Choosing Christmas Traditions

It was Christmas time, Ben was my boyfriend, and we were hanging out at my apartment with my roommate, talking about Christmas music. A Boney M song came on, and Ben said enthusiastically, “My family always listens to Bonnie M – she’s great!”

My roommate and I burst out laughing, and teased Ben mercilessly about this woman named “Bonnie”. Seventeen years later, he is still just as convinced it’s the right way to pronounce “Boney”. Anika is now old enough to join in the debate, which now includes “Bunny” as an option, since the English language is weird, and it could be argued that “Boney” should be pronounced the same as “honey” or “money”.

Part of me is slightly annoyed that after all this time, Ben still refuses to admit the “Bonny” pronunciation holds no validity, but the rest of me has to confess I love this silly little debate which must happen every year, and I imagine our kids coming home at Christmas as adults, continuing the heated discussion of Boney/Bonnie/Bunny.

Christmas traditionsI think about what other traditions our kids will come home to. What are we doing now that will continue to be important for years to come? It feels like our traditions are still forming – we have special little things, like setting up our Christmas village, decorating a gingerbread house, having a hot chocolate picnic by the tree on Christmas Eve, letting the girls choose a new ornament each year at our favorite Christmas store.

Christmas villageI also think about how traditions form – which ones are intentional, and which traditions form over time?

When Anika was a baby, I remember having a conversation with a lady who’s oldest son was in Grade 12. I asked her what their family did to celebrate Christmas, and she said, “Well, this is the first year we’re actually home for Christmas – in the past, we’ve always gone to visit family at Christmas, so we don’t really have any of our own traditions.” It’s stuck with me for years, because I thought it was so sad. Their son was on the brink of leaving home, and they had never established any Christmas traditions for him to come home to. I remember feeling determined to get a head start on our family traditions. Baby or not, Anika was going to be traditioned.

When I was in Bible school, I had to write a paper about what makes a church strong and healthy. As I researched this topic, I found one of the most important aspects to be rituals or traditions – the church family needs something to look forward to, to come back to, to welcome others into. Traditions are part of who we are. The same holds true for our family.

Gingerbread houseIt gets tricky, because some traditions have to change as family changes. Over the years, Ben and I have talked about all the things our families did to celebrate Christmas during our years of growing up, and some of those things are not practical to carry on as kids leave home, get married, have their own families. Do we need to be more intentional about choosing traditions now already which are most likely to stand the test of time, or do we choose what works best for now, and try to be flexible and adapt as our family grows and changes?

Lots of things to consider. At least we’ll always have Boney M.

Friends, I want to hear from you: where do you stand on the Boney/Bonnie/Bunny debate, and what are your favorite Christmas traditions? What traditions have stood the test of time in your family?

4 thoughts on “Choosing Christmas Traditions

  1. Crab Dip, we have to eat crab dip Christmas Eve. Putting on an article of clothing as we open it, on top of whatever we are wearing…layer over layer upon layer (most underwear is excluded). Games lots of games, kids included and taught the basics of Rook, Conasta, Settlers, etc. Eating the turkey (must be turkey) at lunch, so that supper is ‘catchcan’, we can slice up the leftovers onto buns with whatever condiments we prefer (there is much controversy cranberry vs mustards at this point).Those chocolate oranges, with the segments that you smash. Church service Christmas Eve & singing Silent Night by candlelight.

    • Oh, I love this – because there are so many fun ideas, and because you know exactly what’s important for your family! That’s so great.:)

  2. Okay, so first of all, Bone-y M!! Funny debate. One of our (winter) traditions is that when the first snow falls, Boney M gets it’s first listen of the season. That goes back to my childhood, when we would sit on the big wooden record player while listening to Feliz Navidad…often before school on that first day with snow. We still usually do that, just now it’s a CD and not a record. (We’re behind already, i know…but the CD is still handy around here.) Our favorite traditions now include ordering in for supper, watching the Nativity Story, a family sleepover in the living room around the tree and opening gifts in the morning. We have a pile of gifts to open because all the kids buy gifts for each other. They get so excited about giving their gifts and it’s a challenge to wait until Christmas! I can totally see that those traditions are precious to our kids. They love to talk about what we do. (Now, if we could all just blow off these colds and strep…UGH! Another “tradition”…of the most unpleasant kind!)

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