When I was a kid, my parents always had each of us bake something, and half went to our godparents and the other half went to whoever we wanted. Love that they encouraged this, to help us remember that the world does not revolve around us! I did this last year with DD1 (3 at the time) but the cookies we made didn't turn out very well, and we ended up just giving to godparents. I'd like to try again this year.
The last couple years DD1 and I have made a paper link chain that serves as both a decoration for the tree and a countdown to Christmas. She takes one link off each day.
Every year on Dec 16 (the EDD of my first loss) I hang a special ornament near the top of the tree, even though we usually have the rest of the tree decorated by then.
On Christmas Eve we open stockings, go to afternoon Mass, and then go to our friends' house for dinner/party.
September 2011 Space
I have a lot of favorites!
The advent calendar... I loved it as a kid, and I'm having fun doing it with DD this year.
All the baking... my mom always baked a lot at Christmas (to give as gifts) and we have a lot of old family recipes. I love to bake in general, but especially at Christmas.
I have always loved the Christmas Eve service at church... the one I grew up in as a kid, and the one we go to now. I love that you get out at midnight, and it's technically Christmas morning. That service always felt magical to me. Although this year I won't go since I don't want to take Ronan out that late. Maybe next year. My brother often babysits so that I can go.
We have an ornament that we hang on the tree at my parents' house as a sort of memorial to WWII. My grandfather found it in the wreckage of a bombed out house somewhere in Germany when he was fighting in the war.
We don't do this one any more, but up until I was about 21 years old, my brother and I had a tradition of building "forts" with our Christmas presents- there were very specific rules about building the forts that I won't go into. Then we would sleep in them that night. That lasted until my mother started putting the tree in a different room, so it didn't work anymore. My favorite was the time our cat tried to get into my brother's fort in the middle of the night, and the whole thing came crashing down on top of him. Good times!
we didn't have traditions growing up so when I had children I wanted to change that and start our own traditions.
We also do the advent calendar. DD1 was asking to open it a week before she could, it was hard holding her off. Christmas Eve, we bake cookies for Santa and write him a thank you letter. And ofcourse when the gifts are open, we have a HUGE breakfast and then start getting ready for Turkey dinner. I'm not close with my family so I won't really see any of them except my parents (who are going to be with us all day). But DHs whole family is close so dinner is usually very busy with lots of mouths to feed. I love it, the more the merrier. We love Christmas in our house.
We really didn't have any special traditions growing except breakfast Christmas morning at my Aunt's house... She cooked up all kinds of wonderful things like cinnamon twists and pigs in a blanket with sausage gravy and other yummy food. She still does it, but we don't live close enough to go.
We have tried to start a lot of traditions with our little ones to make the holiday season extra special.
We set up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Each year the kids get a new ornaments so by the time they are 18 they will have 18 or 19 of their own ornaments to take and start their own tree! We also do a new family ornament for me to keep each year. We buy Christmas pjs for the whole family and decorate the tree in our new pjs. Most years, we have tried to find matching family ones like the ones in my siggy pic.
We like to bake a whole ton of Christmas cookies the first or second weekend of Dec. as a family to give to friends/neighbors/take into work. That's what we did this weekend!
We have a Snowman advent calendar that MIL bought us when we were newly married. She filled it and mailed it to us. The kids LOVE opening.
On Christmas Eve, we bake a birthday cake for Jesus and have it for dessert on Christmas Day.
The first tradition we started with our own kids is to drive to Niagara Falls to see the Winter Festival of Lights. Its a light display that you drive through, and we go to this little Italian Pizzaria first for dinner. Its a little over an hour away, but its worth it and really fun. Hoping H will really enjoy it this year.
Growing up my brother and I were allowed to have our stockings as soon as we woke up, and would open them together on one of our beds. We weren't allowed to open the tree presents till after breakfast, and of course, being Christmas, we would have something big like pancakes or eggs and bacon, and the dishes had to be done! As a kid, the waiting was so hard! My mum would always ask the family a few days before christmas what we should have for breakfast, and the running joke was that I would always answer "dry toast and water" so that we could get to the presents faster!
Both of our christmas' so far with Hailey we have opened our stockings on mummy and daddy's bed...I really like that, and think we will continue. Other than that, our only tradition is the 4 presents for the kids...something to play with, something to wear, something to read and something to share. Then they get a "big" present from Santa that is not wrapped and waiting under the tree.
The women in my family get together at the beginning of December and make about 50 lbs. of tamales, enough to last the year. Now that I live on the other side of the state I don't always get to join in but when I do, it's such a special time. Last year my grandmother taught me how to make the chile which was awesome. I'm going to miss it this year but my mom will be bringing tamales for breakfast on Christmas morning.
I always watch the A Christmas Story marathon on Christmas eve and on Christmas Day we watch White Christmas.
Now that we're in our own house we're making new traditions. Every year of Brandon's life we've given him a special ornament so that when he becomes an adult he'll have enough for his own tree. We'll start CJ's collection this year too. Santa always brings an early gift on Christmas Eve for everyone...Christmas jammies.
Lenora & Chris 01.16.10
DS Brandon 05.13.07
DS CJ 10.06.11
*Co-moderator of January-June '07 and September '11*