Life without tradition is mundane. Okay, being forced to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” every Christmas as a child was pretty mundane too, but traditions can be fun and enjoyed by all. When you grow up and become a big strapping adult like we all are, excitement is not built into your life like it was when you were younger: first date, prom, graduations, etc. At some point, if you want your life to be a celebration, then you have to start celebrating. You know, putting on your proverbial party pants. Just don’t put on your birthday suit. Really, that suit has never been the optimal choice for parties.
I put together a list of fun Christmas traditions you can do with your family and children. My mom was a stellar rock star princess at making our lives and holidays worthwhile and as mother of one toddler and one on the way, I LIVE to do this for my children. That could be one reason why I put my Christmas tree up on November 1st, I suppose. Merry Christmas to all!
1. WRAPPING PAPER
Yes, wrapping paper can be and was a tradition for us growing up. Maybe this is where I got my intense love of wrapping gifts? Hmmmmm, this post is like some sort of awesome therapy.
When we were children and woke up on Christmas morning, we would walk into the living room and find 4 piles of gifts, one pile for each of us. They never had names on them but we knew by the paper which gifts were ours. Every year my
mom Santa, would pick out paper that had something to do with our lives and the things we loved that year. If you liked polar bears well dang it, find the polar bear pile. Cabbage Patch paper? Well, Merry Christmas to me!
Each year it was exciting to see what special paper would signal that you had arrived at your Mecca of gifts. I adored that tradition!
2. REINDEER HUNT
Now, I missed this tradition with my mom because of our family’s unique situation. I grew up the youngest of 4 children and when I was 18, my mom adopted a sibling group. Now that she has 4 new kids, she has started some new traditions.
My mom and siblings live out on some land in the country so on Christmas Eve, they go on a Reindeer Hunt. Walking down the their long, country drive way, flashlights in hand, they sprinkle “reindeer food” aka glitter mixed with oats, down the drive. They also drop some carrots along the way. The fun in this is that the actual deer will come over night and eat their carrots and the children will look to find the food gone! Magical, just like it should be! You could do this in your yard and chomp some of your own carrots after your children go to bed, just to give your kids a thrill. Hey, if all else fails, you will have some really sparkly deer, dogs, and cats running around and nothing says Christmas like some glitter animal bedazzling.
Image from Beauty and Bedlam.com
3. SLEEPING IN THE SAME ROOM
My whole life all of my siblings slept in the same room on Christmas Eve night. We would get into our sleeping bags, negotiate an acceptable wake up time with our parents (usually about 5 am), and go to bed all together and all excited the night before. Then in the morning, like a pack of giddy holiday wolves, we would walk as a group up the staircase, getting the first glance of our stockings hanging on the mantle at the same time! It gets me so excited just reliving it that I could scream, “candy canes!” I think that’s the mark of a successful tradition.
We actually loved this so much as kids that we continued this tradition in to the college years.
4. CALLIGRAPHY…YEP, Calligraphy
Yes, this can be a fun tradition, too. Calligraphy: It’s not just for Benjamin Franklin.
Many Christmases, I/we would leave a note for Santa with our stockings. I will never forget the Christmas that I opened my letter and across the whole page was a big “Merry Christmas” written by Santa! It was in calligraphy, of course, because Santa doesn’t have poor penmanship. What do you think he is, the Easter Bunny? Give me a break.
I couldn’t believe that I was holding a letter that had been touched and written on by the illusive Santa!!! I cherished it like I would have an autograph from New Kids on the Block. The only difference is, I wanted to marry Joey McIntire, not Santa.
5. ADVENT CALENDARS
Ah, what better way to count down to a day full of candy filled stockings than with a calendar with a daily chocolatey countdown treats? Of course, you can always do just the paper advent calendars if you want to suppress your child’s sweet tooth.
Again, my mom would buy us each our own little countdown calendar for our rooms so that we each had our own little box to open up every day on our way one step closer to Christmas.
My mother gave us calendars until just a few years ago and now, buys them for our children.
6. ORNAMENT STORIES
On Christmas Eve, my parents gave each of us an ornament. They were always wrapped like gifts and big shock, represented something about our lives that year. They never missed a year and we got them at least until we were 18 and each one had our names and the year written on the bottom we would never forget the year that ornament was special. Our tree would always be made up of all of these ornaments that had to do with us/their children and it was almost like a story tree.
I can still remember the one my sister got of the NYC skyline that had a moving train that went through it. It was the year she went on a school trip to the Big Apple and naturally, it was the perfect choice. It was neat to see not only what I got but what my siblings got, too.
Now, that I’m such a total big girl with a family of my own, I’m doing this for my kids on their own Christmas tree in their rooms. Until they get their own hardy ornament supply, I’m using the ones my mother got me on their trees and it’s really neat to show them to my own children.
7. COOKIE DAY
This tradition started later in the life of my family but works for a family of any size, with any age of children.
One day in December, all of the girls in my family get together and bake cookies. We all bring different recipes and make an enormous amount of cookies that would embarrass the Cookie Monster himself. Each family gets to take some cookies home and the rest can be given to friends, church family, neighbors, taken to nursing homes, or whatever you want to do with your cookies.
The little ones can help out and decorate ones of their own which make cute little treats for grandparents, teachers, etc. when put in small Christmas bags or boxes.
Get to baking, Sally. People need their Christmas cookies. Not to mention, cookies are sort of the second portal that draws Santa to your house. The chimney being the first, of course.
Image credit allthingsshabbyandbeautiful.tumblr.com
No matter what you choose to do for your family, when it comes to making the special details of life special, I think of a the very wise, Snoopy.
When he would get his food bowl, he would dance over it. It may be the same food and it may happen daily, but he celebrated that food.
In life, special days and big events come few and far between. Sometimes you just have to be like Snoopy dancing over the small things in life. I like to think of family traditions as a way to “dance over the food bowl” on the way to bigger, more exciting days. No one is going to do the dancing for you and your kids won’t learn to dance if you don’t. I like to think that I’m the Snoopy to my children’s every day life.
Just like my mother was to me.
I hope you enjoy these traditions just like I did every year growing up. Feel free to share your family Christmas traditions in the comment section whether they are ones you practice or ones you hope to do in the future. And as I say every November 30th, Merry Christmas!!!!!
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