Sunday, December 15, 2013

Starting Christmas Traditions

In living the missionary (in training) life these past few years, we have spent most of our Christmases several hours away from our home. Because of this, we've just celebrated Christmas with our families and haven't had any of our own traditions. Since Sophie is 2 1/2 now, we thought it would be a good year to start some of our own traditions. We celebrated our little family Christmas this past Saturday since we will be living with family on Christmas day.

We decorated a few weeks ago, and as I decorated, I thought, "Hmm, some people are really good and have stockings for the babies that are in their womb, but not me." And then I realized I didn't even have a stocking for the baby crawling around the room...

Since we won't be here over Christmas, we just used the little tree that I've borrowed from my mom for the last several years. This is what Sophie woke up to...

But she was still awake for half an hour before she saw them. Then she said, "Look Mommy, presents!" And then she asked to open them, and I said she had to wait until Daddy woke up. She immediately said, "I'm going to go wake Daddy up!" She's already learned the art of waking parents up on Christmas morning.

Oh, look! We didn't leave Brielle out after all.

Ben read Sophie her Christmas story about baby Jesus.

 Then Sophie got to put the baby Jesus sticker on her advent calendar from her Grandma Lori. She's been bugging to put baby Jesus on since the first day, so she was excited to do so.

Sophie opened her stocking and got a hairbrush, flinstone vitamins, and a capri sun. Gotta love that toddlers get excited about anything :)

Brielle checked out all the gifts.

Then she realized there were puffs in her stocking.

Sophie opened her gifts. This one was Dr. Seuss's ABC book.

Meanwhile, Brielle enjoyed her puffs which she thought was the best gift ever.

Then Sophie got excited to open her next gift which was "snacks!" (teddy grahams).

And Sophie was more than excited to help her little sister open her one gift which was a wooden hammer and peg set. Sophie has so far enjoyed it more than Brielle.

Then Sophie opened her big gift which Daddy got for her, and it was...

A basketball and hoop!

Ben was just as excited about it as Sophie...

And then they played with it for a little while.

We then ate breakfast. I made donuts for myself and Sophie and egg casserole for Ben which his favorite, and it was my first time making it for him.

My favorite thing that we did with Sophie this year was letting her pick out a gift to give. I went to the Samaritan Purse, Compassion, and World Vision websites and checked out their gift catalogs. If you're not familiar with them, they have a ton of ways you can give gifts to those in need, like buying livestock, feeding the hungry, clean water, education, and so on. Often people will buy one of the available gifts as an alternative gift to a friend or family member. Since we have so much in America and need so little, this is a great way to give a gift to someone who really doesn't need or want anything.

So, I chose six things from these different gift catalogs that I thought would pertain to Sophie and let her choose two- one for her and one for Brielle. The six I chose were all under $25: 2 chickens, a rabbit, feeding a mother and baby for a month, a Bible, milk, and a stuffed lamb that plays Jesus Loves Me. I explained to Sophie as best as I could about those who don't have things like we do (this is when our trip to PNG was helpful! I reminded her of those kids). I then told her since we had so much and since she had gotten gifts for Christmas, we wanted to give to others as well. She responded well and seemed very interested.

She chose to feed the mother and baby for a month for herself.

And then she chose the stuffed lamb that plays Jesus Loves Me for Brielle. (As a side note, I didn't want to give this one to her as an option at first because I thought it didn't seem enough like a "need"... you know, not like feeding a baby or giving a Bible or giving a chicken. But then I thought that to a little two year old, it probably does seem important. And I'm not surprised at all that she chose it as the gift for Brielle to give, and I think it's fitting for a kid to give a kid something like a stuffed animal :)).

The hardest part to explain to a two year old is how you don't really give these people food or a stuffed lamb. Instead you send money and someone else gives them these things. So she came with me to the computer and watched me as I clicked on the items and typed in information. The cute thing was that she kept thinking she needed to put the little piece of paper with the picture into the computer CD slot. She thought that was how we gave it ;) I love her little mind.

So that is what we did for Christmas this year. It was fun to begin out own little family traditions. We are so thankful that we can give fun gifts to our children but even more thankful that we can give to others. And mostly, we are thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ and that we know about him in our heart language.


  1. I loved this post!!! And I definitely want to steal the world vision gift giving idea. My first plan was to take Emma to target to get something for the Christmas store...but I knew she would pick out something for a little girl and we don't need that at the store, this is perfect!

    I love your little family and wish we could celebrate the holidays together.... but it's fun to celebrate from afar too. Oh, and Sophie is looking so grown up and gorgeous!!! Her hair!!!

    love you!!

  2. So sweet, Alisha! I loved reading about your family Christmas. And I also love the idea about the world vision gift. We have done that in the past, but never letting our kids do the choosing--I think that is such a neat idea :)