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The Seventh Stocking

December 13, 2011

ATTN:  Cheryl and Marla, please do not be misled.  The title of this post does not mean that we are expecting our fifth child : )


Christmas traditions are very important to us.  Bryan and I both grew up in families that valued certain traditions around this time of year, and I am so grateful for that.  He and I both have such fond childhood Christmas memories…….and many of those memories involve the traditions that our parents established for us.

One of the things I knew about Bryan from the get-go was that he loved Christmas as much as I did.  So, I knew that we would be a great pair at Christmas time.  I knew that the future Christmas seasons we would spend together would most likely be filled with celebrations and traditions.  And I was right.  Here are some of the ones that we currently have established (most of which are probably familiar to your family as well).

1) Christmas Music Marathon.  As soon as Thanksgiving is over, it’s all Christmas music around here!

2) Decorating.  The day after Thanksgiving is usually the day that we get all of our Christmas decor out to take over the house.  We have always enjoyed this……but it has become especially enjoyable with little ones around.  They went nuts this year when they saw their Christmas trees up!

3) Christmas Eve Service.  Ever since I can remember, we have attended a Christmas Eve Candlelight service which ends with the lights down low and candles flickering… we sing “Silent Night”.  It is always one of the most special moments of the Christmas season for me.

4) Christmas Lunch at Mom & Dad’s.  We enjoy a delicious Christmas Day lunch as well as an afternoon Christmas celebration at my mom and dad’s home.  (We always seem to sneak in a viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation during our time together as well.  It never fails to give us a good laugh.)

5) Extended Family Gatherings.  As most families do, we try to get together with our extended families this time of year.  Spending the holidays with them is something that we value very much.

6) Shopping.  On the day after Thanksgiving, my mom and I usually try to make it into Plainfield by about 8:00 in the morning to find some good deals.  We always have a great time together.  By the time we hit the streets in the morning, the mad early-bird rush has usually come and gone : )  So, the lines usually aren’t too bad.  It’s fun to just drive around town with her……browsing the stores for good deals……listening to Christmas music in the car……..and stopping for a family lunch that includes some combination of the Steinborn-Parks group.

7) Christmas Caroling.  Almost every year, we find some way to go caroling with our church family/friends.

8)  Christmas Pajamas.  When Sidney was still a baby, we began purchasing a new pair of pajamas for her to wear on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning.  This tradition has continued since then and involves all of our children.  Each year, they will receive a new pair of pajamas to wear at Christmas time.  I love seeing them wake up on Christmas morning looking super cute in their comfy, matching pajamas.  And – who am I kidding – it’s a great photo op, too ; )

9)  Cinnamon rolls.  We make cinnamon rolls at some point during the week of Christmas.  Bryan has actually taken a leadership role in the cinnamon roll department over the past few years.  He has become quite a pro at making them!

10)  Happy Birthday to Jesus.  On Christmas morning, we enjoy a breakfast that includes the cinnamon rolls we have made….one of which has a candle in it.  We light it and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus to start Christmas morning off right.

11)  The Christmas Story.  My dad has always read the Christmas story from Luke 2 to our family before we open gifts.  Bryan’s dad has always done the same.  So, Bryan now does that with our children on Christmas morning as well.  So far, he has just chosen to read them the version of the Christmas story that is found in one of our children’s books.  But, someday I’m sure we will transition to the actual reading from Luke 2.

12) Parks Christmas Gathering & Wrapping Paper Fight.  We always choose one Friday and/or Saturday in December to celebrate Christmas with Bryan’s side of the family.  Among the many fun things that this gathering holds is the annual wrapping paper fight.  After all gifts have been opened and the room is covered in wrapping and tissue paper, balls (a.k.a. bullets) are made and launched at an alarming rate around the room.  It’s a sight that can warm the soul as quickly as a cup of hot cocoa ; )

13) White Envelopes.  Bryan’s parents ask for white envelopes at Christmas that contain the retelling of something that we have done to help someone out…….some sort of service project.  We all share the contents of our white envelopes at the Christmas gathering.  Sidney joined us in this tradition a couple of years ago when she had something to put into a white envelope.  This year, all of our kids will have a white envelope to share : )

14) Elf Night.  For the past several years, we have hosted Elf Night for various small groups of family and friends.  Its seems as though the groups keep changing from year to year.  We have enjoyed each and every one of these gatherings.  Elf is the bomb.

