Advent, Crèche, Christmas Tree, and Candy: A Few Of Our Traditions

As we approach the end of Advent and anticipate the most wonderful celebration of Christmas, our home has been a flurry of activity. We have travelled to Williamsburg for our ninth Grand Illumination, finally set up our tree on the 21st, and baked and baked some more! The packages have been mailed and all the presents wrapped (just about!) and I am now settling down to prepare for my own family’s celebration on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As I look around my home I want to share some of our traditions with you.


This year we will light all five candles of our Advent Wreath on Christmas morning after Himself reads the Christmas story from the Bible. We usually light the candles on each of the 4 Sunday nights before Christmas but this year we were gone for two of them and thought to wait. We also have a script to go with the lighting of the candles. This tradition started for us after I read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. We have been doing this for 11 years now.


When Doots was a baby we thought it would be a good idea to purchase a wooden Nativity set so that the children could play with it. Each year my children have enjoyed pulling this from the box and setting it up. You can see Mary and Joseph with a donkey in the background. They have not arrived to the stable yet. We will put them there Christmas Eve.

Do you think Mary really rode a donkey? I does not say in the Bible.

The Magi are way over across from the Nativity as they have far to travel, probably arriving at the toddler’s side by the time he was 18-24 months old. But we put them at the scene on Christmas night. Don’t want to get too technical as you can see the star and the angel already hanging out! Baby Jesus is hidden away and will show up Christmas morning. My children are still awed by this.

I wonder how many Wise Men there really were who visited little Jesus? We have always assumed three as three gifts were given but the Bible does not say.


This year I have decided to decorate our tree exclusively with our children’s ornaments. They get a thrill (and so do I) to see the ornaments they have made and the ones that have been purchased for their future trees once they leave home. I love to look at the ones with their pictures on them and the dates. Time is really flying. So you may think my tree looks goofy but it makes me smile. And cry a little too.

Coding Our Gifts…

The gifts are wrapped and placed under the tree for opening on Christmas morning. They are not from Santa as in our home he had already arrived on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th. The gifts are from Himself and I. The kids like to paw their gifts before Christmas so I had devised a plan to avoid their guesses. Each gift is coded with a name, not theirs. On Christmas morning the code is broken. The first year they were alpha, bravo, and charlie. The second year they were Monday’s, Friday’s, and Thursday’s Child. The days each were born on. This one really stumped them. This year it is Tom, Dick, and Harry for the three tunnels in the movie The Great Escape. Zuzu has already asked, “Who’s Harry?”

Have you ever seen these?

These are nifty glasses given to us by my SIL, Ellen. I pack them away each year so that we can look at the tree through them. Each pair turns the lights on the tree to a different symbol.

A Snowman…

A Star…

And A Snowflake…

Cool huh? Just don’t wear them at night while driving.


Other than all the homemade goodies, both sweet and savory, on the table, I like to put out some candies from Wythe’s Candy and Gourmet Shop in Williamsburg. Ribbon Candy is a must. We like the Christmas Mix and the Licorice Bridge Mix too. The Smooth N Melty’s are for our hot cocoa on top of a mound of whipped cream of course!


I like to enter this time of year with a cleaned up house so I can rest up during the Hol(y)days too. In yesterday’s post you can see how I destroyed my pantry during my huge baking week and now I am happy to say it is back to normal.

PS- Our Christmas Eve festivites begin when the children see the first star of the night. Himself has done this with them since our first was a wee one. They get so excited when one of them spots the first star and they coming running back into the house to announce to me that Christmas has begun!

PPS- When Zuzu was a newborn, we took him and his older brother to find our Christmas tree. We were living in Germany at the time. We got to the place and as we all got out of the car and closed the doors we realized that we had locked baby Zuzu in the car. It was extremely cold and we panicked. Some tried to help us get the car open while someone called the Polizei. Over an hour, 4 Polizei, and some nifty James Bond Gadgets later, we had Zuzu out. Do you think Mary ever locked baby Jesus on a donkey, because the Bible dosen’t say?

