“Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved” – Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story
The Wonder of It All
What Makes A Tradition?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines tradition in part as “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom).”
I try to create some pretty memorable moments for my family around the holiday season. I would love to be able to leave my kids with a few traditions that they will remember as they age and maybe even carry on with their future families. Some of the activities we do around Christmas are so simple, but they are memorable and my kids look forward to them each year.
Oh yeah, you read that right. It says trees. We have trees as in more than one. We currently have two Christmas trees, but if I could talk my husband into it we would definitely have more.
Our Christmas trees go up on Black Friday. We start with the one in our dining room and then move to the one in the living room. The dining room tree contains more of the handmade ornaments and ones that my husband and I have from our childhood. The living room tree has more of the breakable ornaments on it. The kids love tree trimming day and have so much fun putting the ornaments on the trees. I have long ago given up having the perfectly decorated tree and embraced the joy in watching my kids cluster ornaments wherever they like.
Speaking of Ornaments
Okay, that stupid elf is one tradition I started that I wish I hadn’t. There, I said it and now I feel a little better. But, seriously? I hate that elf. The only reason I gave and got one is that my girls begged for one and it seemed like a fun idea at the time.
I will admit that it is a lot of fun to watch my kids hunt for our elf “Watch” each morning after she makes her arrival from the North Pole on the morning of Thanksgiving. They take a lot of delight in the antics our elf finds herself in, but I promise nothing causes me more sheer panic first thing in the morning than waking up and realizing that I didn’t move the elf!
We try to get out and enjoy some fun holiday-themed activities each year. There is always something fun to do no matter what our family finds themselves enjoying at the time.
We make a visit to the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo at least once each season. The past few years we have tried to sneak in breakfast with Santa. Last year, we had pancakes and eggs with the Jolly Old Elf on two different occasions. We’ve also ridden the Polar Express, gone to a Christmas tree farm, and we’ve gone back in time to celebrate Christmas traditions of days gone by at the Henry Ford during their Holiday Nights experience.
We visit with Santa each year at Bass Pro Shops because, let’s face it, this mom is cheap and the picture is free. The kids get dressed in Santa-themed outfits or shirts and we meet up with our best friends and their kids and we get a big group picture together. This is usually followed up with lunch after.
The Reason for the Season
I would be remiss not to mention that we also take time to recount the Christmas story each season. My grandfather built a nativity scene set years ago that was set up each season in my grandparents’ home. He gifted it to me when I got married and I set it up in a special place of honor year after year.
We recall the Christmas story as we assemble the set and place it out each year. It is important that they understand the significance and importance of it. I believe that my kids will never be too old to experience the wonder of it all and never too young to understand the meaning behind it.
Twas the Night Before Christmas
Christmas Eve is almost as exciting to me as Christmas Day. I think it is the pure anticipation of all the joy my kids will experience and give me and the combination of the time spent with family.
Between all the family visiting and activity, we try to carve out some special time for our little family each Christmas Eve. I buy the all my kids special holiday-themed pajamas each year they wear and fix them up with a cup of hot chocolate. We watch The Polar Express together and then my husband reads Twas the Night Before Christmas right before bed.
I know as my children age they may begrudgingly go along with some of the traditions we have been crafting and that’s okay. The magic may fade a little for them along with their belief in Santa. My hope is that someday they will look back remember the love and the excitement and the time spent together no matter where they are in life or the world. In that way, we will all always be together and these times together will live on long after I am gone.