When I think about Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is all the fun holiday traditions that we take part in as a family and with friends. I start to imagine what this year’s experience will be like — and the planning begins. Hello, Pinterest boards!
Our season gets a kick off with picking out the perfect Christmas tree. While I grew up with a fake tree that I swear smelled like Christmas, in reality? It really smelled like tradition. Now we soak in all the Fir tree scent that we can. And we even use a funnel system for easy watering.
Once the tree gets home, we turn on the movie Christmas Vacation, and my husband gets down to business with the lights. After that, we dig through our giant bin of ornaments. They span the period of time from my childhood through our current year. And we always have a new one that represents an adventure from the past year. Our daughter always receives a new one as well. She will every year so that when she goes off on her own as an adult, she’ll take a lifetime of ornaments with her. I like envisioning her decorating her own tree and reminiscing over all the represented memories.
The next tradition kicks off on either the first or second weekend of December with my annual cookie exchange. In reality, it’s a mimosa-heavy brunch filled with food and laughter that ends with all attendees taking home three or four of each of the other attendees’ cookies! Everyone takes home three to four dozen cookies, thus ensuring spouses at home with the kids never complain too much that we always go way over on the time we say the event will last.
Thirteen days before Christmas, we begin our version of the advent calendar. There are twelve wrapped and numbered books in a basket under the tree. Each night before bed, we sit by the lights of the tree and our daughter opens a book. We read it together before she goes to sleep. It’s one of my favorite traditions, and it always ends on Christmas Eve with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. All of the books are “new” (we usually get new-to-us books at McKays, our local used bookstore) except The Grinch. That one we wre-wrap each year.
Throughout the month we are sure to fit in other activities like making cards for family, wrapping and decorating gifts, checking out the lights around town, watching Christmas movies, singing holiday songs, and making my mother in law’s sugar cookies. (They’re the best.)
On the evening of Christmas Eve, before we read The Grinch, we let our daughter open a new pair of pajamas and a movie that we then watch together as a family. This helps her calm a little of that excitement she has brewing for the next morning! We adopted this tradition from some dear friends of ours, and it’s been a hit for the last two years. We plan to keep doing this until she’s too old to care—which, hopefully, is never. 🙂