Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Traditions

Isn't this hoar frost just gorgeous? This is what I woke up to this morning. Now this together with this and now this going on today in blogland, well I'm just ready for the Christmas season!

Christmas tradition is something that is really important to me. There is just something about families doing a few things each and every year that they look forward to that solidifies the thought of connectedness and "We are a family" in my heart and mind. I remember traditions from my own childhood and loved every one of them and now as the grownup with my own family we have made some new ones with our own children. And they look forward to them each and every year. Here's a few:

*We always put up the tree on the first weekend of December. That kicks off the holiday decorating in our home. The kids each have their own box of decorations they put on the tree themselves. It is their special decorations. They have recieved one each year in their stockings since the year they were born and they will take their own decorations with them when they fly out of the nest, so to speak. I always try to choose something that suits them or that I know they will like.

*Starting December 1st, we read from our Christmas story book each day. It's a huge board book that opens up into a bunch of tiny books each dated for one day from the 1 to the 25th. It tells every aspect of the Christmas story from Mary, to the shepards, to the wise men, culminating in the birth of Jesus, which is of course the 25th book and the biggest. We read for the corresponding day and then that book is hung on the tree from a gold thread like a decoration. Some years its on the big tree and sometimes we've had a 2 ft. tree just for this Christmas story. I wrote about this book here.

*On Christmas Eve, we always open our stockings after we've come home from whereever we've been visiting that night or after our company has gone home if we're hosting. This is where the special Christmas ornament is. We always start with one of the kids reading aloud the Christmas story.When the kids were little no Christmas presents came out for our personal family until late Christmas Eve, after the kids have gone to bed. There would be no presents under the tree and then they'd wake up Christmas morning with the presents there. Now that they are teens they just stay up to darn late and I don't feel like hauling presents up from hiding places at 1 and 2 in the morning. So now the presents come up Christmas Eve morning before they all wake up. Besides, now that they are older it's too fun to watch them trying to figure out whose is whose and drive each other crazy. That is explained in the next tradition.

*Each child's presents are wrapped in their own type of paper and none are labeled. (I totally change the kid's wrapping each year so they have no clue). For each child I have a chunk of their own wrapping paper that I've cut into a bazillion tiny pieces and put into an envelope with their name on it. Before I go to bed on Christmas Eve, I hide it somewhere in the living room, sometimes in the tree, sometimes on the fireplace or where ever else I think it will take them a few minutes to find. I try to pick different places each year! Come Christmas morning, while the coffee is perking and hot chocolate being made, they have to find their envelope and open it and figure out which wrapping paper belongs to them. Once they figure it out they can have at it. Dave and I just sit back and enjoy it, with the kids occasionally bringing us one of ours to open.

*Christmas morning is doubly hectic as it is also Tia's birthday! We've asked if she'd like the actual celebrating on another day that would totally be devoted to her, but she always refuses. She likes that she has the same day to celebrate as Jesus! We've also asked if the kids would rather open all the gifts on Christmas Eve but they want to stick with the tradition that was started before the youngest decided she was ready to make a showing on Christmas Day.
So once all the mayhem of the Christmas presents is over, it's time to celebrate the second birthday party of the day. Believe it or not, then we move to the kitchen where it is decorated with birthday balloons, tablecloth and birthday presents. Tia gets to do the birthday thing.

*When paper and bows are semi-cleaned up we usually enjoy some kind of breakfast like french toast or pancakes together. Then we usually gather and watch either "The Scrooge"(or it might be named "A Christmas Carol") with Patrick Stewart or "It's A Wonderful Life" with James Stewart, this one in black and white of course. (I just noticed my 2 favorite Christmas movies have actors with the same last name. Strange.) Although last year "Christmas with the Kranks's" also made it in there as did "Elf".Christmas afternoon we all gather wherever the dinner is held that year and enjoy the company of family over great food. We always have the turkey complete with stuffing and all the extras. We in Canada are ready for turkey by Christmas as our Thanksgiving is in October. And of course, it's tradition that I bring the birthday cake wherever we are going for the dinner!




So there you go. I love traditions. It makes looking forward to the holiday special. What do you do? Link up at My Quiet Corner so that we can read your lovely stories of a beautiful time of year!





16 comments:

Robin said...

Such beautiful traditions you have! I am impressed with how much thought and preparation you put into your traditions!
I like how you don't label the gifts and make a game out of it. My dad did that one year for us kids - we each had a mathamatical equation to solve to discover what our "number" was. Each package had a number instead of a name! Math was never my strong suit!

Much Ado said...

Susanne, I just loved reading this! Thanks for sharing your traditions, sounds like a wonderful balance of fun and reflection. LOVE the picture too!

GiBee said...

Oooooo ... I LOVE the tradition of putting the gifts under the tree on Christmas eve, but even more, I LOVE the idea of having to find their wrapping paper puzzle! Too bad I only have one child. I wonder how I can make that work?

ellen b said...

Those all sound wonderful Susanne. I do a similar thing with my kids presents. Some years it's individual wrapping paper other years I give each a made a name from a character in our favorite books. That's a fun way to celebrate your daughters birthday too! Our Katie's birthday is December 27th which makes things interesting...
Blessings on you and yours...

kel said...

I love the idea of the presents not being labeled. That's great! I'm going to do that when I have kids who are old enough.

Linda said...

Wow, those are beautiful traditions. We are nearly traditionless; isn't that sad? I don't know what happened along the way. If we do have any, they're the run of the mill kind. Thanks for the heads up on Amy Grant being on Oprah tomorrow!

momrn2 said...

It seems a number of families have the decoration for the child tradition!

I love your tradition of making a game out of their packages. My Brother in law put code names on them one year... but how much more fun to make them do a bit of a hunt to discover the code!

How extra special (and busy for you) that you celebrate 2 birthday's in one! I think that's pretty neat that your daughter wants to celebrate on Christmas rather than her "own" day.

What fantastic traditions! Thanks for participating and sharing these with us all!!!

Missy said...

What a lovely post! I love the wrapping paper thing-- I had never heard of cutting up snips of the paper and hiding them-- that is FUN. I can see with older kids how that might stretch out to enjoyment a bit more. Wonderful!

melissa said...

I love the idea of how you wrap the gifts for each kid in different types of paper then make a fun activity out of it on Christmas morning - sounds fun!

Beck said...

Your traditions are ENCHANTING!

{Karla} said...

these sounds so wonderful. I;m sure your children totally appreciate the traditions y'all have established in your home.

Blessings,
K

Lisa writes... said...

What a GORGEOUS pic! We have nothing like that here in the deep south!

Last year I wrapped all my kids' Christmas for the first time, and it was great fun. I love your idea of the different paper and unlabeled gifts!

Faith said...

I loved reading all of your traditions. I most especially like your tradition of the wrapping paper being different each year and hiding the clues! I have always put the gifts under the tree, with my husband's help, after the kids have gone to bed. Not sure how that will work this year as my 14 year old stays up later than we do when there is no school! I'll try to post some traditions soon....I've been kinda busy this week....

Lana G! said...

What great traditions! And that picture is gorgeous!

Lana G!
http://airmiles.wordpress.com/

dcrmom said...

I have a Christmas birthday to contend with too. I love your traditions. Fun post. And that picture. WOW. I'm jealous.

gail@more than a song said...

Great traditions Susanne! I'm so impressed with all of you that have a box of ornaments for each child, so sweet. We've done similar things with not labeling their gifts but coming up with something to make them figure out which are theirs, similar to the math thing Robin said!