Christmas Traditions to Start
My daughter recently declared this really is the most wonderful time of the year. She stated that I start my marathon of cooking the best food and treats and making our house feel and smell homey. It was fun to hear her perspective and know she not only looked forward to, but felt so loved this time of year.
I love that my kids appreciate our traditions and it’s always a good time to start, whether they are toddlers or teens! I’ve found over the years that the most important thing is being consistent and just spending time together. We all get so busy and then we have even more to do and events to be at during the end of the year. So let go of the guilt, do what you can, set a budget and enjoy the time making memories.
Cut down our tree
We kick off our Christmas season cutting down our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. We have a farm that we’ve gone to since before the kids were even born. We tromp through the woods with saw in hand and debate the merits of each tree. Then we cut greens from deadfall for our window boxes and end up getting coffee and hot chocolate at Starbucks afterwards. One year we had enough snow and left snowmen in the woods for others find and other years we’ve taken our family picture. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time we spend (some years as teenagers the kids wanted to get it over quickly) but it’s become a tradition that my kids would miss if we didn’t do it.
Deck the halls
Decorating our tree is also a family affair. We all bring up the bins and boxes from the basement and my husband untangles the lights while our kids put up wreaths and set decorations around each room. There are certain things that go in the same places every year - the stockings on the stair banister with greens, the mini stocks hung at the back door, mercury glass trees on the dining room table, the wreath on the front door. Everyone makes me string the lights since I load them on the tree (you really can’t have too many white lights)! Hanging the ornaments that we’ve collected over the years is done by us all and my daughter makes sure we have Christmas music playing the entire time. Our kids usually argue over who’s going to put the star on the tree and that caps the end to our afternoon together.
When our kids were young, we had an advent wreath that had containers that I filled with candy and a scripture for the day that they would read before going to school. As they got older I started drawing on our wall chalkboard an advent scripture and would add to it each day through the season. Another way we kept our minds on why our family celebrates Christmas, is reading Christmas devotions. I have a treasured book given to me from a friend while in college and it's written and illustrated by a woman living in Nicaragua. Her art and words were influenced by that culture and it’s been a meaningful addition to our Christmas traditions over the years.
Bake some cookies
My mom has always made tons of cookies so we started making Christmas candies instead. Homemade truffles, chocolate bark, rum balls, buckeyes, and fudge usually make the list with new recipes tried out each year. My kids usually pitch in and then we package up little bags of goodies and deliver them to our neighbors if life isn’t feeling too hectic. It’s just another way to remember others during this time of year.
Adopt a family
For years we adopted a family and brought the fixings for a meal and wrapped presents. The past few years we’ve given practical gift cards (like gas cards, movies, local coffee and sub shops, grocery cards) to the local high schools for teens that are homeless or couch surfing. It’s been a great way for my own teens to realize the needs around them and do something helpful about it.
Some of our traditions have remained the same and become cherished over the years and some have changed or new ones started. The main things I strive for during a busy time of year is to soak up the moments, make little memories rather than grand gestures, and to give more to others than ourselves. Those are some of the best presents of all!