Wednesday, November 20, 2013

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions} Day One: A Stream of Consciousness Introduction and Christmas Playlist

**Updated Playlist - my Dad reminded me I forgot a couple favorites!**

I LOVE Christmastime.

Seth's 1st Christmas

Avery's 1st Christmas

Everything in me wants to put on Christmas music and decorate our flat November 1st. Recently, my German friend, Susi, asked me when the decking of the halls would happen in the Ince Household.  Sheepishly I admitted that I really wanted to do it November 16th, but I was forcing myself to wait until the following weekend because we were having new friends over for dinner that night, and I didn't want them to think I was weird. (Just keepin' it real.) Turns out the joke was on me because my new friend (also American) had decorated her flat earlier that day. Ha! Susi was surprised saying she heard the rule was to decorate after Thanksgiving.

I may or may not have had a visceral reaction.

I used to buy into this.  That is when my mom decorated as did all of my friends' moms when I was growing up. But once I realized how much work it is (and how cosy it makes the house feel), I decided it's too much work not to start enjoying it in November.  I love having my Christmas decorations up for Thanksgiving - it's festive!  It heralds in the Christmas season! And let's be serious, who wants to decorate their house directly after making Thanksgiving dinner? Not me!

Each year I obsess think about how to combat being too focused on gift receiving, Santa Claus, and the whole secular side of Christmas.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Santa by any means, but I don't want my kids to be more excited about presents than

God coming down.

I'm not naive, I don't expect Seth to prefer Jesus over presents at age 3 - I think that is not realistic for a 3 year old, but I do want Him to know why we celebrate and give gifts, and for Jesus not to be eclipsed by Old Saint Nick.  Is this possible?  Do we need to punt Santa Claus?


I loved the way my parents did Christmas.  It was truly magical and my siblings and I allowed each other to "believe" way longer than most.  Santa Claus was an integral part. I never felt like my parents lied to me in allowing us to believe in him.

I think it's important to reevaluate each year and have an open heart about doing things differently than the way we grew up.  Possibly to lose a little magic to gain a little wonder.  And not doing things just because everybody else is doing them (what?! You're not saying 30 something moms still fall into this trap...right?).  On the other hand, I don't want to be an extreme-o Pharisee parent that my kids grow up hating because we were too Christian for that mumbo jumbo you call Santa Claus and presents. {Disclaimer: I am not saying you are automatically an extreme-o Pharisee if your family chooses to not to do Santa - it's all about the heart behind why you're doing what you're doing!}

I want Jesus to be our focus and I want my kids to experience the magic and wonder of Christmas.  I think we can do both.

I've loved getting ideas from other bloggers - some who are even more Christmas crazy than I am! So I decided that for the next few weeks I'm going to be a dedicated blogger and share some of the fun ideas I've come across on blogs and Pinterest in addition to some of our already established Christmas traditions. I'm not sure how often I'm doing this because I didn't brainstorm ahead of time (surprise, surprise), but off the top of my head I just realized there are 12 days left of November and that goes with 12 days of Christmas...ahhh!  An idea is born.  There you have it - 12 Days of Christmas Traditions: Just in time for those of you who wait until December 1st to start decorating. :)  Though let's be realistic, it's highly unlikely I'll post on the weekends, so this will bleed into December or I might only have 8 topics...I guess we'll find out!  If I was really on top of it (and not to mention computer savvy), I'd have a cute graphic to go with it too.  And I'd put it on my FB page.  But we all know how likely that is since the last time I posted on that was probably January 2012.

So for today first things first.  My Christmas playlist.  You have to have it playing before you can begin any Christmas shenanigans (designing your Christmas cards, decorating your house, etc), so I thought it only right to begin here.  Here is a list of my very favorite Christmas songs new and old - I tried to keep it at 10, but that was impossible, so I went with 25.  If you don't feel like listening to all of them (Ebenezer), make sure you at least listen to the last 2.  Happy listening!

Robin's Christmas Playlist (though in reality it's much longer because the whole Charlie Brown and Home Alone sound tracks would be on there too!):

1. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams - mandate to be number one on the list
2. It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble - this is a new addition this year thanks to Shay
3. Jingle Bells by Frank Sinatra - this isn't any old rendition of Jingle Bells, it's the best. The only problem with listening to it in Scotland is my brother, Mark, isn't singing along with me though I know somehow he knows I'm listening to it and all the way on Maui he's humming it too.
4. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole - nothing needs to be said here but classic
5. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey - Seth and Avery beg me to drop whatever I'm doing and dance whenever this song comes on - Kaitlyn, you now have little people you can boss around and make up dance routines with (not that I know anybody who would do that!) ;)
6. Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys - my dad raised us on the Beach Boys!
7. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
8. Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant - when I accosted Taylor with, "favorite Christmas song GO" this is the one he chose, and this my friends is why he's my best friend.
9. To Be with You by Sara Groves - this one kills me this year since we're not going home for Christmas for the first time EVER.  Sob.  So if I am able to listen to it, it will definitely be followed by the next two songs and a phone call to Mom.
10. Blue Christmas by Elvis
11. Please Come Home for Christmas by The Eagles - Don Henley - lyrical perfection in a musical era when it didn't matter what you said or even if your song made sense at all
12. Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby - feeling like I need another Hawaiian Christmas soon...fancy a jump off of Black Rock, Craig?
13. Sweet Bells by Kate Rusby - But I'm looking forward to experiencing a Scottish Christmas - this one is a shout out to Murdo for introducing us to the magnificent Kate
14. Believe by Josh Groban - I know these are the worst lyrics ever (I used to have my English students write a paper on this), but I still love the music, his voice, and the feeling the song creates.  It feels like Christmas to me.
14. O Little Town of Bethlehem by Sarah Mclachlan - let's just reflect on these words versus the song prior...maybe we should write a paper about it?
15. Grown Up Christmas List by Amy Grant - Christmas staple in our house - I could just play all of Amy Grant's Christmas albums one after the other and be happy.
16. Here With Us by Joy Williams - this may be my favorite non-Christmas carol song ever.
17. Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice - or maybe this one
18. I Need a Silent Night by Amy Grant - this song sums up my Christmas conundrum.
19. O Come O Come Emmanuel by Selah - haunting, gives me chills
20. Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Amy Grant - this is my favorite Christmas carol; the lyrics are so rich!
21. I heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crown - "anointed" according to my mom-in-law - SO glad she introduced me to this song - thanks Mia!
23. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland - love me some Meet Me in St. Louis
24. Come and Worship (Angels from the Realms of Glory) by Bebo Norman - OK this might be my absolute favorite Christmas song/carol - can't get through it without crying. Love it!
25. Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy) by Chris Tomlin - have to end with this one - love this rendition so much!  Might shed a tear for this one too. :)

*Christmas Must Be Something More by Taylor Swift - inspired no doubt by one of my very favorite Christmas Stories (post on that coming very soon!)
*A Strange Way to Save the World by 4Him - here's some 90s goodness for you (don't miss the mullet!) - can't believe I forgot my Mom's favorite Christmas Song!
A few other honorable mentions because I just can't resist!: Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant, Carol of the Bells by Barlow Girl (though the Home Alone version is my preferred), Joseph's Lullaby by Mercy Me, and O Holy Night by David Archuleta (remember that guy?!). Ok, I have to stop of this list will be never ending! Leave a comment if I left off your favorite - I'd love to listen to it!

Tomorrow's topic (and it's a controversial one): The Elf on the Shelf.  To do it or not to do it...that is the question.


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