Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Traditions

What would Christmas be without traditions?  We all have them.  I love and cherish ours. 

When Anthony and I got married, I have to admit that he thought some of my family’s traditions were really weird.  He was totally wrong.  Our traditions were really cool, not really weird.  But what did he know back then?  He’s adapted and has come to love the traditions that make Christmas special to me.  We’ve added a few of our own over the years, too. 

Anthony’s family didn’t have a whole lot of traditions so it was easy to push mine on him encourage him to adopt some of mine. 

I remember going to his Grandma’s and Grandpa’s Christmas party a couple of years in the beginning of our marriage but then it stopped.  From there, his family has put on their own Christmas party every year.

Traditions are what make Christmas Christmas, if you ask me.  It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without certain traditions.  Some of the traditions I just couldn’t live without include

  • decorating the Christmas tree (I know, original, right?)

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This is traditionally done at our house on the Monday after Thanksgiving as our Family Home Evening activity. 

Speaking of decorating the tree, that brings me to another of my favorite traditions.  This one began when K was very small.  My mom and dad buy each grandkid (that consists of only MY children… my siblings have no kids, yet) an ornament or set of ornaments each year.  Sometimes they all match and sometimes they are completely unique.  And almost ALWAYS, they are fragile.  You’ll notice on the tree below that there are no fragile ornaments amongst the clusters.  {The kids decorated}  We don’t put the fragile ornaments up with little ones around.  Especially not B and C.  They would ‘accidentally’ drop them to the floor on purpose… just to see what happens.  So, this is a ‘no fragile ornaments’ year.  It happens about every other year. 

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Another favorite tradition we have is opening one present on Christmas Eve.  It’s always pajamas courtesy of my parents.  Sometimes the adults get some but the kids know they’ll get new jammies every year.  I grew up with that tradition.  Anthony’s grandma used to make them each pajamas growing up to open on Christmas Eve.  I don’t think the tradition continued for him after she was no longer able to continue. 

One of Anthony’s traditions is Christmas Coke!  He has to buy a 6 pack of Christmas Coke every year.  He usually cracks into it when we put the tree up.  This year, C was determined to have a Christmas Coke as well.  He was NOT going to have the boring ol’ 2 liter of root beer poured into a cup. 

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Little does he know that we poured the root beer into an empty Coke bottle.  We win!!  He sure was proud of that Christmas ‘Coke’!

Christmas Eve brings a few other traditions at our house besides the jammies.  We always read the REAL Christmas story from the Bible just before bedtime.  But before that, we read a Christmas book.  We try to get a new one each year but we’ve had years that it just isn’t feasible to do.  Those are the years we read a book that we already own.  We all agree on our favorite but I can’t reveal it yet.  That’s in another post ;)

We also have to make cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.  It’s a must!  We also leave carrots out for the reindeer which the girls swear they hear them munching on above them on the roof.  They hear it every year!  Oh, and they hear Santa’s milk cup being set down as well.  It’s kind of crazy.

Another tradition we have during the holidays is baking for our neighbors.  My mom and I (along with several other relatives) have been getting together to bake cookies and other goodies for the past several years…. which reminds me… Um, mom?  When are we getting together?  We ARE baking, right?  It wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t!  People are counting on Greek cookies!  We HAVE to bake!!  “Do you hear what I’m tellin’ you?  The prince is marrying the sea witch… IN THE SKIES!!”  {That’s H’s rendition of the classic line from The Little Mermaid.  Just thought I’d throw that in there.}

Now, where was I?  Oh yes, baking.  We must bake.  That’s all.

More traditions… my kids would love for caroling to be a family tradition.  We did it once, a few years ago with a group from our ward.  SO FUN!  My little family on our own?  Hmm, not so much.  Probably would still be fun but seriously, no one wants to hear the adults in this family sing.  TRUST ME!  However, I hope to be remedying that very soon (details to come) ;)  Anthony will still have to stink at it.  Sorry, Mister…  But I’ll get better!

For now, I only carol in groups.  Large groups! 

Other traditions that we love include going to Temple Square to see the lights, driving around to different neighborhoods to see lights, and making gingerbread houses.

Christmas parties on both sides of the family include the White Elephant gift exchange (although it seems to work better for one side than the other… just sayin’). 

Nice gifts with price limits, not TRUE white elephant gifts like a used breast pump or something.  EW!  

Christmas day traditions are HUGE for me.  My absolute favorite tradition growing up?  Sending the little sister up to wake mom and dad (that way I wasn’t the one to get in trouble)………… at 4:00 a.m.  That’s right!  I could never ever sleep on Christmas Eve.  EVER!  That night always lasted way longer than normal, I swear. 

