Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our holiday traditions

I just got my Christmas cards that were designed by Jamie back from Walgreens, and they look great! Thanks again, Jamie...

I am really cruising on Christmas presents this year which rocks! When the stressful stuff is done early, the season can be relaxing and more fun. I'm really looking forward to our yearly traditions.
Each year, I bake dozens and dozens of cookies with my mom and sisters on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It's a lot of fun, with just US and no kids. Makes for some really good laughs and lots of silliness. The cookies aren't half bad, either. We usually save the sugar cookies to decorate either at home with our children or invite the dads and kids to join us later on and decorate them together. The kids go crazy with the sprinkles!
I also decorate the house for the season on that weekend, except for the tree. The tree is a whole nother experience. We usually go the next week to a somewhat local tree farm. Definitely worth the drive. We've tried other tree farms in the past, but this one is perfect: tractor rides out to the different locations, beautiful, PERFECT trees everywhere you look and all for the same prices - which are waaay more reasonable than anywhere I've ever gone - regardless of their size. The people are super friendly and everything is included. Cookies and hot chocolate are donations only, so that you don't feel obligated to spend an arm or a leg, just what you feel they're worth. The kids get to help cut it down, and then we haul it home to set up.

Ahhhh!! The smell!! Lovely... I am usually the one who lights the tree, as I'm a bit particular, but not anal. After I've been scratched up and am thoroughly broken out from all of the sap and scratches, we decorate while the music is playing, the hot chocolate is drunk, and much giddiness ensues. Of course, I won't forget that this also tends to be the most stressful thing ever, as the kids really bug me with their flea-like jumping and pestering questions, "when are the lights done? Can we decorate yet? He pushed me! Wah , wah, wah..." and then there's the strings of lights that magically twist themselves into knots and burn out while carefully wrapped and stored for the year, but I know that it's worth it.

We already have the Lite FM station on which is playing all Christmas, all the time. I personally wanted to wait till after Thanksgiving, but the kids heard Alvin and the Chipmunks as I was flipping the channels, and we were hooked! This station will play on our radio until Christmas day. I LOVE the variety of Christmas songs, and that they'll play any request you can think of. Some really obscure holiday songs, too!
We've also already started the seasonal movies, with Polar Express a few nights ago. Corinne hadn't really seen it before and loved the music and train. It's very exciting to think of her reactions this year. She's such an outgoing child, that I can't imagine anything scaring or upsetting her, so I'm looking forward to many squeals of delight...

Of course, we do the Christmas cookies and notes to Santa every Christmas Eve. Justin has been writing his own notes since he was 4, and I have saved them all. They are ADORABLE. I may have to scan them so that you can see how sweet they are. Evan gets to help write it this year! How exciting for him!
Christmas 2003
Reads: I want Lady, Santa. Justin
(He loved Thomas the Tank Engine and wanted a Lady Train)

Another tradition is that on Christmas morning, the kids are allowed to tear into their stockings before breakfast, and don't have to wait turns. Just rip into it! Patrick and I will be getting some food set out (usually pancakes, or other finger foods that reheat well) for the kids while we enjoy an egg and ham casserole (GOOOOOOD) that I only make once a year, for some reason...


When opening the presents we all take turns and watch each other. I never knew that there was any other way, until I grew up and saw families that just tear into all of their presents, without relishing each and every present. I really enjoy the slow, polite Christmas morning. We get to watch everyone's faces, and if someone really wants to play with a new toy for a bit, we can take a break and try them out before continuing. Much more relaxed.


doesn't that cookie look, um, yummy?

Every Christmas Eve is with Patrick's Mom and family and every Christmas Day (afternoon) is spent with my family. It works out so well this way. No leaving in the middle of a party, no organizing and worrying over hurt feelings.

So. I know our traditions aren't totally unusual or wild, but they're OURS and we love them. What are your holiday traditions? Anything fun that I can incorporate in my own family?

(also, what is UP with Blogger and the spacing? I can't get the paragraphs or spacing correct...)


Type (little) a aka Michele said...

Growing up we all took turns too. Someone played Santa, and we all watched while someone opened their presents.

My husband's family piles all your presents at your feet all at once, and then you just open them.

Kamis Khlopchyk said...

I have been having the same problem with Blogger Tracey, the only solution I have found is to go into edit html and then delete all the dividers and put in my own spaces....

We have similiar traditions, we decorate the tree after I put on the lights and we split time between families on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

I am starting slowly to get into the mood but it's still early ;-)

Kailani said...

We have many holiday traditions starting with putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. Can't wait!

An Island Life

R Royal Family said...

Those sound like wonderful Christmas traditions.

I am very much looking forward to decorating, baking and listening to Christmas music.

A tradition we do every year is we usually leave one article of santas clothing behind so Christmas morning there is a little surprise. we bought a cheap santa costume and use pieces from that. One year we took his boot and covered it with soot and made boot prints across our hardwood, our daughter was amazed and so super excited. The next year in her letter to Santa(by the way I save all of them too) she mentioned that she had his boot and he actually wrote back (thank god for Canada post) that he am,d Mrs Clause were looking all over for that boot so she left it beside the milk and cookies and he took it with him that night.

There is nothing better than the magic of Christmas through a childs eyes said...

