These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)
When our young families gathered outside to celebrate the start of Advent last Sunday, I invited each family to share one of their favorite Christmas traditions. Responses ranged from making family recipes to driving around Naples to see all the amazing holiday decorations and Christmas lights.
We have a family tradition that started almost 30 years ago. Early one Christmas Eve, I stole a few minutes alone in front of the Christmas tree to savor its magic. Two presents lay under the tree, ready to relieve our children of the endless days of waiting. And tucked away in a drawer was a new ornament for each of them to hang on the tree.
As I sat soaking in the silence, I was inspired to hide the ornaments around the living room for the children to find and to put the presents inside an empty holiday popcorn tin that had our last name painted on the lid. I saw a small Beanie Baby mouse wearing a Santa hat nearby and decided to place it on the top of the can. Minutes later I heard the pitter patter of little feet coming down the stairs. After the ornaments were found and presents unwrapped, my children asked, “Who did this?” My unprepared answer was “The Christmas Mouse.”
I had no idea that I had just created a tradition that would evolve and grow to mean so much to our family year after year. Searching for their ornament and discovering what was inside the Christmas Mouse tin on Christmas Eve, was something our children could always count on and look forward to, regardless of the twists and turns our family life had taken during the year.
If health and travel permit, this Christmas will be the first one we have shared with our grown children in four years. With the addition of a new son-in-law and daughter-in-law, I’ve decided to pass the Christmas Mouse tradition on down to the next generation. Waiting for each couple in our Naples living room will be their own popcorn tin with their last name painted on the lid.
No matter what your family tradition is or what your family chooses to create, just having something for all family members to look forward to each year is important. Those memories will live on for generations to come.
Director of Children’s Ministry
Families looking for creative ways to celebrate Christmas together
Dear God, as we prepare our hearts and homes for the birth of Jesus, remind us to simplify our activities and traditions so we focus our celebrations on the gifts of love and service to one another. Thank you for our families, near and far. Inspire us with new ways to celebrate and cherish the joy of being together. Thank you for coming to earth as a baby, bringing life and hope to us all. Amen.
Make a family Holiday Bucket List: Sit everyone down and let each person pick one thing they would like to do (as a family) in December. It could be baking cookies, making a gingerbread house, going for a drive to see the lights, decorating the house or making homemade Christmas cards– whatever they want! Then try to pick dates and schedule the activities so everything on your “holiday bucket list” gets checked off.
Have a Fondue Night (a Noble family favorite!): Grab a fondue pot, oil and prepare chunks of beef, chicken and vegetables. Do not forget your favorite sauces for dipping! If you are not up for all the hot oil and prep work, you could just have chocolate fondue as desert.
Explore Other Cultures: Discover how children in other parts of the world celebrate Christmas.