Sweet and Simple like the Symonds

Christmas 2012

“Trusting that Christ loves us and wants to gather us back to Him inspires involvement to the best of our capacity. Actively striving to remember Him always – even in our ordinary and mundane tasks – helps us to experience His Spirit more fully and motivates us to strive to obediently keep his commandments. These actions bind us to the Lord – and Him to us.”

Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt, “Living Your Covenants Every Day

I love tradition. I love it so much that I had created an enormous amount of Christmas traditions and a monster load of work for myself. After hearing Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt speak about living intentionally and focusing on the rituals of our daily tasks, I asked myself how my traditions led my family closer to Christ and positive living.

The Symonds Family 12 Traditions of Christmas:

  1. Cut a fresh tree on a tree farm the day after Thanksgiving.
  2. Spend every day in December together baking cookies, candies and treats while watching old Christmas Movies.
  3. All Family members must participate in the family Christmas Eve beach walk.
  4. Take plates of goodies to friends and neighbors Christmas Eve.
  5. Invite every friend, neighbor and missionary to our home that doesn’t have anywhere else to go Christmas eve.
  6. Dress children up and reenact the Nativity on Christmas Eve prior to opening any gifts.
  7. The Elves bring new pajamas to the stockings on Christmas Eve (so the kids look like their mother cares in Christmas photos).
  8. Stay up all hours setting out treat tables, laying the fire, wrapping gifts and making homemade cinnamon rolls.
  9. All gifts are labeled from blessings not Santa. If it is labeled from Santa, you have a gift from a relative, friend or your parents have re-gifted.
  10. One person is chosen to be the elf and pass out gifts. They must wear a stupid elf hat.
  11. We open gifts one at a time and take turns in order of age, youngest to oldest. We take time to be gratefull and really enjoy each package. It can take more than an hour, way more….
  12. We eat until we are sick and sleep all day Christmas due to paralyzing exhaustion.

As I thought about living intentionally and bringing my family closer to the Savior, I wondered what all this work and fun was teaching my family? I decided to take a poll.

First I called my oldest child Erin.

Erin said, “It is not what you get, but what you give that really matters. A few weeks after Christmas what we received wasn’t fun anymore. What we gave to friends, family and people in need still makes me happy. The feeling that I got from giving stayed with me longer than the gifts I received.”

So I thought, all that shopping for just the right gift was a lot less important than the time I took to take them to donate at the homeless shelter and other service opportunities. Wow, I had raised a great girl!

Then I wondered what all the hysterical laughter was in the back ground of our call. “What are you doing?” I asked Erin.

“Making Madeline (her 18-month old) chase a laser pointer. It’s very entertaining.” Yup, a great girl.

I called Joseph and asked what he learned from our family Christmas traditions. He said, “It was the preparation….cutting the tree. On the years we prepared ahead, it built up to a good Christmas. It brought the spirit of Christmas… all our gifts were marked from blessings.”

Trish said that Christmas and reenacting the nativity story every Christmas Eve taught her that the scriptures were real. She said Christmas was the first time she became interested in what other stories might be in the scriptures that were also real.

Joel said it wasn’t about the gifts he received but the time we spent together.

Wow! I wish I would have known no one was appreciated the gifts!  l thought about all the years, that unknown to our children, we worried about how we would make their toy dreams come true and realize we did not need to worry.

And so…after talking with my family, I have decided to keep the 12 traditions of Christmas. However, this year as I bake, decorate and make costumes for Mary and baby Jesus, I will do it with intention. I will be focused on the positive importance of each sweet and simple thing that brings my family closer to Christ and each other.


Nativity 2012

Nativity 2012

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