Each year I go through a Christmas debrief. This is a part of my wanting Christmas to be a significant celebration in our family – not caught up with the commercialism and tradition just because that is what you do, but rather to intentionally make our own traditions and to be true to our family. You can read more about a Christmas debrief on my website. This year I was very aware that our kids have grown up and as an older family we needed to look at how we celebrated Christmas. (I wrote about this in my weekly newsletter before Christmas.) Though we have firmly established the ‘why’ we didn’t want to become blasé about Jesus, and at the same time we wanted to recognise that this is also a fun family time. We brainstormed as a family and these are the activities that happened over December this year.
- Christmas Carols – The local carols by candlelight is hosted by the combined churches, Joshua was on the committee this year, though not here for the event. We enjoy this evening out under the stars (well it was heavily cloudy so we prayed for the rain to hold off and it did!) It is a night to catch up with many people from the community.
- Kids Christmas Party – Jess organised a Christmas party and movie night as a gift for a few families we know in town. The idea was that while the kids were here having a fun time with our 4 big kids, the parents would have some kid-free time in the afternoon, and also time for a dinner date together before picking up the kids. Jess organised the invite, the kids all helped out with the party and I was on pizza-duty!
- Neighbour’s gifts – One afternoon Peter and I went on a drive around our neighbourhood (we live in a farming neighbourhood, so it was a drive up one road!) and gave a little home baking gift to those who were at home! We left one at the door with a note. The last delivery invited us in for a cuppa and visit which was a great way to finish off our visiting.
- Ladies Christmas dessert – I invited all the Christian ladies of the town – across the churches – to come to a dessert night. Twenty-five came, so it was a very noisy evening as we chatted with each other and ate Christmas treats. At the end of the evening we had a little Christmas trivia quiz and shared a Christmas tradition or memory with each other.
- Tree decorating night and movie – When our kids were young we used to have a tree-decking party and everyone helped decorate the tree, these days though we just do it ourselves. We crank up the music and have a zany time together. We are getting pretty efficient at this so we had a movie afterwards.
- Girls Pamper and movie afternoon – The cut off time for all preparations is early afternoon Christmas eve – at that time the girls sit and watch a movie and do their nails. Our plans didn’t quite go according to plan and we were running a bit late but we managed to squeeze in “White Christmas” and do our nails.
- Christmas Eve movie – once the girls movie was over, we got dinner ready and sat down to watch another movie!! This time something the whole family will enjoy; this year we watched (again) Christmas with a Capital C, a movie we really enjoy and one that helps us stand up for celebrating Jesus.
- Stockings and decorated table – once the kids go to bed, then the fun begins. Since we wait up to help Santa fill the stockings, I use this time to decorate the dining room – the girls help me with a lot of decorations etc for Christmas but this is my little project and surprise for them – this year was very low key though as when I went to put my plans into place I had missed some key factors and my grand-scheme wasn’t going to work! Since we can’t always wait up for as long as it takes for them to go to sleep, we let Santa come early, and leave their stockings on their desks not the foot of their bed, which would happen if they went to sleep early enough!!
- Family Breakfast / lunch – Breakfast and lunch are our family times. Breakfast is up at the table with croissants and lunch is on the lounge room floor with finger food, mainly prawns, as we continue to open presents and enjoy each other.
- Church on Christmas day – we go to church Christmas morning, and take enough milk for a cuppa for anyone who wants it and a friend brought along some Christmas cake. Most people want to get home for lunch but some like to linger.
- Open house Christmas night – For many years now we have had an open house on Christmas night, inviting anyone who doesn’t want to be home by themselves on Christmas night. People bring food to share and we have a great time – though it is a full house, cause outside is generally muggy and with insects!
- Boxing Day: Boxing day is all about cricket in Australia (The Boxing Day Test match). This year we have found a great solution… Cricket for the boys, Ladies day for the girls! Several families gathered together – boys at one house and girls at our house. The boys watched cricket – the girls watched a few movies, chatted together and kept their hands busy with various projects – and of course ate some great food!
We didn’t get to read a family read aloud (Tabitha’s Journey) neither were we very consistent with devotions. I’ll need to think this aspect through for next year – life was too inconsistent with people going hither and tither – we need to work out what works for a grown up family with different outside the home commitments.
What we’ll add to our celebrations next year
- Christmas Shoeboxes
- Christmas markets (we were out of town this year) – this is a community event.
Things I want to remember for next year:
- Start making any gifts I want to make October at the latest
- Start baking – and freezing – in November
- Plan a gift of service / love in November to put into action in December
- Visit our neighbours the week before, late afternoons work well, but do it over a few days not all at once.
- Think about how to focus our hearts as adults and adult-children
- Try and buy Dickens Christmas Carol before August next year – as it always seems to run out of stock!