15)  Christmas Cookies.  Most years, we try to make a batch of cookies using my Mom’s recipe.  Tasting them always takes me back in time to my childhood Christmases.

16)  Operation Christmas Child.  For years, we have enjoyed participating in Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.  Packing those shoeboxes each year is something that we look forward to, for sure.  Sidney is a great helper with this, too.

17)  Cookies and Milk for Santa.  We always put out cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve.  Santa leaves a note for the kids to read in the morning.  Even before we had children, he would leave a very sweet letter for me.  His handwriting has always been strangely similar to my husband’s….

18) Christmas at the Zoo.  Either before Christmas or after, we try to get out to see the lights that are on display at the zoo.

19)  Annual Ornament Gifts.  For Sidney’s first Christmas, we decided to establish the tradition of purchasing a special ornament for our children each year.  When it comes time for them to get married and celebrate Christmas apart from us someday, we like knowing that we will be sending them off with a nice collection of nostalgic ornaments to adorn their own family Christmas tree.  (sniff, sniff.)

20)  Kids’ Christmas Trees.  Each of our kiddos has his/her own small Christmas tree.  They get to decorate it themselves each Christmas – using the ornaments that we have given to them.  They are on display in each of their rooms.

21)  Castleton Christmas.  My cousin Lindy and I have met up with one another over the past several years in Castleton at Christmastime.  We enjoy walking through the mall with our girls………browsing, shopping, eating, letting the girls sit on Santa’s lap, listening to the Christmas music, and enjoying the beautifully decorated environment.

22)  Christmas Cards.  Even as a child, I can remember that I really enjoyed giving out greeting cards at this time of year……..and still today, I enjoy it very much.

23)  Lights.  It seems that with each child we add to our family, the amount of lights on the outside of our home goes down.  We have had to simplify our Christmas decorating as the years have gone by, for sure.  However, Bryan continues to make an effort to get some portion of our home lit up, and our kids sure do appreciate it.  They like that our home is among the many that are lit up this time of year.

24)  Christmas Morning Celebration.  We, like many families, exchange and open gifts on Christmas morning.  What a very special/intimate time that is for us.

25)  The Seventh Stocking.  This is a new one for us this year.  A few weeks ago, we purchased a stocking that matches the ones that the six of us have hanging over the fireplace.  However, it doesn’t have a monogram on the front.  It is blank.  I have attached a small ornament to it that has “Jesus” written on it.  Each year, we will ask the kids on Christmas Eve to place something in the stocking that they think would be something that Jesus might want for His birthday.  My guess is that this year we will find things like dinosaurs, polly pockets, half-eaten candy canes, or crayons inside of it.  I suppose that they could surprise us by putting something meaningful in there this year.  Whatever the case may be, I’m looking forward to discovering the results on Christmas morning : )  But, as the years go by, our hope is that the kids will begin to place things in there that have great meaning – things that would truly be gifts for Him.

Maybe they will someday place a small toy in there that can be given to Toys for Tots.  Maybe they will put the receipt for a meal that they purchased for a friend in need.  Maybe they will place a piece of jewelry that they want us to donate to a women’s shelter.  Maybe they will place a photo of the child that they have chosen to sponsor overseas.  Maybe they will place their allowance inside – as a donation to a worthy cause.

It’s hard to say exactly what may end up inside of that stocking each year, but I am already excited to find out.   We are hoping that our children find this newest tradition to be both fun and rewarding.  But, most of all, we hope that Jesus will be pleased with the contents of His stocking each year.


 “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices He is pleased.”  -Hebrews 13:16

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bobbi Kelley permalink
    December 14, 2011 1:35 pm

    Okay! What do you do on Elf night?

  2. December 14, 2011 7:15 pm

    Well, we watch the movie “Elf” (of course). Everyone brings their favorite Christmas treat to share…..and we try to include the four elf food groups in the mix somehow. The four food groups being candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup : ) We MUST culture you, Bob…….be prepared for your invitation next year!

    • Bobbi Kelley permalink
      December 14, 2011 7:22 pm

      The “Elf” movie didn’t even cross my mind. I am uncultured!! Very funny!!

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