Making the Magic of Christmas


“Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved” – Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story 

I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas and the entire Christmas season. Dare I say I even start my season early? Like right after Halloween early? I do and I am not ashamed to say it.
My husband hates how early I want to bring the season to life. He fights me on it every year. He claims that it is because Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday and Santa shouldn’t encroach upon it. In reality, I think he is just in no rush to climb up and hang Christmas lights outside or pull the Christmas trees down from the attic.

The Wonder of It All

Christmas has always felt like a magical season for me. It is a time of year where the world seems more hopeful and a little bit lighter. I genuinely appreciate that joy and levity as I grow older.
The wonder of the holiday season has evolved for me over the years. I went from being the child whose eyes lit up at the arrival of Santa Claus to being the Mom who treasures the moments when my children’s eyes light up at the wonder of magic of the season.

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.

The Trees

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

I love ornaments! Big surprise, right? They are one of my favorite gifts to give for big occasions like weddings, births, or graduations. My heart explodes with holiday cheer each year when I visit Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan, and add to my collection.
Each year we add several new ornaments to our collection. I get one that represents something about our year be it a vacation we took or a life event that we experienced. Then each of our kids picks two ornaments. I try to guide them to pick one that represents something they really like in the past year and one that represents something they did. For example, last year my oldest daughter began playing lacrosse and she really fell in love with reading. She picked an ornament with a girl playing lacrosse and an ornament that was a stack of books.
We mark each new ornament with the kid’s name and the year so we can remember. It gives a way to always remember years gone by. The other part of this tradition that is so special to me is that when my children grow up and move out, I plan to give them a set of their ornaments for them to have and use on their trees. They will end up with 18 ornaments of their own that are full of memories of Christmas at home and my husband will have the other 18 for our tree.

That Elf

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!

 Christmas Outings

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.



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