Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Traditions for Keeping Christ in Christmas

(I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: EquippingCatholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries on the 20th Dec.)

1. On the First Day of Advent, the first thing to go up in the Hazard home is the Advent Wreath. We use the very same one we’ve had since we got married, probably till it falls apart.  It is our favorite tradition.

2. Scripture Calendar.   We have a countdown calendar with scripture readings for every day.  Do we actually read it for every day we open the flaps?  Mostly, the flaps get ahead of scripture.

3. Nativity Set.  Every Advent, without fail, our mischievous little elves dip their fingers into our set.  The first year, one elf swooped in on the wise men and sent his head rolling into who knows where.  Following year, we opted for a more durable set and displayed the Little People plastic ones. An elf replaced the angel with a donkey and  last year, some elves generously donated their doll house furniture to spruce up Jesus’ wooden manger. 

Update: Now that they're older, our nativity set has an empty manger for Advent.  For each good deed, we can place a straw on Jesus' crib so that Our Savior won't be too uncomfortable when He is born. We will place baby Jesus on Christmas Day!

4.  Nativity sugar cookies.  No kidding.  We have the Holy family, donkey, shepherds, wise men cookie molds.  The first time we baked cookies, my then three year old swiped Joseph’s foot batter and declared, “Mmm.  St. Joseph, you're yummy.  Everybody, you look yummy.”

5.  Christmas Tree. Our tree bottom half hasn’t been decorated in glass ornaments since the first Hazard little arms learned to grasp and tug.  But we don’t worry about it. There are interior decorators in the house. Few years back, designer made a statement on our tree with a pink plastic clothes hanger, next it was a baby’s bib and this year:  a left-over Halloween spider.  I think we will upgrade to a Jesse tree next year.  Update: we still haven't mustered the energy or foresight this year. 

6.   Confession, Daily Mass, Adoration. Not strictly a Christmas tradition, because we do this over the year regularly, but I wanted to share this: When I went to confession last week, my favorite lawyer-turned-priest gave me penance to make or do something special for someone special instead of buying into the materialism.  Great idea, I thought.  It would be my pleasure to whip up some dark and white chocolate peppermint barks for the homeschooling moms’ annual dirty santa/ white elephant gift exchange …and help myself to some samples along the way.  (Maybe I could even maneuver to wind up with that present myself.)

Update:  We're making Chocolate Covered Peppermint oreos as presents this year.  Trader Joe's sells them, but homemade ones beat all.  Recipe:  Melt 2 cups of dark chocolate chips with 1/4 cup butter.  Dip Winter Oreos and smooth chocolate over the cookie.  Lay on wax paper and freeze for thirty minutes.  Enjoy! 

7.  So taking Fr. Jacob’s advice a step further, we’re on a Commercialism Ban. Since our immediate families don’t live close, my husband and I agreed to skip the mall shopping-post office hassle and do the 54 day rosary novena for them… for Jesus to be born in their hearts in a more meaningful, profound way. 

8. Charity.  Our local nursing home is officially going to be part of our Christmases for as long as they welcome us.  Last year, the girls and some of their friends sang Christmas carols for the residents and brought some stuffed animals, which are popular items.  This year, the girls made cards, handed them out and visited with the residents.  (I don’t jump on the Christmas card frenzy for a bazillion of sloth-related excuses but mainly, I prefer to just make lots of phone calls and skype chat on Christmas day.)

9.  Self-denial. I’ve given up all of my social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, minimal blogging) for the whole of Advent to keep my heart clutter-free, ready and reflective to welcome Our Lord and Savior.   UpdateBeing pregnant, I can't fast on bread and water but I'm giving sweets for the weekends.  Good luck to me! 

10.  Pro-life Presents. 

Diapers for Christmas presents?!? Oh yes, the local pro-life center always needs them for the new moms who come in and “shop” their baby boutique for free.  I consider this part of Holiday tradition a baby shower for Jesus.

11.  Candles. My girlfriend asked all her girlfriends for this special present, so the idea isn’t mine.  She asked for one candle to be lit for every Sunday of Advent with specific intentions for each week:  for the youth, for families, for conversions… Four candles at Church.   I hope she does this again next year or maybe we’ll put this on our wish list.

12.   Birthday cake. Every year, a home-made birthday cake for Jesus, singing Happy Birthday, blowing out candles and making wishes for all to know Him, love Him and serve Him. The very least we can do for our true love on Christmas Day.


Please visit for the list of blog links.  My page got messed up when I pasted the list and I'm still trying to fix it.


8 kids and a business said...

What a beautiful way to live the Advent season. Thank, Annabelle. said...

I love it!! and can't wait to feature it in Words of Wisdom tomorrow. These are awesome activities to do throughout the whole Christmas season - thanks so much!

Lena said...

lovely traditions - ALL FOR!!

Cym Marzan said...

This post made me smile! Your nativity set is so cute! Sharing diapers is a wonderful idea, especially deciding that it's a baby shower for Jesus. :-)

melaniejeanjuneau said...

so creative and joyful- to signs of the finger of God!

Nancy Shuman said...

You have given me some really terrific ideas! Thank you for sharing such a delightful, helpful post. I identified with the lost nativity pieces (I too have a children's set). We're still missing a wise man and a camel who wandered off last year, but after reading this, I've decided that a dollhouse dad could be made to look very wise indeed...

Cheryl said...

Visiting from the Keeping Christ in Christmas Carnival...

Your comments about how the elves visited your Nativity set had me chuckling! I love that idea--a great way to tie in the secular Elf on the Shelf with the Nativity set. I think I'll be doing some of these things too, and I know my daughter will love them!

Happy Advent to you!


Tiffany said...

Self-denial! Love it! I never thought of that, it's an obvious under taking for lent but what a wonderful way to glorify Christ at a time that is so often over indulgent! Also I think I just might start up an annual Christmas baby shower for our local pregnancy help center! Thank you for the post!

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I have so enjoyed this blog carnival, visiting your sites with your original ideas and getting to know and discover wonderful blogs.

melaniejeanjuneau said...

The more I think about it, the more I think I MUST quote your titlebrcause it startled me, stopped me in mid stride. It is simple but powerful balanced by touch of whimsy

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez said...

Hi Anabelle! :) So sorry for the late comment. Thank you SO much for joining the carnival! :) I LOVED reading your post — got some great ideas to try next year! Thank you for the reminder of how to keep Christ in Christmas! :) God bless always!