I grew up in a family where gift giving was kept separate from the understanding of the Christ child being born. Mind, it was always somehow connected in the minds of us children, but my parents tried to keep it somewhat separated. My hubby grew up with gifts on Christmas morning and then heading off to church. As a family we sometimes don't quite no how to make it work, but we generally always have a good time a Christmas regardless. :)
One of the things I did when I was single was to make plates of goodies for my neighbours. Doing that now is a tad difficult so we've changed it to an almost annual Open House.. we miss sometimes due to health factors and what not, but generally we Open our doors to friends, family and church folk to visit us. I put out a spread of food, clean the house really well, and will get out stuff for the children do if any come. :)
I've been collecting pieces over the last 15 years. It makes me smile and my boy loves to add his own little touch. This year it was numerous lego spiders and various Harry Potter figurines. Our student made me smile. You see, he's been heavily into basketball and has been coimng home exhausted. After a nap, while I set things up, he came down stairs, saw my village and gave me the biggest grin and then had to check out my train. ) He gave everything a good going over and then said "is nice". :) I agree.. it is nice. :)
We also do a advent. Sometimes I buy the cheap calendars with chocolate in them, this year we went with the Lego Advent Calendar. It's not a true Advent as it's just the 24 days before Christmas. But we do readings along with it. We are alternating this year between Professor Carol's advent reading and reading Bible passages. Keeps things a bit different you know. :) We tried doing a Jesse' tree one year but found it didn't work for our family well.
So tell me please.... what are some of YOUR Christmas traditions?