I recently tried an experiment with my kids. During a family dinner I asked them to tell me about the Christmas presents they received last year. The kids - all 6 of them - drew a blank. They looked at me and then at one another, and panic appeared in their eyes.
"Ok," I said, "what do you remember?"
Their faces lit up.
"Our gingerbread house competition!"
"Baking cookies and caroling," EJ and Sean cried out.
The conversation that followed was on I'll always remember. We talked about our favorite family traditions. Every year our kids form teams of two and decorate gingerbread houses. EAch team is awarded a prize - something like "Most Creative," "Best Effort," and so forth. We play Christmas music, laugh a lot, and take a ton of pictures. The gingerbread houses remain a part of our Christmas decorations for the entire season.
We also love baking our favorite Christmas cookies, placing them on decorative trays, and delivering them to friends and family. We wear Christmas hats and bring along others who want to join us. Then we stand at front doors and sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and "Deck the Halls." Sometimes my husband, Don, brings his guitar. It's always a wonderful night.
In addition, we have an old fashioned wooden Advent calendar - complete with little compartments and tiny painted wooden doors. We fill the 24 hiding places with Scripture verses, notes detailing a kind thing that one child can do for another child in the family, and candy. Each of the kids opens four doors throughout the month of December. We also read aloud The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever, and we have a handful of Christmas movies we watch. Family traditions are a great way to take Christmas slowly and make the days count.