Have a Magical Eve as it starts with the sight of the first star of the night!


  1. HoneyB
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for a glimpse of your Christmas home….Happy Holidays!

  2. Rindy R
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    What wonderful Christmas traditions! Thanks for sharing them with us – I saw one I’m am going to do with my kids next year! Thanks!

  3. Dawn
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    I love your Christmas traditions…thanks for sharing.
    And a very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  4. Karen
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    Very, very nice. I hope you and your family have a happy and blessed Christmas. I love the idea about coding the gifts so the kids don’t poke around in them! That wouldn’t have worked for me though – I had only one daughter… she knew all the gifts were for her!!!

  5. Alexa
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Robin Sue!

  6. Lori
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

    That’s so funny. My Mom just told us when she was a child that they couldnt eat Christmas Eve until the first star was sighted. Wish I had know about that years ago.

    Merry Christmas to you Robin Sue. I love to visit your blog. Always so me neat stuff, nice writing and good ideas. A pleasure!

  7. noble pig
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

    What wonderful traditions you have, you are a wonderful mother! Enjoy your days with the family!

  8. DonnaJ
    Posted December 24, 2008 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

    Hi Robin!

    What I used to do was wrap the kids gifts in different paper and not use tags. One son in snowmen, one son in Mickey Mouse and my daughter in Santa (or something like that). They would find out Christmas morning which wrapping paper was theirs. It worked great for years. Now that I have remarried and have 7 kids to wrap for, I just wrap and tag.

    Merry Christmas!
    DonnaJ (Sabrina’s sis in law)

  9. Robin Sue
    Posted December 25, 2008 at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas Everyone! Thanks for the comments.

    Rindy- Which One?

    Donna- GREAT idea! I will have to use that one for sure. Merry Christmas!

  10. Joan Nova
    Posted December 26, 2008 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading your family traditions. Lovely and meaningful. I enjoyed the gift coding. I’ve got a post headed to the blogosphere about our traditions (probaby tomorrow). P.S. Glad to see you cleaned the pantry!

  11. bakingblonde
    Posted December 26, 2008 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

    I LOVE your pantry! Wish I had one. Seeing your organization has inspired me to clean out my cupboards this weekend!

  12. That Girl
    Posted December 29, 2008 at 2:20 AM | Permalink

    Merry belated Christmas!

  13. Ingrid
    Posted December 29, 2008 at 10:58 PM | Permalink

    The pantry looks good!

    My Christmas tree is a lot like yours in that the kids decorate it on their own (pretty much) with their ornaments, placed where ever they like and I lOVE it!

  14. Joie de vivre
    Posted December 31, 2008 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

    What wonderful traditions. I love the wooden nativity set. We have a playmobile set. I assume Mary didn’t ride the donkey. When I was about 6-7 months pregnant, I was in a car trying to go over an extremely bumpy road. We were going very slow, but after a minute or two I had had enough. I got out of the car and announced that I would rather walk that go through that. I assume riding a donkey would be the same. I love your tradition of the first star too. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  15. Rachelle
    Posted January 2, 2009 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

    Those glasses are the neatest thing! Where could I find some? Cool idea on the gift codeing!

  16. Gigi
    Posted January 11, 2009 at 4:42 PM | Permalink

    I’d love to know where you got your Nativiy!

  17. Robin Sue
    Posted January 11, 2009 at 11:08 PM | Permalink

    Rachelle- The glasses are by Gemini Specs.


    Gigi- I purchased the Naivity Set 11 years ago in Germany. It is by Haba. They do have a wooden set now but it is a bit different than mine. We love ours and my kids love playing with it. You should see some of the “stables” they build. Hope this helps.

  18. Jamie Wyatt
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    Your post made me smile, at first, then laugh out loud! I just found a “Christmas Trivia” quiz that talks about what is, and is not, in the Gospel’s rendition of THE Christmas Story, and obtained permission to post it in a blog! Our family does most of the same things you does, regarding traditions. Our tree looks very similar to yours, too.

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