Our presents are shipped, our bags are packed, and I’m counting down the hours until I’ll be home for Christmas! This year we are heading to Chicago to spend Christmas with my family. I can’t wait to wake up in my parents’ house in the quiet of an early morning (hopefully with snow!) and come downstairs to find the coffee already brewed and my mom keeping a seat warm for me on the couch in the reading room. My parents have only been back in Chicago since I left for college, so I’ve technically never lived in this new house, but they both really know how to make it feel like home. I love that.
Earlier this week, I shared our Christmas Card. I thought I’d also share some of the other ways we’ve made Joyce family Christmas traditions. Traditions are important to me, and even though we’re only in our second year of our marriage and we’re only a ‘family’ of two, I’ve wanted to be really intentional about creating memories and establishing our own family customs. I think traditions say something about what we value and, in a way, shape who we are over time. In the middle of the busyness and cacophony of shopping malls and Santas, I want us to have places that we come back to each Advent that remind us of what we believe and what we love most. Some of them are defining moments that really point to the core of who we are and some of them are simple and light-hearted – small joys that speak of love and goodness in a world that can seem so dark sometimes.
I also had to learn that we, the two of us, are our own clan. So we can’t just take the traditions of our own families and mash them up and expect them to be just as meaningful. I come from a family of three girls. One of our traditions growing up was to watch White Christmas and traipse around the living room, singing “Sisters, Sisters” with our very own Butler Sisters lyrics. I tried this with Michael. He didn’t look as pretty in a blue feather boa as we’d both hoped.
This year our traditions included:
1. Getting our first Starbucks holiday drink and heading out to pick out our tree, then decorating it while listening to our favorite Christmas tunes (Otis Redding is high on the list).
3. An Advent Calendar. This year I made an Advent Calendar for Michael. I took 25 paper bags and numbered them, placing a small surprise (Joe Joe’s from Trader Joe’s) or a note of love or appreciation or an outing (tonight we’re going to drive around and look for the best Christmas lights or let’s bake cookies for our neighbors!) in them and tying them up with twine. This was a great way for me to love Michael and for us to love our friends and community. Some days we were too tired to do what was written in the bag, so we gave grace when needed.
4. Behold the Lamb. This Andrew Peterson & friends concert has become a must for us. The music is beautiful and the different artists he brings on tour with him each year are so talented.
Do y’all have special family traditions? I’d love to hear your ideas!