It is December and here I am thinking about Holiday Traditions, the Traditions I had as a kid in this same warm home I am now temporarily living in again. The Traditions Our young Family has set in the Home that we are missing and anxiously rebuilding. There was a short time after the House Fire that we thought we could have the house rebuilt in time for Christmas. Wouldn’t that have been magical? There is something about having your own walls to decorate and your own floors to mess up with flour and dropped cookie dough as you create memories with your little kiddos. I am sure we can do those same things here to my parent’s walls and floors, (temporarily live here as we rebuild our home after the fire) and we probably will. But today, I am feeling how important and cherished Traditions are.
When I say Traditions, I mean something different from the normal day to day that we do every Holiday Season.
Some of my favorites when I was a kid were getting Christmas Pajamas and homemade Honey Candy from my Grandma on Christmas Eve. My mom always had Christmas treats and snacks out throughout the season. Red or Green Candy Popcorn, Chex mix, Fairy cookies, and Cheese ball with crackers. Click on the names of the snacks for the actual recipes. I want you to try some of my childhood favorites too.
Us kids would sleep together in one room on Christmas Eve anticipating Santas arrival. Listening closely for any noises that would let us know Santa was there. We would lay out blankets and pillows on the floor of my oldest sisters floor. Trying to stay awake. My parents would close our door and I remember hearing them moving through the house “cleaning up” and busily doing whatever parents do when the kids go to bed. I remember hearing doors opening and closing, and feet walking around and I was worried that if they didn’t go to bed soon, Santa would skip our house. I don’t think I ever came out of the room to see what they were up to. I would quickly drift off to sleep even though I tried my best not to.
Every year, we each got a new ornament to put on the Family Christmas Tree. The ornaments varied in color, design, and theme every time. Sometimes they’d have the year on them, sometimes they didn’t. We would decorate the tree with my mom each year. The shoe box size tote with my name on it would be pulled out of storage along with one for each of my family members. We would hang up our own ornaments after my dad wrapped the tree in lights. The tree was always so fun to look at with all the variation and color. You could pay “I spy” on the Christmas tree for hours.
I loved watching the Christmas Cartoons. DO you remember seeing these on TV every year? They stopped playing them and I really missed them. You can find their sequels on Netflix and TBS but it is super hard to find these originals on TV now. But I did find this collection on Amazon.
We also would watch The Christmas story together as a family. You can find it every Christmas Day as a marathon on TBS.
I loved the parties with my cousins and Aunts and uncles where after a delicious meal, the grandkids would perform some sort of talent and Santa would drop off a large back with a small present for each kid. These parties used to be in my grandmas cozy home. One year me and my two sisters, wearing matching oversized sweaters with a rope tied around our waists as a stylish dress and sang “Aint Nothin but a Hound Dog” on my grandmas orange brick fireplace hearth. We had my large “Wrinkles” stuffed animal puppet, that was as tall as me, in the middle like it was singing with us. My oldest sister was had her hand inside his head, in charge of making his mouth move. We are not a musical family. Our number was thrown together at the last minute and practiced a few times in hopes of being able to keep up with our second cousins who were older than us and played musical instruments and were in all types of choirs and singing lessons. They were good. My young eyes were always impressed by their showmanship, too. As the families grew the parties got moved to a church, where we could perform on a real stage. I think one year I sang jingle bells and forgot the words. And as I got older, moved onto rollerblading circles around the stage with a twirl and a jump to wow the crowd. You get the idea, silly but honest effort put into these parties. They were the best.
Then there was the other side of the family where after dinner we played the Christmas Present exchange game. White Elephant if you will. We didn’t bring silly presents though. We brought food presents. You could walk away with a whole box of candy bars or 2 liters of soda and a box of popcorn. It was always treats and things every person ranging from kid to grandma would love. We would each draw a number out of the hat and then in numerical order, each person could pick a present and unwrap it. The next person could either take a present from the middle or steal someone else’s. Our family would try to work together to get the best snack haul. I looked forward to these parties and spending time with cousins I didn’t get to see often enough.
Christmas mornings, we would beg my parents to wake up. And they would send us to wake up our Big brother who always slept in. Once he was up, my Dad would follow us with the video camera as we rushed in to see the glowing Christmas tree surrounded by mounds of presents and the couch covered in unwrapped gifts. A stocking with a child’s name placed on top of the pile of that child’s unwrapped gifts clearly separated by the line that separates each couch cushion. Santa was good to us. It was always magical. Soon the smell of hot cinnamon rolls would drift into the room and we would break from playing with our new toys, just long enough to fill our bellies with the sweet goodness.
