Tango With Traditions or Time For Our Own?

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I love the idea of traditions just as much as the next person, and the warm and fuzzy feelings that word evokes in my heart. However I’ll admit that try as I might to establish and keep traditions, I’ve really struggled over the years with consistency. Which is a problem when you consider the fact that a tradition is all about consistency — right? If you aren’t consistent about it, can you really call it a tradition?

TangoWithTraditionsTimeForOwn

When I reflect on my own childhood, I realize my mother had the same challenges maintaining traditions in our family. I don’t imagine that it was easy in a family with eight children — and extended family living nearby who maintained traditions of their own that my parents often felt compelled to participate in. When it comes to Christmas, we had several traditions that endured for a while but then faded as children got older and my mom desired for us to focus more on the “reason for the season” and less on the gifts. Sometimes her efforts were met with a lot of resistance, and although we tried different approaches over the years, nothing ever stuck.

Looking back now, I can completely relate to where my mom was coming from — and I’m disappointed in myself as the eldest child in the family not to have been more understanding and supportive of her efforts back then. Today, my struggles with Christmas traditions for my own family are very similar. I have the added challenge of having yet another family competing for our attention around the holidays: My birth dad’s family, which is also divided between his father and mother, who have been divorced since he was just a toddler. That makes at least three different family celebrations to attend in a span of 24 hours around Christmas Day. Oh, and did I mention they are all in California — and we live in Colorado?

As you can imagine, Christmas celebrations in the past have been hectic and completely non-traditional for us the years that we’ve packed up all our children — and a load of gifts — to be in California with my family. We’ve had Christmas dinners in hotel banquet rooms and restaurants. We’ve opened gifts around a mini Christmas tree in hotel suites and had to pack large toys into extra luggage purchased specifically to get it home on an airplane. We’ve driven from San Diego (where my Grandma lived) all the way up to the central CA coast (where my mom lives) in the same day to eat two different Christmas dinners — it’s a 5 1/2 hour drive.

And we’ve taken a huge financial hit: Each of these trips, whether we drove or flew, costs us in the thousands. Talk about holiday stress! As much as I love my California family and spending time with them — and I know how disappointed they are when we don’t travel out to visit them at Christmas time — we’ve determined that it’s a tradition we can’t always keep up with, especially if all signs point to staying home.

Which brings me to my mission for our own little family of five: Establish Christmas traditions that are meaningful to us and reflect our desire to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. When it comes to traditions we’ve attempted over the years or picked up from family in the past, we’ll keep a few that are meaningful to us and fit our mission for celebrating Christmas. And we’re ready to create new traditions of our own!

Homeschooling also gives us the freedom to bring Christmas into our everyday learning. Rather than continuing our traditional school days right up until a designated “Christmas break,” we can incorporate Christmas celebration and themes into our daily school activities. I want to have lots of fun with the girls and enjoy more family bonding time with our traditions, however I also want to take the focus off the commercialism that surrounds us and put it back where it belongs — celebrating the Greatest Gift of Emmanuel, God with Us.

So that’s the plan: It’s my prayer that as I turn this project of establishing our own family Christmas traditions over to the Lord and ask Him to guide our family during this time, traditions will be born that not only stand the test of time, but bless others as much as they bless us. May our family’s Christmas traditions bring more glory to Him and reflect His light in a time when most people completely miss the point.

Have you ever struggled with establishing or maintaining your own family traditions at Christmas? What traditions have stuck with you? Have any of your traditions changed or been influenced by homeschooling?

Editor’s note: Portions of this post originally appeared on this blog on December 2, 2011.

Strategies to Slow Down & Savor the Season

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FiveWaysSlowDownMYBCan you believe Thanksgiving is less than one week away? Ready or not, the retail rush into the holidays has been in full force for weeks now, with Christmas displays up at some stores in my town even before Halloween! And I’ve been inundated with email ads from businesses that can’t even wait for Black Friday — sending their deals early and encouraging me to shop this weekend.

I don’t like being ambushed by the commercial frenzy: I want to savor the season, spend meaningful time with my family, and share gifts from the heart — and I’m sure I’m not the only one. So how can we avoid being rushed through the holidays?

Join me today at Managing Your Blessings, where I’m sharing five strategies that have helped me slow down and keep my family’s focus on the reason for the season. It is possible to enjoy the your family’s favorite traditions, stay under budget, and share the love that we celebrate at Christmas without running ourselves ragged!

Read the full post here…

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How do you make sure to slow down during the holiday season? What are some of your family’s favorite traditions? What do you do to keep your family focused on the reason for the season? Share your strategies and challenges in the comments below.

Review: AIG Pilgrim’s Progress Curriculum

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PilgrimsProgressReview

A few years ago, I read Little Pilgrim’s Progress: From John Bunyan’s Classic (by Helen L. Taylor) to my three daughters as a family read-aloud. We all loved it, and I had planned to come back to John Bunyan’s original when they were older. I was so excited to be given the opportunity to review the Answers In Genesis Complete […]

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Thankful to Homeschool When Life Happens

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ThankfulToHomeschoolLifeHappens

I’m going to be honest here: This year has been particularly hard. Life has gotten pretty crazy with major changes for our business, home and family, including the building and development of newly purchased property while trying to sell our existing home. My well-laid homeschool plans have had to be scratched and contingency plans put […]

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Five Reasons I’m Thankful for Homeschooling

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FiveReasonsThankfulHomeschool

As a NextGen Homeschooler, I am thankful for my own homeschooling experience as well as the opportunity to homeschool my own daughters now. Homeschooling has come a long way since the mid-80s when my mom started homeschooling: From more curriculum options and enrichment programs to public funding for homeschooling co-ops. Homeschooling is more accessible and “acceptable” today, […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Avoid Burnout

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Minority woman with her children fighting in the background

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Find Support

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31DaysHomeschoolSupport

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: With Toddlers

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31DaysWithToddlers

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Use Co-Ops

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Girls Working Together

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Unit Studies

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School supplies await the first day of class

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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Review: Family Toolbox for Parenting Teens

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FamilyToolboxReview

As the mother of tween (12) and teen (13 1/2) girls, I was very excited to evaluate The Family Toolbox with my daughters as we enter this new phase of parenting with them. Produced by the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP), publishers of the Christian Parenting Handbook, The Family Toolbox is a DVD/video-driven program that brings parents and teens together for constructive […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Our Charlotte Mason Influence

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31DaysCharlotteMason

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Learning Styles

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31DaysLearningStyles

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Save Money

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31DaysSaveMoney

Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working […]

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