For me, each year Christmas brings new traditions, holiday gatherings, gift giving, baking, and time with family.
I love all of it.
I love the look on the kids faces while decorating, looking at Christmas lights, visiting Santa and listening to Christmas music.
We are making wonderful memories that will last forever.
At the same time, during the Christmas season I also like to remember.
I like to think back on the many (well not too many, I'm not that old) Christmas's before.
I remember laying in bed with my sister eagerly awaiting the first crack of sunlight so we could get our parents out of bed to open presents.
I remember my mom's side of the family all gathering at my grandparents house, being cramped in the small living room, and at the count of 3 all of us kids would open a gift at the same time. It was a sea of wrapping paper and toys and kids.
I remember my grandparents coming over every Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. We would then sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and enjoy my mom's coffee cake.
I remember the first Christmas Brett and I celebrated together and opening our gifts in my tiny apartment.
I have no bad memories of Christmas, only happy times and it's nice to sit back a remember it all.
It's also during this time that I am reminded how fortunate I am and I remember those that are in need.
I think about those that have no family, no food, or a roof over their head.
I think about the little ones that will have nothing to open on Christmas morning.
And I am reminded to give back.
In the years past we have donated canned goods to the local food pantry, bought a toy for a child in need, or filled a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.
It takes just a little of our time and money yet I know it goes a long way.
I wish I did this more often through out the year.
I think I need to add this to our "to-do list" for 2012.
Lastly, and most importantly, I remember the true reason we celebrate Christmas.
The birth of Jesus.
It can be easily pushed aside with all the holiday gatherings, present opening, cookie baking, and talk about Santa.
Don't get me wrong, I love all of it, but our focus needs to be on the birth of our Savior.
I make sure to tell the boys of the significance of the nativity sitting on the shelf and we read books about the birth of Jesus.
We sing Christmas songs about His birth and make Him a cake for His birthday on Christmas morning.
I love that the boys enjoy Santa, the elf on the shelf, the lights, the tree, the decorations.
But nothing makes me happier then when I ask Ethan why we celebrate Christmas and his answer comes shouting out,
I hope this Christmas you also remember the good times you've had, those in need and most of all the birth Jesus.
(a little early)