As I was planning for this Christmas season I was contemplating
the many Christmas traditions I've experienced over the years.
There are some I had in my childhood, some I've carried over into
adulthood with my own family, some new traditions we've started and
some we've tried and for one reason or another, failed to continue.
I thought I'd share some of these traditions.
The Advent calendar - What an easy tradition to
have and what child doesn't love the surprise of finding or reading
what's inside that little door every day? As a child we always had
an advent calendar with a verse each day about Christmas. Now,
we've moved on to a verse with chocolate. We open the doors every
three days in our house, so each child can have one piece of candy
and there's no question about whose day it is to get the candy.
Reading a different Christmas book every night of
December - I've collected more than 30 books with a
Christmas theme, most of them purchased at Goodwill. Some stories
are simple board books while others are longer stories with
elaborate artwork. We've done this for the past five years…until
this year. We have them all sitting in front of our fireplace, but
for some reason haven't opened a single book yet.
Driving around town looking at lights and
decorations - We start this annual tradition with a stop
at Starbucks for peppermint hot chocolates. We sip as we drive
around hunting for a house that most resembles Clark Griswold's
Dining at the Walnut Room - This is a tradition
my husband grew up experiencing. I didn't grow up in Chicago, so I
wasn't familiar with the magnificence of eating around the giant
Christmas tree in the State Street Macy's Walnut Room. There's
always a two- to three-hour wait no matter what time we go, but we
spend our time looking at the toys, the animated windows and, of
course, drinking peppermint hot chocolates.
A new ornament every year - After we've put up
our tree, we take the kids to a store to let them each pick out one
ornament to put on the tree. They have everything from Barney and a
drum set to a GIANT bulb and a bicycle. We write their initials and
the year in an inconspicuous spot on each ornament. Someday when
they have their own families and tree, they can pull out the
ornaments they've collected over the years to hang. And I do
realize that by the time they're 18, we won't be able to see any
green on our tree.
Buying Christmas ornaments as souvenirs - We do
this throughout the year as we travel. We buy an ornament at our
destination as a souvenir and save it for Christmas time. It's
always fun to look at the ornaments and reflect on the memories of
all the places we've been together as a family. They include Elvis
(from Graceland), a dragon (from China), a hiker (from Acadia
National Park) and a White House (from Washington, D.C.).
Jesse Tree - The Jesse tree is typically a tree
or branch you use to place one ornament (often made of paper) on
each day of December that tells the story of the Bible leading up
to the birth of Christ. We haven't been able to do this every
night, but we do so as often as we can. Note: I just noticed that
in addition to the paper ornaments, our Jesse tree is currently
decorated with mini-Monster truck ornaments.
Building a Gingerbread house - This is one of
those traditions that has thankfully gone by the wayside in our
house. We typically bought a gingerbread house kit, made it and
then let it sit out for days as the children nibbled a little off
every night. It often got shoved around and crumbs were left all
over the floor and the kids ended each evening sprinting through
the kitchen and living room as they wore out their sugar highs.
Angel Tree gifts - The Christmas season gets so
busy with focusing on gift-buying, Christmas card sending, picture
taking, parties and every other thing, that I like to have at least
one thing our family does that isn't focused on ourselves.
Together, we buy gifts for one or two children through
Angel Tree. These are kids who have a parent in prison. We buy
the gift, wrap it, and then the gift is given to the child from
their parent who isn't able to buy them a gift. Our children really
enjoy picking out gifts for the kids.
Christmas around the world - The past six years
we've gotten together with my sister's family to do an "Around the
World" Christmas dinner. We basically cook entrees from different
countries and pig out. The first year we were really elaborate and
had 12 entrees and desserts and a world map on the wall with tags
indicating the country each entree was from - 12 entrees and
desserts for seven people…three of which were kids.
Since then we've toned it down by skipping the map and having
only five or six international entrees and desserts. This year,
we'll have a total of 11 family members and cover China, Mexico,
Greece, Australia, India and Sweden (Ikea Swedish meatballs).
What traditions do you enjoy with your family?
Kate Hall is a married homeschooling mom to her three kids, all of which were adopted from China, living in the lovely suburbs of Chicago.
See more of Kate's stories here.
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