I am a creature of habit and I love the traditions I had growing up, especially when it comes to celebrating Christmas, Easter and Birthdays. Traditions are wonderful for those involved in them, however like all things, they need to be modified and questioned over time to stop them from becoming obligatory rather than fun and unifying.
Getting married and then moving abroad provided a perfect time to question both my own and my husband’s Christmas Traditions. After my first Christmas away from home, where everything seemed a little odd, the lack of Christmas songs on the radio, the lack of Christmas parties, and decorations, and no Christmas jumpers in the 30+ temperatures. These conditions caused for a complete overhaul of previous traditions and a need to embrace the change, rather than crying over it. I will have plenty of English Christmas’s to look forward too but for now, I needed to make the most out of South Africa, and start afresh with the family I have here, my 3 children, husband and close friends.
We continue to make changes (creating advent calendars before 1st December, gets much easier the following year once you have all the ideas…) and ensure that our traditions are fun and embrace the people and community we are in. Rather than adapting things that have always been done at the risk of isolating people or places, we try to create new fun traditions for us as a family.
I hope our children will take some of them into adulthood, but if they don’t, then at least we will always have the great memories of the good and be able the laugh at the messy times.
Our Christmas kicks off at the start of Advent, which provides 4 week time of rest and reflection, something that is easier to do here in South Africa with the schools breaking up at the start of December and most family holidays to the beach begin around now. Together as a family we get up to lots of different activities throughout Advent, with the aim being to use the opportunity to teach us about how we can practically show kindness and love to one another.
Our Family Christmas Traditions
2. CHRISTMAS STORY - Each morning a new character is unwrapped and put into the stable, we tell the story of the role that character plays in the Christmas Story .
3. Advent Calendar - Each morning the Kindness Elf has left a note saying what activity to do that day.
STUCK FOR IDEAS ON WHAT TO DO THIS DECEMBER HERE is our advent kindness calendar & thank you Catherine for sharing her's too!
Go on download them - its not too late to start and grab some ideas of fun things to do.
DOWNLOAD HANNAH's ADVENT CALENDaR
DOWNLOAD CATHERINE"S ADVENT CALENdaR
4. Day we put up the Christmas Tree we play Christmas songs, eat mince pies and watch a Christmas movie.
5. Put together a shoe box of pre loved toys, clothes, books, and then add in some new things to donate to a charity. (This has started some wonderful conversations and thoughts from my 4 year old).
6. Presents to open during advent (I may change this to the 12 days of Christmas)
Week 1 - Advent Candle & Christmas Book
Week 2 - Christmas PJs &
Week 3 - Xmas Placemat and bowl
Week 4 - Christmas Film
7. Family Christmas Date Day -(I stole this from my friend Alice) As a family we go and do something fun and christmasy together (when the kids get older they will take it in turn to choose and organise what we all do)
8. Christmas Eve - put out mince pie, carrot and sherry for Father Christmas, and go to crib service at church.
One question I love to ask my friends is what are your Christmas/ holiday traditions, a chance to celebrate and be thankful for those that matter most to us, I love it! So here are some of their responses:
We buy a tree decoration from a country we have visited that year for each of our girls, then when they leave home they will have their own set of Christmas Tree decorations. (Julia)
We write a personalised poem to go on each gift we give. (Tess)
We give the kids their Christmas PJs and drive round to see Christmas Lights, then come home for Hot Chocolate. (Ally)
Each Christmas eve I sit down with a glass of mulled wine and write a Christmas diary and/or letter to each child outlining the year, highs and lows and our hopes for the following year. (Sally)
We all write a letter to Father Christmas, I then add in shaved off sparklers (while the kids aren’t looking), we create a fire, and send our letters to santa by throwing them on the fire, if they have been good the letter will sparkle which is the elves taking the letter to Father Christmas. (Jane) (I would love to give this a try! Who knows where in SA I can buy sparklers and then how do I turn them into shavings?)
Florence School - Created a Kindness Paper Chain with each child writing down the 5 acts of kindness they had done.