Can you believe December is almost here? It might be the lack of lines during black friday shopping or the lack of snow in Michigan, but it just doesnt feel like its time to string the lights and hang the mistle toe.
That all changed this morning though when the kids and I started to haul the endless totes of decorations up from the basement. Once I put my favorite Christmas albumn on Christmas Number 1’s and watched the kids eyes dance with excitment as they carefully unwrapped the nativity sceen I felt the childlike wonder in my own heart as I took in the scene of my kids diving into our family traditions we love so much.
I believe it is so very important to be intentional with the limited time you have with your family and create lasting traditions.Traditions are a lot like heirlooms that are handed down and they strengthen our sense of belonging to a particular “clan” and become priceless when those who once were near have passed on.
Here are my families Top 10 Christmas traditions to help spread a little Christmas cheer!
1.) Elf on the Shelf. On the evening of Thanksgiving this little guy makes his grand appearance and the kids wake very early while I am preparing to go Black Friday shopping to see what mischeive he has created. Each night the elf appears in a different part of our house doing some crazy activity and each day my kids share with the elf secret ideas for gifts. The best part about the elf is that he watches over the house and the kids know he reports all of their behavior to Santa so they are on their best behavior for almost 25 days straight.
2.) Black Friday Shopping. I have arose as early as 3am and one year I never went to bed to take advantage of the door busters. It is always a good time with family and friends and we never take it too seriously or camp out with the crazies. Rather we just enjoy endless shopping at our own speed without kids. This opportunity is something that only happens once a year and I enjoy it.
3.) Nativity setup. My kids know that the very first thing that we put out before anything else gets hung or decorated is our very old and special Nativity. It is a good reminder for my family as to the meaning of Christmas and it has a prominent place in our home. Now that my kids are in their tween years they get to set it up on their own. I take a picture of them standing near it every year when they have it how they want it.
4.) A tree in each bedroom. I have bought the kids each a small pre-lit tree for their room that they get to decorate on their own. The ornaments are ones they have made or that we have bought and are mostly their favorite characters. I have one even in my room and it is typically ordaned with Starbucks cups or hallmark ornaments that I have collected.
5.) 1 Family Ornament must be obtained at our local Christmas store, Bronners. I drag my husband and kids every year to bronners for a singular objective…Find the perfect ornament we can put our name and date on for our tree. We have done this every year since we were married and I have told greg he will be pushing me down the huge store when I am 80 because I love it so much.
6.) Santa at Bronners. While we are at the worlds largest Christmas store we send the kids to see santa to share all their Christmas wishes and we get a picture of the moment. What is great about Bronners is that they allow you to take your own pictures and they do not charge you to see Santa and get the pic.
7.) Christmas Tree selection. Dragging home the christmas tree is always the Saturday night after Thanksgiving and the tree must be a “Real” tree. No fakes ever! We have gone to lots, home depot, and farms over the years and have enjoyed going different places to select our tree, but the tradition is that daddy is the one who has the last say and is the one who picks the spot. The kids always touch the branches and smell the trees to be sure that they approve. I look for the holes and sparce areas while Gregory is always concerned if the tree is too tall.
8.) Christmas cookie baking before tree decorating. A simple rule in our house is that cookies must abound before we take on the chore of adorning the tree. It is a lot of work and the kids love frosting the cookies and such while daddy is wrestling with the tree and stringing the lights. It gives the kids something to do while we are prepping the tree for all the millions of ornaments new and old.
9.) Placement of the Star. The tree decorating is the job of kids and well mostly mom. Once its perfect we put away all the boxes and call for dad. We watch as he carefully asends the ladder and puts the star in place. It is the final step in making our Christmas decorating complete.
10.) Christmas Eve PJS, cookies and a note for Santa, and feed the reindeer. Since the kids were born we dress them in holiday pjs, write a note to santa, leave a plate of cookies out for santa, and make reindeer food and sprinkle it out on our front lawn.
Reindeer Recipe we use:
In a small ziploc bag, mix:
- 1/4 cup oatmeal.
- 1/4 cup sugar.
- sprinkle of red or green sugar crystals (for cake decorating).
As the kids get older I wonder how soon this tradition will end, but this is one I am sure they will remember when they are grown and have little ones of their own.
This year I am adding a number 11 as I know our santa traditions and Elf on the shelf moments will be coming most likely to a close..maybe…its never too late to add new traditions to replace those that are no longer possible.
11.) Read the Christmas story before gifts. I have to admit this tradition has not always happened, but now that the kids are older they will read the story to us and no present will be opened until the story is done and we take the time to remember why Jesus was born.
What traditions do you hold dear and carry out each and every year?