Growing up we did not have a lot of holiday traditions.
We did not do the same things, the same way every single year of my childhood. It was not until I was 22 years old, when I started dating someone new, that I even realized families had so many traditions.
In this guys family, they had quite a few even outside of the holidays. Things were always the same. You always knew what to expect.
Now that I have my own family, the idea of having traditions makes my heart flutter. I want our family to do the same things each year, at the same time, at the same place. With our kids complaining because we never do anything different. Not realizing until they are older how nice it is to have these traditions that they can then use with their own family.
Here are some of the traditions that my family has held onto so far.
Christmas tree. We get bundled up and go to the nearest Christmas tree farm to find, saw down, and bring home our fresh smelling, beautiful, sappy tree. We have historically done this on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving each year. Then we spend that evening setting up and decorating this find of ours.
Ornaments. Each year that my husband and I have been together, we get each get a new ornament for tree. Since having children, they also receive a new ornament. It is something special to represent a moment, a trip, a hobby, an obsession at the time – whatever catches my eye and feels like it represents that person. For instance, this year I accidentally came across this ornament at Hallmark and it SCREAMED Camden at the top of its lungs. He is obsessed with play-doh right now. He asks for it constantly and will play with it for hours. So it was the perfect fit for this year. Also shown is the ornament my husband got for me last year and the ornament we picked up for our pup, Tank.
Along with the ornament that I shop for to represent their year, we also ALWAYS make an ornament. Whether its cinnamon, salt dough, a ceramic one we buy and paint – whatever the case may be, we always make/decorate one to show the progress made in art skills over the years.
Christmas Eve box. This tradition only began last year, even then it was a stretch because of the kids age. Though I have high hopes for it this year. I fill a box with new pjs for everyone, Christmas movies, a plate for Santas cookies, popcorn, hot chocolate mix, and the new ornaments. Then on Christmas Eve we open it up and enjoy hanging our new ornaments on the tree, wearing our new pajamas, while snuggling up to watch a new Christmas movie before bed with our popcorn and hot chocolate.
Twelve Days of Christmas books. Last year, I decided I was going to do a twelve days of Christmas gift with Camden. He is such a reader that I thought it made perfect sense to buy twelve books and each night leading up to Christmas, he could one present and have a new book to read. He was young, but still very excited plus I got to read something different each night instead of the same books we had been reading. This year it is happening again! Except baby sister is in on the event too. We decided that because the kids are very different levels, it only made sense to buy twelve books for each child. Yes, I purchased twenty-four books. In order to accomplish this, I spent two solid hours sitting on the floor at Barnes & Noble with each kids pile of books spread out to ensure that it made sense. I only purchased two Christmas books each, one for Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day. That way we can still read the other ten year round.
Christmas cookies. I enjoy baking very much so being able using baking as a tradition is a win win for me. I let Camden decorate our special cookies for Santa and look forward to also allowing Lily to partake in this tradition this year.
Lastly, our Christmas Day in front of the Christmas tree picture. Every year for as long as Michael and I have been together – we have taken this picture. Us in front of the Christmas tree. Every year I gaze at the differences between our first year and our most recent. How we’ve grown, how our family has grown, whether or not my hair is the same (it never is). It is cliche, but it is ours.
This year we are also introducing the Elf on the Shelf for the first time. I am actually really excited to create new and different ways to surprise the kids each morning with him.
Some of these may seem silly, but to me they are everything.
The nights we spend opening new books, feeding their imagination with the new stories and fairytales. The always exciting night before Santa comes when we cuddle up in our new pajamas to watch a Christmas movie. The ornaments we take out year after year and reminisce. The memories of walking through the farm looking for the perfect tree.
I would not trade these for anything. Looking forward to continuing them every year until my children are grown and bring back my grandchildren to enjoy.
What traditions does your family have? Share them with me!