Now that I have kids of my own. I like to carry on some of my same traditions. We have also started some of our own.
On Thanksgiving Grandma gives my kids their own ornament and some Christmas books. They love having their own ornaments to decorate the tree with and we play “I spy” randomly throughout the season.
Our collection of Christmas books is huge now. Every night we read at least one Christmas book to get in the Christmas Spirit. Some nights we read as many as 10 together. I love snuggling with my kiddos by the fire as they squish in to see the pictures. They learn valuable lessons and of love, charity, family, and of Christ. And they look forward to it. Our favorites are linked below.
I Believe in Santa Clause look like a boring book, but it isn’t. It is beautiful and talks about how Santa has the same qualities as Christ. I love this book and so do my kids.
My kids love the board books with music that plays when they open it. I love Silent Night, Holy Night because it is a book they want to open that talks about the real reason for Christmas.
We always go see the Christmas lights. I saved this Christmas lights Scavenger Hunt so I can print a few each season. We go for a drive to get Hot Cocoa and try to find the Christmas items on the list as we look at the lights. You can print your own here. The evolutionofmom.com is no longer online but you can find a copy on Pinterest here https://www.pinterest.com/pin/253468285255885639/ or you can google it and a whole bunch of others pop up with free printables.
As I was looking for the link to share with you guys, I found this Christmas Lights Bingo. I love this idea because the littles can play without any help reading. I also love how she puts it on a clipboard with a pen tied to it. This solves any potential problems. You can print your own at this link. https://www.icanteachmychild.com/printable-christmas-lights-bingo-game/
Me or my mom give the kids Christmas Jammies on Christmas Eve now. But I am contemplating letting them open them on Thanksgiving too, so they can be worn all Holiday season. What do you guys do?
On Christmas eve we set out cookies and hot cocoa for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
I also keep treats around the house, But we get so many from friends and neighbors that I don’t have to make very many. We at least make a batch of cookies together with the kids so they can decorate them and give to Santa. Grandma still sends us Honey Candy through spirit, but I can’t go a Christmas without them, so we make a couple batches to share with my siblings. I love that my kids like it as much as I did. My kids always get a box of their favorite sugar cereal from Santa. We don’t buy colorful sugar cereals normally, so it is a big deal to get their own box.
On Christmas Morning, We follow a similar pattern as when I was a kid. We try to sleep in as long as our kids will let us. And we go into the family room together as a family with a camera following the action. Santa wraps ALL our presents now and he makes sure to use a wrapping paper different from the gifts from family and friends. His paper usually has a picture of him. We take turns opening presents one at a time and watch each other open theirs. It is fun to see each person’s excitement as they open their gift and thank the giver. Plus it takes more time and fosters gratitude and abundance. We take a break as the cinnamon rolls finish baking, along with bacon. My mom makes these for us a day or so before Christmas and freezes them. Then on Christmas eve we just pull them out of the freezer to rise. In the morning we put them in the oven and walk away. A simple and delicious way to breakfast on Christmas morning. My kids don’t usually eat the cinnamon rolls immediately though. They would rather eat their sugar cereal and save the cinnamon rolls as a snack for later. Later in the day, when our kids are slowing down in their new toy play, we go visit their grandparents.
We also try to do a service with the kids every year. I remember the first year we dropped off money or Christmas gifts as a family to other families. We only had Kyler and Daxton but Kyler, being only 4, talked about it for weeks. He loved giving. THen another time, we took food to the Homeless in Salt Lake City. From the car, my kids passed out their favorite treats they picked out to give, along with some healthy necessities. My children recognized the gratitude in the eyes of those they handed it to. They asked if we could do it again the next day, but next time bring even more. I feel like this is one of the most important traditions to keep up. It takes the focus off material wants and to giving. I want my kids to love lifting others. I also want them to know that giving to others does not take away from their needs. God always provides for us. And often we get to be Gods hands in providing for others.
Our Traditions are simple and I am always looking to add more or improving ours. I try not to add anything I cannot keep up for years to come. The repetition is what will bring it back to the minds of my children when they are older and hopefully bring fond memories of love and connection. I would love to hear what you guys do. Christmas can be busy but I find that the time we spend at home by the tree, either playing games, reading, and just relaxing is when I feel the most Christmas Spirit with my kiddos. Comment below and let us know your favorite Traditions.