Christmas Traditions

One thing I have noticed about many of the children we have worked with is that they don’t have many traditions, especially during Christmas and the holiday season. It is important to have roots and traditions and I believe that is one of the more important things we can do for the children we care for.

We have always allowed the children to help decorate the house for Christmas. In fact, we have two Christmas Trees. One formal tree that we must have for Open House and a second tree we have in the family room that only the children decorate. They place all the decorations and where they place them is where they stay, even if there is a huge blank spot on the tree. We may offer suggestions on how to decorate it, but we allow them to do it their way. Funny thing about this tradition is that our home teenagers have enjoyed it much more than our birth children that are now teens. I wonder if they have so many traditions that tradition has less meaning to them.

My favorite tradition is on Christmas Eve:

  • We have a light supper, and then go to candlelight Church service.
  • Then we come home and watch a goofy Christmas movie and have eggnog milkshakes. Past movies have included: “Christmas Vacation”, “Elf”, “The Santa Clause”
  • Finally, before opening presents we load into the van and drive around town looking for the gaudiest Christmas display we can find to give our imaginary “Griswold Award” Usually by the end of the evening we have a winner and several runner up displays.

I would love to hear about what others have for traditions and what their children think of them.

Sometimes it’s Best Just to Keep Your Mouth Shut

webmaster 

Thursday was our annual “Open House” at the facility I work at. It is the largest event of the year and takes a ton of work to get ready for. There are also things you have to do afterwards to get back to normal.

One job is to return the golf-carts, we use for transporting guests, back to the golf-cart shop. That was the job I wanted. I thought it to be more prestigious than the other jobs and more fun. I didn’t get that job. They called me to go and help return the dining hall to it’s usual condition; something I didn’t want to do.

However, I thought it best just to keep my mouth shut and do what I was asked to do. It took us a total of 36 minutes to set up. When we were done, we were free to do whatever. For me that was delivering angel tree gifts our church members had purchased so that some less fortunate children would have a better Christmas. My wife and I returned from that about the same time the golf-cart people finished their job. It took over two hours to return those carts.

It wasn’t hard to recognize which was the better job that morning and I was very glad I kept my mouth shut.


Housepop 

My reply has nothing to do with your original post but every time I look at this post heading it just reminds me of how often I need to do just that. Just keep my mouth shut, whether it is with staff that might get on my nerves or that over excited child that just wants to share a little to much joy or a girl that wants to express a feeling I don’t want to deal with at that very moment. Sometimes I just need to say to myself “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and do what you know God called you to do.” Be a dad, be a comfort, be caring, be a worker bee and just keep your mouth shut.


TexPop

I am frequently reminded that a closed mouth gathers no feet..
-TexPop

Visitor from Brazil Really cool day.

Launchpad

We had a great experience today. A man from Brazil that operates a group home stopped by our cottage today to check out our program. He had a translator with him and had to explain to the kids that when they were talking with him they would have to wait for the translator to repeat what they were saying in Portuguese to our guest.

The kids did an awesome job. They gave him a tour of the house and told him about the program. They even had a family conference while he was here. We could not have been prouder.

Our guest did something next that made my whole day. We had a boy that was not doing well and was sitting in a chair taking a well deserved time out. Our guest walked over to him, bent down, shook his hand, smiled at him and said something in Portuguese. The kid smiled back and had a great evening afterwards. There was just something about watching a House Parent from another culture do a totally random kind act for a kid. Language was not a barrier at that moment. It was just one of those tear jerker moments for me.

My wife shocked everyone when she came out and started talking to our visitor in Portuguese. I NEVER knew she talked Portuguese. I asked her later about it and she said it is close to Spanish and picked it up while she was living with missionaries in Honduras. Our guest was very surprised and they both enjoyed talking back and forth. I’m starting to think I married some kind of Government operative. It was kind of like finding out after being married for a year your wife is an Astronaut.

Interesting day. Time to go finish my John Clancy novel now

It’s Christmas Time Again! Hold on for the ride!

TexPop

Well,

It’s that time again. I thought I’d get a jump on things and pulled everything from the attic last Sunday. I’m still going through it – what is today??!? Tuesday afternoon a group of volunteers is coming to hang lights on the eaves so I had to get them ready anyway. The campus administrator announced a prohibition on getting up on the roof this year. Yea!! Christmas decor can get a little competitive between cottages and that should help keep things from getting too crazy.

I was going through strands of lights wishing I’d bought that light fixer do-hicky that someone mentioned last year on the forum. Oh well, I just tossed out 3 strands. Gotta go to Walmart tomorrow before the group shows up!

Merry Christmas! (I wanted to be the 1st to say it this year)

-TexPop 

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webmaster

Our outside decorations are mandated by administration. A single strand of large white lights along the eves, a green wreath with ribbon that coordinates with the house on the door and matching green garland above the door. We are allowed to put out other decorations after open house, but most don’t put much out, because the kids will mess with them. I have a blow-up Jimmie Johnson Holiday car and my blow-up “Thanksgiving Scarecrow choking Santa Claus” protest decoration.

Inside the house we are pretty elaborate. We have a formal tree in our main living room, decorated as mandated by administration. But we also have a tree in our family room that the children decorate. I will set up the tree and put on the lights, then the kids get to place all the remaining decorations. We leave it exactly how they decorate it, which means the decorations aren’t always spread evenly throughout the tree.

Our main theme in the house is “The Nativity” My wife has about twenty sets in various sizes that we put out. It takes almost a week to decorate, but I can have everything packed up and put away in less than a day on December 26th. Our Christmas preparations start in August and our first party is the weekend of Thanksgiving. We are usually ready for it to be over, by the 26th. 

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dontlietokids.net

Wait…administration “mandates” how your tree is to be decorated?!?!?

wow…

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webmaster

Yes administration mandates how our outside decorations and how our formal tree is decorated, however we are free to decorate everything else to our own liking as long as it is tasteful. It is not a big issue for us and they have very good reason.

We are totally dependent on private donations for our funding and raise probably 40-50 percent of our annual budget during November and December. We do things to present ourselves in the best possible light, including how we decorate for Christmas. Kind of like the whole dressing up for Church principle. Though I think the Griswold style of decorating is pretty cool, not everybody else does. However, not all staff members realize that or even care, so administration has to mandate it.

Reality is – If more people would think of the greater good of everybody (the kids, program, facility) instead of their own personal desires, we wouldn’t need so many rules. And that can be applied to every program in the country, and I think life in general.

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Launchpad

We just opened the cottage this year, so our decorations are slim pickings this season. I would like to get to the point next year that we can put lights up around the house, especially since we have one of the oldest cottages on campus.

Volunteers would be nice. Oh well, there’s always next year. Maybe…

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Housepop

My wife and I start decorating the cottage on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I do the outside and she does the inside. I string lights around the roof of the cottage and a a few hanging stars and then I put out gingerbread pople with each of the girls names on them. I start about mid morning and am done by early afternoon. My wife loves decorating and along with a 9 foot artificial tree that the girls decorate she usually has it complete by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. She then starts baking candy and cookies that the girls decorate and eat until Christmas is over. We also let each girl decorate their own stocking and they get pretty artsy and creative and it is always fun to see how they turn out. We enjoy Christmas and try to makes as many memories for them to treasure and keep for years to come. We also have a fire place so when we have our Christmas party I light the fire place and I read the Christmas story from Luke and then we open presents. Of course in order to light the fire place sometimes I have to turn the air conditioning up since it doesn’t get real cold here in South Florida. It is such and awesome time of year I love it more than the kids do probably.