The boot thing is SO cute! Sweet idea.

Elle*Bee said...

We have a radio station here that's been playing Christmas music for the past two weeks. Like you, I preferred to give Thanksgiving it proper attention before focusing on Christmas, but Son #3 heard "Jingle Bell Rock" and that settled it.

My Thanksgiving traditions including my eating almost an entire can of pitted black olives before lunch time rolls around. (My mom used to put out a tray of olives and radishes as she was cooking. Don't know why....)

We bring a side dish to Dear Hubby's dad's house. Dad-in-law cooks turkey & ham and the siblings bring sides or desserts. My dishes are string bean casserole (just b/c it's easy and no one else makes it) and Stovetop Savory Herb stuffing (I embellish it a bit). Dear Hubby's family never had Stovetop before I came along. I've had a hard time adapting to the beef dressing served with turkey (beef???). My latest tradition is to buy a small turkey breast and roast it the day after Thanksgiving b/c there is never any white meat left over!

Only after Thanksgiving dinner, when the guys are watching football, do I turn my attention to Christmas. I'll write all my Christmas cards that day, but I don't mail them until Dec. 10th or so. We usually decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving.

It was fun reading about your traditions.

Melissa said...

We took turns too as kids. And now I make my kids do the same thing. Hubbys family all rips into their stuff at the same time. Christmas for them is over in about 5 minutes. I hate it!! You don't get to see the look of joy on their faces as they open that "special" gift and they don't get to enjoy everyone oooh-ing and aaaah-ing over their fun stuff!! I have a real attitude about that...
One thing that we do is open one gift on Christmas Eve and it's ALWAYS pajamas! The kids love having a new pair to snuggle up in while they try to drift off to sleep :)

Lizzy in the Burbs said...


I've been sitting here for the last twenty minutes or so reading your blogs and enjoying them! Your holiday traditions sound very nice, loved the little notes to Santa (especially the mispellings, too cute!). We used to set out cookies for Santa, too, but my boys are 16 and 12 now, so sadly it's no longer necessary! My kids used to peel a carrot or two for the reindeer, and we used to make reindeer "chow", basically granola cereal. Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I feel like a little kid that's excited about getting a card in the mail, "Yay! A comment! Someone read my blog, whoo-whoo!" In answer to your question about my icky pictures, yes, indeed, they are real. As far as whether or not the jail was real or not, I have no idea. To be honest, we didn't stick around there long enough to find out! It was the creepiest place, like something out of the twilight zone! :)

familymclean said...

Wow, Christmas. We are just starting to think about it here too. I love it though! We have a decorate the tree day...Dec 1 and then on Christmas morning take turns as well. I love this time of year!

Beck said...

Oh, that sounds like so much fun....

Kellan said...

I loved hearing about your holiday traditions and I especially loved the letters! We do one thing every year, kind a cool. I bought, over the years 25 different Christmas books (all kinds - easier to find than you'd think - like at $ General and Big Lots, etc...) and anyways, we read one a night, starting the 1st of Dec. to count down to Christmas day. The kids love it. See ya. said...

Ok, Kellan, I realllllly like the book idea. That's something my kids could get into! I may have to scrounge through our library at home and see how many we have!

Kristi said...

I loved reading this post. I have grown to dred Christmas because of the sheer volume of people (almost 20) I need to buy for on a very limited budget (even more limited this year, with me leaving my FT job for freelancing). It's stressful and commercial (the exact opposite of what Christmas should be about). But reading about your traditions has made me excited about Christmas for the first time in a long time, and about creating special traditions with my daughter and husband.

Here's one of the traditions from my childhood that my mom still practices today: every year since we were born, she's bought my sister and I a special ornament that captures and event or circumstance in our life over that past year. It was great because when I moved out on my own, I took with me a huge box of ornaments for my first Christmas tree, where otherwise I wouldn't have had any.

Jamie said...

I left a comment here yesterday and it is gone!
Anyway, wanted to tell you how much I loved Justin's note to Santa telling him that if wants a cookie off the tray, then go ahead.
That's priceless. :)
Can't wait for Christmas this year, it's like I'm a kid again! Avery yells out for Christmas trees and Santa everytime we see one, so we should be in for a good time.

the dragonfly said...

A tradition we're going to have when the Little Mister is old enough is rolling dice to see if you can open a present (you open if you get a six, and can roll again if you have doubles). We did that at home and it's lots of fun.

This year we're going to celebrate Santa Claus Day (December 6) with the neighbors and their toddler girl. I know the tradition is Swiss, but it might be German too...anyway, Santa comes on December 6; you put your shoes outside the door and he puts candy, fruit, and nuts in them. Also there is bread and hot chocolate in the evening. This one I learned from an exchange student (from Switzerland) who lived with us for a year when I was in high school.

Debbie said...

We also tuck into our stockings before breakfast, and no getting dressed beforehand, pj's are required. Some other traditions we have...

-all stockings must have an orange in the toe and some locally made Belgian chocolate.
-the boys get new pj's every Christmas Eve.
-Christmas Eve is with the inlaws for a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner before church.
-Christmas Day is at my parents house.
This was fun! I never think of these traditions, they just seem to happen!


Michelle said...

what wonderful traditions! Sounds like a great tree farm place you go to get your tree from too!

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