Christmas has always been a big deal in my family. One of the things I am really excited about now that I have started my own little family is creating special holiday traditions. Growing up there were a lot of things we did for Christmas, and I am looking forward to blending those with Kevin’s family traditions, and also adding in some new ideas of our own.
When I asked Kevin about his family traditions he couldn’t remember too many from his young childhood. Most of them have come about more recently. He has a much bigger family than I do, and so to cut down on costs the adults usually do Secret Santa with each other. We always buy for all the children in addition to that. It is a lot of fun! Another recent fun tradition is to have a family “war” with nerf guns. Over the years they have accumulated quite the collection of nerf toys and accessories and everyone gets really into it, hiding around the house and making alliances. Some other traditions that they have done for a long time include opening a gift on Christmas Eve and a huge Christmas dinner.
Christmas was a big production growing up in my family. We always started by going as a family to pick out our tree, then spent the evening decorating it and the rest of the house together. On Christmas Eve my mom’s side of the family would come over to exchange gifts and have dinner. My parents were great at building anticipation for the big day, and would keep us barricaded in our room until we were allowed out on Christmas morning. He would stall for what seemed like hours, telling us he had to make sure everything was perfect and that the video camera wasn’t ready. Finally he would call for us and we’d come running (and jumping over the couch) to see full stockings, piles of gifts, and my grandparents who had been there since 5 a.m. most likely.
We would all take turns opening our gifts while listening to Christmas music. Then we would have breakfast- cinnamon buns, egg sandwiches, and once I was old enough- mimosas! My dad’s side of the family would come over later that morning to join us and continue the celebration. These traditions are what made Christmas my favorite holiday growing up!
Here are some of the traditions we are continuing within our own little family, and some new ones that we are starting.
Christmas Tree. This is our 4th Christmas together. Every year we have gone to pick out out Christmas tree and then decorated it together. This is always the first thing we do to kick off the holidays, usually right after Thanksgiving. We have also taken a picture with it each year. I’m excited to keep taking these photos as we get older and our family grows!
Our family Christmas tree photos- 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Bull Run Festival of Lights. The first Christmas that we were together, Kevin surprised me by taking me to the Bull Run Festival of Lights. It is an amazing 2 mile long holiday light show that you can drive through. We have gone every year since and this year we were able to bring baby Kevin with us. I can’t wait until he actually knows what is going on and can enjoy the lights with us!
Tree Planting. Kevin had this idea and I LOVE it. We decided that every time we have a child we will plant a baby Christmas tree for them during the holidays. Our hope is that once it grows big enough we can use it for Christmas one year.
Visiting Santa. This is an obvious choice! Every kid needs to visit Santa each year. This year we were happy to see that Baby Kevin didn’t mind Santa. We’ll see how he feels about him next year!
Yearly Ornaments. This is a tradition we started last year after we got married in November. Each year we will buy each other a special ornament. I love this idea because we will end up having a great collection of ornaments that spans across every year of our marriage.
The Night Before Christmas. This was something Kevin wanted to start this year. We received The Night Before Christmas book from my best friend’s mom, and Kevin wants to read it to our kids every Christmas Eve. It was really sweet listening to him read it to Baby K
Gifts. Obviously gifts are a big part of Christmas, but not the most important part in our eyes. One of my favorite things is giving to others during the holidays, and picking out special gifts that I think they will like. It’s easy to get caught up in the QUANTITY of gifts though (which leads to lots of $$$), when really it should be more about quality and thoughtfulness. We really want to teach our kids to appreciate what they receive and not accumulate too much clutter either. That’s why we plan to follow the want, need, wear, read gift philosophy with our children. We will give each of our children 4 special gifts each year plus a stocking filled with fun, random stuff. They will get something big that they want, something that they need, something to wear, and something to read. We didn’t really do it this year, but plan to implement this fully starting next Christmas. I love this idea!!!
What are your holiday traditions? Do you do any of these, or do you have any others to share that we could adopt?