Opening The Christmas Box

Opening The Christmas Box

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.

I love this time of year.

The cooler weather, the music, the giving spirit that seem present in so many ways; it’s beautiful.  I also love the traditions that my family and my husband’s family have passed on through the generations.  As we began forming our own family traditions, I stumbled upon a new idea that I hadn’t heard before.  I wish I could credit a particular source, however I’ve seen it and read about it from several places. So I’m not sure who to give credit to!  I should note that I’m not the creator of this idea, but we do tweak it to make it just right for our family.

We call it the Christmas Box.

Each year in November or early December I begin working on our Christmas Box.  My goal is to fill our Christmas Box with things that will create beautiful memories for our family.  I usually include:

  • Homemade “tickets” to our local holiday light show.  It’s one of our favorite things to do each year.
  • Mugs for hot chocolate and one of our favorite Christmas movies.
  • A special treat for each person.  For the kids it’s as simple as a candy cane or piece of chocolate.  For my husband and I, I’ve been known to buy a candy bar or throw in a Starbucks gift card.
  • Glow wands for the kids to use during the drive and long wait for the light show. 
  • A new pair of pajamas for each person.  This one is subject to interpretation.  Let’s face it, my husband and I only need so many pairs of pajama pants! So some years I just fold up some old ones and throw them in the box.  However, our kids still need a new pair each year, so it’s a nice way to throw in that extra gift.
  • At least one good Christmas book that tells the story of Christ’s birth.  We also use our Bible to reinforce where the true story of Christ comes from.

Our Family’s Traditions

For our family, we choose a day that works for us since we spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our families out of town.  I try to pick a Saturday.. That way, everyone is well-rested and we can get an early-ish start on our celebration.  We generally have a sit-down dinner a little bit early and then we open our Christmas Box.  The kids are always so thrilled to see each thing inside.  Everyone changes into their new pj’s and we begin sorting through the goodies in the box.

Our kiddos are still pretty young, so we don’t plan much for after the light show.  Generally the line is long and everyone is ready for bed shortly after we get home. After we get home, we open gifts and then put the kids in bed.  That means that we have to get to everything else in the box before we leave.  That can be a little tricky when I get overzealous and fill it to the brim!  However, there have been times where we’ve opted to save something for the following day.  I try to choose a short Christmas movie and we watch it before we leave or even save it until the next day.

Using the Christmas Box to Focus on Jesus

This new tradition is something I look forward to every year and I hope that it’s something that my children look forward to as well.  I’m excited to see how it changes as they grow older.  I love that I can use the things I put in this box to reinforce the birth of our Savior.  With Christmas becoming more commercialized every year, it can really be a struggle to keep our children focused on our Savior.  Even for those that don’t use Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ, most parents don’t want children whining, begging, or demanding certain gifts for two months every year.

I think it’s important to help point our children’s hearts toward Christ-like behaviors.  I struggle with getting my children to focus on giving to others rather than focusing on their own desires.  The Christmas Box helps me reinforce the importance of family time and togetherness, rather than just gifts and the individual.

How do you help point your children toward Christ or Christ-like behaviors at Christmas?

What traditions, old or new, do you enjoy with your family during the holidays?

Black Friday Memories: It’s Not Just About the Shopping

Black Friday Memories: It’s Not Just About the Shopping

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
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Black Friday is for Making Memories

Last year, I wrote about my family’s crazy Black Friday experience.  Believe it or not, it gets better every year.  We have some great times together and create some fun Black Friday memories!

The last several years, my sister-in-law and I have insisted that we are not staying out all night. Somehow, my adult niece always manages to keep us out all night.  Once, we even managed to get a trampoline in the minivan with five people.  And last year, we finished shopping by 9:00 a.m.  and I got to have three hours of sleep before going to have lunch.

Thanksgiving started as usual.  Everyone got to be together, and of course, we ate more than we should.  We got the newspaper ads out.  We highlighted everything we thought we might want and organized our game plan.  Then things got interesting.

 I have never had an iPhone.  I am an Android user!  “What does this have to do with anything?” you ask.  Well, I was introduced to Siri and the fun began.  Have you ever asked Siri, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”  So by 3:00 am, we are asking Siri everything from “Tell me a joke,” to “What is the meaning of life?”  And we did not just ask once; we asked each question multiple times.  Siri will give multiple answers.  We let Siri entertain us every time we got back in the car.

Around 6:00 am, I knew my Black Friday post would post so I looked it up and read it to everyone.  Of course, then we had to sing “Dumb Ways To Die.”  I believe this will be our new Black Friday tradition.  We had so much fun rehashing previous escapades.

Different and Quirky

We were afraid that one tradition was going to change last year–our pizza buffet lunch.  There were more people to feed, a sluggish economy, and higher prices.  We had previously decided we would forego the pizza and have leftover Thanksgiving dinner.  Somehow, we found out that they were doing a Black Friday buffet special.  That saved the day!  We were able to go and have our traditional pizza.  I know it sounds weird, but it is something we have done for years.  It’s what we do.  It’s different and it’s quirky, like our family!

Of course, the weekend was not without incident.  There was an impending ice storm.  My oldest son left after we got back from eating pizza so he could get back to college before the storm (That’s another story).  We, unfortunately, did not.  By the time we were ready to go, it had gotten pretty bad towards our home.  We decided to stay another night (I had packed for it, just in case).  We got up the next morning, called friends to check on the roads, and headed out.  The closer we got home, the worse the roads got.  Fortunately, we made it home without incident and a lot of prayers.

What Black Friday Memories Will We Make This Year?

I do not know what this Black Friday will bring, but I am up for the challenge.  Now my family knows that what happens on Black Friday will be written about the next Black Friday.  They need to work hard to give me new material.

Does your family have any unusual traditions?


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