Monday, December 5, 2016

I love the holidays!

I love everything about Christmas.  I love the month of November and how our thoughts turn to all we have to be grateful for.  Then we head into the holiday season and its many celebrations.  I love the holiday parties (Relief Society, ward, Alfredo's company, our street, book club).  I love the decorations.  I love the songs and music.  I love the gift giving.  I love giving and receiving Christmas cards.  I love how our thoughts turn so readily to the Savior and to the precious gift of His birth.  I love how our thoughts turn to others and acts of love and service are performed.

This year the Church's Christmas theme is #LIGHTtheWORLD.  Thursday, December 1 was a Worldwide Day of Service and everyone is encouraged to serve for 25 days in 25 ways. There are calendars of ideas of how to serve.  My family is participating by doing small things each day to bless others' lives and to show love to our friends, neighbors and hopefully some strangers as well.  Most of the things we are doing are small, but think of the combined impact and the additional light and love and joy that will be shared with the world if we each do something small to help or brighten another's day.

A few traditions we have:

*One that I love is that I wrap 25 Christmas books up.  Each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, we open and read a Christmas book.  Some are silly and fun, some are true stories, and some are about the birth of our Savior.  I love reading these books with my children.  We have quite a collection and we reread some of them each year...but I also check out several (this year many) books from the public library so that we have a mix of old and new books to read.

*Each year we decorate gingerbread houses.  This year we are doing gingerbread trains.  Honestly, I detest this.  I find it frustrating because I must be the worst gingerbread house maker in the world.  But my kids love it and I try to hold my frustration in so that it is an enjoyable experience for them.

*I love decorating the house during the Thanksgiving weekend.  I love pulling out our nativities and Christmas trees and spending time together as we listen to Christmas music and decorate.  I especially love our nativities and that they help remind us of Christ!

Gabby made this cute snowman at her friend Gracie's birthday party!  And doesn't she look pretty in her Christmas dress in front of the tree!

*Most years we pick a family to give small gifts for the 12 Days of Christmas.  We have been the blessed recipients of this fun act of service several years ago...and we happily enjoy the opportunity to "pay it forward."  We also try to find other ways to serve throughout the season.

*On Christmas Eve, we light luminaries and read Luke 2.  Then we spend time with Alfredo's family and participate in traditions with them.

*Most years we go to Temple Square to see the lights.  It's cold but beautiful.  We also usually drive around to see Christmas lights in different neighborhoods.

I love this time of year!

12/28 Edited to add:
Some of our favorite Christmas books new to us this year:

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou
The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park
The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda
Who Built the Stable?  A Nativity Poem by Ashley Bryan
Silver Packages:  An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant