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What Christmas traditions do your family observe? For me (Kim) growing up we always watched “Carols by Candlelight” on Christmas eve. We always opened our presents first thing on Christmas morning. Lunch was usually the big meal and the rest of the day was spent enjoying our presents and our family.

In recent years, and perhaps especially since we have been away from our families for the Christmas season, we have started thinking about what traditions we can observe to make this time special and keep the focus upon Jesus. So this year we tried a few new things…

Advent

Advent is the four week period leading up to Christmas and is celebrated in many churches around the world. It highlights the importance of the birth of Jesus and focuses upon the idea of waiting. We began some advent traditions this year. We used a fabric advent calendar each night with Sam which created a visual picture of the nativity. He still asks for it now each night before bed. But for him (aged 2) it helped him learn who the characters are in the Christmas story. Angel, Bubba Jesus, Mary and JoJo (Joseph) could all be named. The shepherds and wise men could be identified… but couldn’t quite his tongue around them yet.

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I also downloaded a series of daily reading for the advent season which included scripture verses to read each day. We also followed the church tradition of lighting a candle on each Sunday of advent, and an extra one on Christmas day. Sam loved blowing the candles out (an incentive for him to eat his dinner!) and we enjoyed the extra reflection upon our Saviour’s birth.

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The nativity

I have a Willow tree nativity set that I have loved for many years. I love the simplicity of the figures and the visual reminder of Christ’s birth in our home. Sam found this very appealing too, and so it wasn’t long before we needed one for him too. Mum’s is too precious for two year old fingers! My Mum was able to find us a Little People Nativity set which made it here in the post in record time. Sam spent hours playing with this. There were animals to feed and people to move around. It was another way for him to learn about the characters of the Christmas story.

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Christmas books

I have been doing lots of reading about Christmas traditions on Pintrest. One of my favourite ideas was having a pile of Christmas books, that you wrap up and as a family you read one each night together. We have one or two Christmas books, but certainly not enough to read one every day. So I bought four new books this year for us to enjoy and plan to add to the collection each year. “Wombat Divine” and “The Berenstein Bears Christmas” were the favourite two this year. Sam would often collect the relevant characters from the nativity set as we read about them in a story. Made the story a lot longer but it was very cute!

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2

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