December 19, 2013 by

This year, I decided to ask my kids what their favorite holiday traditions were. I was shocked when neither of them said “presents.”

Max: “Movies and our countdown calendar.”

Lucy: “I like our wooden Christmas tree.”

So, there it is. Those are some of our favorite holiday traditions. I was surprised my kids liked the wooden Christmas tree that was passed down to me from my aunt. I was using it as an extra the first year we had it. By the next year, the kids were asking if we could ditch the traditional fake tree and just use the wooden one. So now, we adorn a wooden tree. The kids take pride in it, and I don’t get poked by needles setting it up. We all win.

Each year, I also set up what I like to refer to as the secular countdown calendar. They get a little white bag for each day of December, counting down until Christmas morning. Each bag is filled with two Hershey’s Kisses and either a note, activity to do that day, or a little gift. Some of our countdown calendar ideas are: holiday socks, ornaments, a holiday movie, and at least two community service activities.

Another favorite in our house is watching holiday movies. A Christmas Story is not just a 24-hour Christmas Eve favorite. We watch it year-round over here. I’m the proud owner of two leg lamps (one full size that indeed does pose a glow of amber in our front window, and a mini-size one that I keep for comfort in my office year-round). And thanks to losing a bet with my sister, I also own a bunny suit.

Our celebration of actual Christmas in our faith is a beautiful and quiet one at church. All the secular stuff we choose to participate in, well, that’s fun, too. My husband and I try to help the kids understand the difference between “Christmas” traditions and “holiday” traditions. And then we embrace it all and run with it.

No matter what, don’t beat yourself up so much on whether or not you’re exploiting your faith. Chances are, the presents, the overeating, the leg lamp, well…it all brings family and friends closer together. And no matter which holiday you’re celebrating, community and family are part of your faith—I guarantee it.

Max hustles out the Christmas storage stuff: “Hey, Mom. This year, can we leave the leg lamp in the window all year?” Still not a word about getting presents. So I’m considering his request.

Happy Holidays!

Read more of Murrell’s stories at momontherocks.com.

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