Nothing was cuter than watching a 16 year old grab that little slip of paper revealing the day’s activity.  First stop in the kitchen before heading out to school. Never too old for this family tradition.  It was December.  The countdown was on until the 25th.  And ever since our boys could remember, we celebrated Advent with daily family activities.

It was easy when they were little.

Color a page and send it to Grandma.  

Assemble a countdown chain out of construction paper.  

Or take treats to the neighbors.  

The challenge came as they grew.  Thrilled they never wanted to stop the tradition, I admit it got a little more expensive with age.

There were surprises like tickets to IRT’s Christmas Carol or Yule Tide on the Circle. Even an occasional steak dinner or trip to the mall were on the agenda.

Some of our favorites had no age restrictions. There was nothing more fun than a romping game of hide ‘n seek.  I can still remember the screeches of joy having found Dad in some of the most unusual places!  They even loved roasting hot dogs around the fire place.  A picnic on the floor without the ants.

Then there were my mom’s famous gingerbread cookies. The aroma fills our senses every year, taking us back to Christmases long ago.  A recipe handed down from Grandma. Swedish “peppar kakar.” Spending time rolling the dough and cutting out shapes has been part of our family for years.  A birthday cake for Jesus, decorated and ready for candles.  Singing Jesus a Happy Birthday song.  Even Swedish meatballs. Chiming Angel Candles for the table.  And Gingerbread Houses. Traditions.  Things that are the same every year.  You can depend on them like clockwork.

That’s what traditions are all about. Giving your children memories that will last a life time.  For some reason, it adds stability to their lives. The real treat comes when you watch them introduce those same traditions to their own children.  An Advent Calendar has become the highlight of our grandchildren’s December ever since they can remember.  And already our younger son and his wife are looking forward to the day they start these same traditions.

Christmas is all about Jesus.  The King who became a baby. It’s a beautiful time of year when we concentrate on Him.  God instituted festivals of remembrance in the Old Testament.  He told the Israelites to be joyful as they celebrated with their children.  It’s good to remember and celebrate what He has done!  Good food, gifts, and special activities are part of the festivities. Spending concentrated time with the kids as they await December 25th is priceless.  Don’t miss the joy of traditions. Reinvent some from your past. Or create new ones. You’ll never regret you did especially when you watch your adult children continue what you started.

Merry Christmas everyone.  And happy traditioning.

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