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?

35 Days of Favorites: Family Traditions

I’ve been reading about bedtime routines lately, for a couple of reasons.

First of all, Kaylia is having trouble going to bed at night, and we need to make some adjustments to her routine.

But the second reason is that I came across an article about why adults need bedtime routines, too! If you want to get to bed earlier, and improve the quality of your sleep, a bedtime routine will send the message to your body that it’s time to wind down for the day.

This past year has been about messages getting sent to our bodies – in many other ways than just bedtime routines.

In the last year, we have had to adjust to a new house, a new town, a new church, a new job for Ben, with very different hours from what he was working before, which meant a new adjustment for the girls, too. In some ways, moving away from camp was almost like a cultural change, too! Very extreme, in so many different ways, and yet, as I look back over this last year, I’m a bit surprised by how quickly everyone has adjusted and settled into Niverville life.

This last weekend, I think I finally figured out one of the reasons why….

We spent the weekend at the cabin, and on Sunday morning, I was watching Ben and the girls search for clues to our family’s Annual Father’s Day Treasure Hunt. I think Ben had been awake for a total of about 2 minutes that morning before the girls eagerly pounced on him, begging to begin the treasure hunt.

Father's Day

We’ve never done it at the cabin before – the tradition was started while we were living at camp, and Anika thought it was tons of fun to have all these new locations to use for hiding clues.

Father's Day

As they went from the dock to the microwave to the picture frames, I suddenly realized how much our treasure hunt accomplishes. The girls get so excited about it each year, and it’s just one of those things we do.

It doesn’t matter where we are – it always feels like Father’s Day, as long as we have a treasure hunt.

Father's Day

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how all of our little family traditions have held us together through this past year. We can be in a completely different place, living a very different kind of life, and yet we still feel like “us”, because we have these anchors holding us down, keeping us safe and steady, even when everything else is changing.

I’ve always loved our little family traditions, but this past year, I’ve seen how much we need them – how fast someplace can feel like home, because we make it home with what we do together as a family. We’re sending messages to our bodies to settle in and get comfy!

I think it’s time to get even more intentional about adding in some more family traditions…

What are your favorite family traditions?

Oh, Picaken, How We Love You.

I am a very big fan of family traditions.We need them for Christmas, and Easter, and birthdays, and every other important day which needs celebrating.

Picaken is Ben’s birthday tradition. It’s still a young tradition – this was it’s second year with our family. But I can see it sticking around for a long time.

In case your family is in need of a unique tradition, here’s how picaken works:

You bake a pie:


And then you mix a cake:


After that, you put half of the cake batter into a pan, literally throw your pie into your cake, cover it up with batter, and bake that pie right into your cake.


pie in cake

So weird, right?! That’s why Ben loves it.

And no, it’s not healthy at all. But it’s one day of the year.

Last year, I made a mixed berry pie in a lemon cake. This year, Ben chose a cherry pie in a chocolate cake.


We’re already dreaming about next year. A peach pie in vanilla cake? Raspberry coconut? The options are endless…

What flavour combination would you suggest?