Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Ideas and Recipes, con't.

My friend Karen Ehman is having a 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway on her blog (you should check it out!), and featuring Proverbs 31 speakers all month. On her first day, she encouraged readers to think about their holiday traditions, and what is worth continuing and what are simply more-to-do-but-nobody-really-cares-about-it traditions.

So I decided to take this challenge, and this morning on the drive to school, I asked my daughters what their favorite Christmas traditions were at our house. They quickly answered, "we dont have any traditions at our house". My heart sunk and my eyes bulged out. I loudly said, "you mean all these years I have been trying to make special Christmas memories for all of you and you honestly think we dont have any traditions?!" I could feel my holiday spirit diminishing as my blood pressure was rising.

I think they were a little scared about what to say next to a mom who now seemed to be hyperventilating, so they meekly asked me what were some of our traditions. So I quickly started listing them off one by one:

1) We pick out family trees together, have dad load them on the car, come home and turn on the Frosty the Snowman DVD, drink hot cocoa, and decorate the house and our trees.
2) We make special baked treats every year for friends, family and teachers that they love to help make.
3) We try to help a family in need every Christmas by buying them Christmas gifts.
4) We go to the Southern Christmas Show every year as a girls-day-out adventure.
5) We go to the Christmas Eve Candlelight service at our church each year.
6) We play holiday music and sing along for hours.
7) We ooh and ahh over our special sentimental decorations, like our little Angel Angie and our small kitchen Christmas tree which is decorated with all candy-themed ornaments.
8) We read the Christmas story together and talking about why Jesus is the reason we celebrate, and sett up our big manger scene with all the Christmas story characters.

And then I stopped to take a breath as they sat wide eyed at my flurried rundown of activities, but then they both said, "oh, I just thought those were the things we do every year, I didnt know they were traditions". Okay, so at least they do know we do special things every year and remembered them, and they do look forward to those things, they just never considered them "traditions", because they didnt really understand the meaning of the word.

So this year, I plan to make sure that each time we do something familiar, I tell them, "now remember, this is one of our traditions!". And one day, I hope they will carry on some of these traditions with their own families, just as I did with the traditions that took place in my childhood home during the holidays. I just took for granted that they knew what traditions were!

The dictionary definition of "tradition" is this:
* the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
* a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting
* a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices

When I read this definition, I thought to myself, EXACTLY! But then God spoke to my heart, and I heard Him say to me, "the tangible traditions that we carry out are not the only things we should want to pass down to our kids; the real traditions come from the heart".

The thought almost stopped me in my tracks. I so want to pass down the tradition of going to church every Sunday, being involved in bible studies and learning about Gods word, helping families who are in need, putting others before ourself, caring about your sisters and brothers and treating them kindly, being respectful to your parents and elders, being a polite person, being able to forgive, staying true to your faith and making Christ a priority in your life yearroud, not just at Christmas.

Come to think of it, there are so many other traditions that I want to pass down to my kids that I cannot even list them all. I am so thankful that God reminded me of this important truth about traditions. Holiday traditions are great and important, but the holidays are not the only place where traditions need to take place.

Instead of focusing on whether or not my children remember what movie we played while decorating our Christmas tree, I want to make an early New Years Resolution to focus on what traditions I am passing down throughout the entire year. What traditions is my heart planting, that will take root in the hearts of my family?

My prayer for the coming year is that I do pass traditions through how I live my own life, so that my children will inherit a long standing belief in Jesus Christ, all that He stood for, what He means to us, and how He can use to affect the hearts and lives of others.

I want to encourage you too to consider what your "traditions" are this holiday season -- are they only traditions attached to a holiday, or are they life and heart traditions, which are grounded in our beliefs, and ones that we pass down by word of mouth, but more importantly, by practice and how we live out our daily lives.

As promised yesterday, below is a special easy cheese dip recipe that is super for Christmas parties. I have been making it so many years, that I dont even know where it came from, but I always receive compliments on it when I take it to gatherings.

Cheese Dip
1 large bar of Velveeta Cheese
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 pack of Sage Sausage
1 large can of Salsa
2 bags of Tortilla chips (for dipping!)

Depending on how mild or spicy you want your dip to be, you can mix and match with the Rotel, Sausage and Salsa flavors.

Brown your sausage in a frying pan, and drain the grease. Pour sausage either into your crock pot or a small deep pan or pot, both on low to medium settings. Stir in your tomatoes, salsa and Rotel, and continue stirring until it is fully mixed. Let the mixture get hot, but be sure not to let the bottom burn, and then cube up the Velveeta and put in the mixture. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted and your mixture is a nice orange bubbly cheese dip. Serve either from the crock pot, or transfer to a serving bowl (note that once cheese dip is cooled, it will harden, but can easily be warmed back up for a second round!)

Merry Christmas!

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Angie said...

One of the things I look forward to at Christmas are traditions. Watching "A Christmas Vacation" Thanksgiving night, buying a tree the day after Thanksgiving, watching countless Christmas movies on TV, of course "A Christmas Story" during the 24 hr. marathon Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and all the yummy food. My husbands grandmother has been the one that prepares the meal for Christmas Day along with all the goodies until last year. His grandfather had a stroke and now is in an assisted living home. Last year she didn't have the time to prepare anything. Of course we couldn't let this stop our family tradition of being together so many of us stepped in to continue with everything. One thing everyone looks forward to is peanut butter fudge. Everyone heads out into the chilled garage to find Nannas goodies.

Peanut butter Fudge

1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and confectioners' sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with wax paper. Place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container.

Joyful said...

"Real traditions come from the heart". Traditions that last 12 months of the year. Growing the fruit of the Spirit. Having a daily quiet time. Oh Tracie, thank you for reminding me that it's the day by day teaching our children as we sit at the table and walk along the way where real traditions are birthed.