When I was a child, my family had quite a few Christmas traditions. When we lived in Maryland, there was a house we would drive by every year because the homeowners had a HUGE tree that they decorated.
After we moved to Tennessee, we started going to our church’s musical Christmas eve service, which is one of my favorites. We also had an Advent calendar, and my brothers and I would take turns hanging decorations on it every day leading up to Christmas.
We also have traditional meals that my parents still make. On Christmas eve, my parents make a huge pot of Chow Mein and a fruit salad and, after eating, we move into the living room where my late grandfather would read the Christmas story before we all opened presents (yes, we open our presents on Christmas eve). On Christmas day, we have the same meal we have for Thanksgiving – vegetarian turkey slices and stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli and corn casserole, etc – and I look forward to that meal all year!
Now that I have my own little family and that Lucy is old enough to really understand things like traditions, we’re starting to figure out what we want to do with her. I’m lucky enough that, even though Joe is Jewish, he is very hands-on and participates in all our Christmas activities with us. I hope he knows how much that means to me.
Here are some traditions that we do/are doing:
24 Nights of Christmas Books
I saw another blogger post about this and thought it was such a fun idea that I wanted to do it with Lucy. I bought 24 Christmas books, and every night she opens one. She LOVES it. She will ask numerous times a day if it’s time to open her book. It’s so much fun to see how excited she gets. I hope her love for reading deepens.
This is a tradition that Joe and I started our first year as a married couple. Every year, we get an ornament that symbolizes our family or something big that happened to us over the year. The first year, we got a frame ornament with the date and put our wedding picture in it. The next year, we got a house to symbolize buying our first house. In 2009, we purchased an ornament to represent Lucy, the newest addition to our family. It’s so much fun to do this every year and to explain the meaning behind each of the ornaments to Lucy as we decorate our tree.
Cutting Down a Christmas Tree
Last year, we cut down our own Christmas tree for the first time at a local tree farm. It was much easier than we expected, and the trees they grow are Leyland Cypress – trees that don’t shed. That along with the fun we had picking out a tree and having Joe cut it down sold us on the idea of doing this every year. It’s so much more fun than heading to Lowe’s or Home Depot to get a tree.
I love Advent calendars, and from the beginning, this was one thing I wanted to do every year. We have one that we hang on our wall to mark each night before Christmas, and last year I got Lucy one with which she would open a door every night and get a piece of chocolate. It’s such a fun way to count down to Christmas.
Giving Gifts to Children in Need/Adopting a Child
When I was in elementary school, my family would adopt a family every year and provide them with Christmas gifts. It’s one thing that has always stood out in my mind and something that I enjoyed even as a child. And, it’s something I want to do with Lucy to remind her that it’s better to give than to receive. We were initially going to buy a gift and donate it to the United Way but tonight at our Kiwanis Club Christmas Party, we saw a tree filled with angels representing children who need someone to adopt them for Christmas. So, we picked one for this year. I am SO excited to shop for him and to help make this a Merry Christmas for another child.
Visiting the Santa House
Did you know that Santa actually lives in Georgia?? Well, he does, and his house isn’t far from here, so we took Lucy last year. He and Mrs. Claus have put up thousands of lights on their property, and it’s fun to go see them all. While we’re there, we visit with Mrs. Claus and see Santa (three years into this parenting thing and my kid STILL doesn’t like Santa). The best thing is, it’s all free. It’s such a fun thing to do, and it’s something we look forward to doing every year.
Other things we have done or would like to do include driving around to look at Christmas lights, riding the Santa train in Blue Ridge and watching Christmas movies.
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?
I’m linking up with Growing up Geeky.