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Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways (with Ann Swindell)

Winners announced here! Congratulations!

*Give Away has Ended*

It’s Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!

If you’re just joining in, start at Day One here.

11th Annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways (2018) December 4-15 at karenehman.com.

Today’s guest is Ann Swindell. Ann and I became friends when she joined our First 5 app Bible teaching team at Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is an author who loves to help others fulfill their dream of writing. She resides in Texas with her family. You are going to love hearing about a favorite family tradition. You may even want to adopt it yourself! Now, here’s Ann…


When I was a kid, our family jumped in the car the day after Christmas to drive up to Michigan and spend our “second Christmas” with my mom’s side of the family. We all piled into one house, and the chaos of cousins and aunts and uncles made the house ring with laughter and conversation. There were two things I loved most about these “second Christmases;” while I couldn’t have named it this way as a child, it was that the sacred and the silly flowed together, and I love that Christmas has room for both.

The Sacred: All of us—aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins and grandparents—stood in a circle to sing Christmas hymns. Joy to the World, Silent Night, Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming: they pointed us to Jesus and to the grace we were experiencing by being together. It didn’t hurt that my extended family often sang in two- or three-part harmony; the loveliness of it was nearly overwhelming for me as a child.

The Silly: The next day, after the big meal, we all sat down for the Annual Snowball Ice Cream Race. Don’t know what that is? I’m not sure anyone does except our family! My grandma started the tradition by scooping vanilla ice cream into balls, covering them with coconut flakes, and then sticking a birthday candle in each one. Somehow, family members started trying to see who could keep their candle burning the longest, and a tradition was born long before I was.

By the time I was old enough to participate, the rules had become clear: absolutely no touching the candle with your fingers—the fork was the only way to manipulate the ice cream and the candle. Doors were not allowed to be opened near the candles, and sneezing was highly frowned upon. Uncle Steve was often the official timer and brought his stopwatch for the occasion. Techniques had been honed and shared with younger generations—candles burned longer when they were placed on their side near the edge of the porcelain plate (no paper plates allowed near open flame!), and avoiding the melting ice cream was of paramount importance. Races sometimes took nearly an hour; family members kept those tiny candles burning as long as possible, and winners were often determined in a difference of seconds.

The winner every year received a family plaque and bragging rights, plus a $20 bill slipped to them with a wink by grandpa. Why did we do this? Because it was fun, and because it was family, and because it was our thing—a way to mark the time and the years together, just as we did with singing hymns.

The Lord loves our praise and our songs and our reverence, and He also delights in our laughter and our silliness and our fun. Christmas is beautiful enough to contain both—the glory and the laughter, the sacred and the silly, hymns and ice cream together.

What is a sacred, or silly, tradition you did as a kid or one your family currently does? I would love to read about it in the comments.

Day 8 Giveaway

Ann is giving away a copy of her book, Still Waiting: Hope When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want, and a $15 e-gift card to Starbucks.

Enter to win Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways with Ann Swindell at karenehman.com.


Ann Swindell is a writer and speaker who is committed to seeing women set free by the love of Christ. She writes for multiple publications and is the author of Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want. She has been joyfully married to Michael for over a decade and they are raising their two blue-eyed kids in Texas. Ann loves helping other writers share their stories beautifully and powerfully through her ministries, Writing with Grace and The Writing Mom Course.

12 Days of Christmas Giveaways Rules
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11th Annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways (2018) December 4-15 at karenehman.com.

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  1. We use toothpicks (one is shortened) to determine who hands out gifts first. The silliness comes from my dad playing tricks with the toothpicks.

  2. I don’t know if I remember one as a kid but as I’ve got older and had my own children, we get together with our families and we laugh cut up, eat a LOT, play dirty Santa and the last few years we have played the Saran Wrap game. It’s always a blast with my crew!!

  3. We have a sacred tradition with my grandma where we all go to her church for Christmas Eve service. She now has 7 great grandchildren and we’ve been able to go with all of them as well.

  4. Absolutely my favorite so far! First- you had me at ice cream & coconut!! Yum! Second…our family, we are firm believers in laughter!! It’s what we do best but I know that there is a joy in that laughter together that Jesus sees and He blesses that time like no other! Thank you for sharing

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