Unfortunately for me, my parents would never allow us to get up at 4:00 (I just don’t get it) so my sister and I would stay up watching A Christmas Story or The Wonder Years (it was a marathon every year) until mom and dad would let us get up.  Waiting until 7:30 was TORTURE!!

After seeing all that Santa had brought and opening gifts from parents, we’d get dressed and drive over to my Grandma’s house for waffles with strawberries and ice cream.  I don’t know how or when that tradition started.  I just know that it’s not Christmas without our waffle/strawberry/ice cream brunch.  That, right there, makes Christmas for me.  I could do without everything else as long as all my aunts, uncles, cousins, brother, sister, mom, dad, grandpa, kids, and husband are there to celebrate and eat waffles with me, I’d be happy as can be and my Christmas would be complete! 

And now you know some of my favorite traditions.  What are yours?  I’d love to hear!



Tristan said...

Our traditions:
Reading about Christ's life through the month of December, not just his birth but also about his mission and ministry.

Putting up a tree. This has changed over the years from putting it up the day after Thanksgiving to putting it up on Christmas Eve. Why? Because I have babies and toddlers every single year and they undecorate the tree and usually pull it over a bunch if we decorate any earlier!

Acting out the nativity story with the children.

Learning and practicing Christmas hymns and primary songs every day as a family. We also have a tradition of NOT teaching our children the world's Christmas songs focusing on Santa, reindeer, etc. No pathetic worldly substitutes to distract at our house, we want to focus on Christ.

Homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Yum!

RoryBore said...

we have a lot of the same traditions!
Our town's local Santa Claus parade starts the season off each year -- the weekend after American Thanksgiving.
We go to a local tree farm and cut down our own tree (very Griswald right?), then the decorating of said tree, and the house. The outside lights go up while the weather is still warm, but we don't turn them on until Dec. 1st.
We do some charity things also: filing shoeboxes, choosing a child from the Angel Tree, etc. Lots of baking to share with family and friends. We visit Santa at the mall for the annual (and often only) family picture.

I love that you also do a Christmas Eve gift! Normally they get pj's or soemthing similar -- this year they are all getting new bedding for their beds! ssshhhh! Before bed they also leave the cookies and milk for Santa, and I make "reindeer" food to spread outside, from oatmeal, brown sugar, and some glitter: so that it will shine in the night. If we are home we go to the Christmas Eve service, then it's home to bed!
We also read the bible story of Jesus's birth in the morning before ANY presents are opened.

After gifts: off to my family for a big, old fashioned country Christmas feast! And I mean tons of food -- enought to feed my big extended clan of around 60 people! No kidding. Every year as long as I have lived.

LeShel said...

My absolute favorite tradition is that I sleep under the Christmas tree with my boys. Kjel's all bah humbug so he stays in bed but the rest of us fall asleep staring at the christmas lights and chatting until we all fall asleep.

Love traditions SO much!

Cari said...

Fun traditions! Ours kind of change since we've never lived near family and would often get together with friends who were also far from home. Now that moving every few years is becoming more of a permanant thing for us we're trying to develop our own traditions. One thing we're trying this year is 25 days of Christmas scripture chain. The boys love taking a chain off each day and counting the days 'till Christmas. Another tradition we're trying this year is rather than having the presents labeled "from santa" we'll just have his presents be the stocking and have a present under the tree "from Jesus" which will be all the thankful notes we wrote in the month of November, so we can remember again everything that Jesus has given us.

Brooke said...

UNDER the tree, eh? Hmm, that sounds fun! One question though, do you do the whole Santa thing? If so, how does that work?

Brooke said...

I love the idea of the bedding this year. They will love that, I'm sure.

We've never done a real tree at our house. Maybe because I grew up with an artificial one so I guess that's why I've stuck with it.
And your family sounds as crazy as mine. I LOVE that part of Christmas!

Brooke said...

I think in Europe (or maybe just Germany) they decorate the trees on Christmas Eve! I could be wrong but I seem to remember that being the case.
I am fascinated that you don't do the Santa thing. Not that I think it's bad, just interesting. It certainly can get out of control but I think we (Anthony and I) do a pretty good job of keeping it under control. We try anyway.
Cinnamon rolls sound divine for breakfast! If we didn't already have a breakfast tradition, cinnamon rolls would definitely be my breakfast of choice.

Brooke said...

I have a cousin that moves a lot due to her husband being in the military. I look up to her so much because I don't know how she does it. The present 'from Jesus' is such a great idea! I may have to think ahead next year and use that one.