Traditions are a big deal for me. I grew up with the tradition of no (or very few) traditions. So when I learned, during a season at MOPS in Michigan, that when you grow up and get married you get to decide what traditions to hold on to and which ones to let go of. She told us that we could start new ones and we could decide how we want traditions to look with our family. So every year I try to look at what we do as a family, which traditions are rock solid (will ALWAYS so them), which are fun but not a must, and which ones we can let go of for one reason or another.
Last year we used our chocolate Advent calendars to remind us to have devotions every night (the reminder was the kids begging for their chocolate) and we were very diligent and it was a great (what I thought to be) "new" tradition. This year, with Robert working crazy hours and me trying to adjust to that, well, the Advent/Jesse tree tradition is not happening this year. I think we have only done the calendar 3 times (the second and third were more than one window to open). We are currently due like 3 little pieces of chocolate (maybe more).
But the best part of all of this is that it is okay. We still talk about Christmas every day, we talk about why it is really important. We talk about how we can bless others. We hear those great Christmas Wishes on KLTY (one of our local Christian Radio stations) and we cry and we talk about how blessed we are to have all we do. So even though we are not doing our Jesse tree devotion, I feel like we are still getting it. I hope so! And maybe next year it will work out again for us to try the Jesse tree thing again.
A tradition I think I will never drop is the baking part. This afternoon I decided we were going to knock out several items at one time. I picked four things to do so each child could help with one of those items. Started our with Marinated Mozzarella cheese - and my little girl helped with this one. She loves to help in the kitchen, pretty sure she is my sous chef and that she belongs in the kitchen. Next was the peppermint bark with white chocolate - and that was our youngest son E. Following that was a family favorite : fudge and my eldest son J helped me mix all that up. Finally we ended with some biscotti and my middle son P helped me with this. At bed time they were all talking about helping in the kitchen. It was fun and I think we will do more of this, with them helping in the kitchen.
The best part of our day was dinner though. Robert is working a swing shift these days and so our family meal is lunch and dinner is usually left overs. This morning we all wanted pancakes - specifically Gingerbread Pancakes like the ones we had at the Magnolia Cafe in Austin, for breakfast. After reading reviews of the recipe though I realized that they would be best if the batter sat for a while in the fridge. So for dinner tonight we enjoyed our Gingerbread pancakes! The kids are certain we will make them again - and I am thinking they may become a fall/winter family favorite! Here is the recipe we used, I modified 2 - the Magnolia Cafe one and one on allrecipes.com - they were wonderful!!
Janelle's Wholewheat Gingerbread Pancakes
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 c flour (I used whole wheat)
1/4 c. coffee (brewed)
1 1/2 c. buttermilk (I used regular and added almost 2 teaspoon vinegar)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
1 Tblsp cinnamon
1 Tblsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
I blended the milk, coffee and sugar. Then I added the eggs. I mixed all the dry ingredients together and then added them to the wet and gently mixed. Then I refrigerated it all for about 8 hours - reviews I read said some people let them sit overnight.
That is it. Then we cooked them for supper. The Magnolia Cafe adds sliced bananas on top and I think even some in the mix, but we did not have any yellow ones!
If you try them let me know what you think! We loved them!!
Here is a video of a recent craft afternoon - we made applesauce ornaments. Notice my dear little girl cleaning up her part....
So I continue to try to refine our family traditions. No matter what we enjoy this time of the year, we enjoy talking about giving to others we know and those we do not know. I love to see my child grow in their maturity when it comes to Christmas. We are truly enjoying this season on celebrating the REAL reason we have this season : Jesus and all he did for us!!
Blessings to you this Christmas!