typing it...We STILL bake a birthday cake for Jesus and eat it Christmas morning! Thanks for sharing Joanne!


  7. "The Charlie Brown Christmas!" OF COURSE Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without it! :-) I'm picturing your livingroom in my mind as ours is quite similar -- TOYS Toys and more TOys!!! Yes, sometimes the current favorite toys are used as ornaments. Yes?
    I do hope you have a blessed and sacred Christmas with dear family. The children's memories will last their entire lives. Make them SO special!
    Kindest Thoughts,

  8. How fun!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I love the Charlie Brown Christmas movie!!! I think I'll have to hook my boys up with that one this year!

  10. I simply love when Linus puts his blanket on his head becoming a shepherd to tell the Christmas story. Now I'll have to look for the video...

    blessings and joy,

  11. Thank you for the reminder to count our blessings instead of letting the green-eyed monster take over where Christ shoud be.

  12. It was so enjoyable reading about your busy tradition days. Thank you for sharing!


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