II mentioned earlier this week that we've already celebrated Christmas in our house. See the post all about it, HERE. Although we are cutting out some of our favorite traditions, due to lack of time, I thought I'd share them here.
1) Decorating for Christmas. This is one of my very favorite times of the year. We typically do this the day after Thanksgiving and involve the kids. Again, this year looked a little different than normal, but it's one of my favorite traditions.
2) Cookie baking! I love to bake and decorate Christmas cookies. It's even more fun to have friends and family there to celebrate this tradition together. Because we did this for Molly's birthday party, I didn't host a cookie decorating party, as I have in the past. But, it's fun no matter how you choose to do it! Beware...it gets messy!!
3) The Elf. Yep. We have an elf. His name is JoJo and he actually has not made an appearance in our house yet, this year. We decided that the first two weeks of December were really crazy here and I wanted to do a good job with JoJo, so we are taking him with us on our trip and he'll be waiting in the kids' room when we arrive! I can't wait to see their reaction! Normally, I start this tradition on the 1st of December with a fun little gift for the kids to open. Last year, JoJo brought them a Christmas movie, and in the past, he's done hot cocoa and a game. I know some people find the elf creepy, but I don't at all. He's magical and fun! He's not naughty for us, just silly, and something that brings a smile and a sense of excitement to my kids' faces every morning! We definitely emphasize the reason for the season and my kids know all about the story of Jesus, but Santa and the elf help to bring that joy and excitement for the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christ's birth.
4) Gingerbread houses. Another tradition that we normally do, but got left off the list this year, due to time constraints. Still trying to decide if we'll do this on our trip, or not. I typically buy the Costco kit because it's cheap, easy and fun! We do this on a weekday evening, after dinner, and blast Christmas music throughout the house. I love how much fun the kids have and it's neat to look back at pictures from the past, reminiscing about how much our kids have grown and changed over the years.
5) Fantasy Lights. We have this fun tradition of filling the car with blankets, stopping at Starbucks for hot cocoa and then driving through a massive light display. Kids are allowed to be out of their car seats (this is their favorite part) because you basically inch along. It takes almost 30 minutes to drive through a fairly small loop of lights. It's all set to music, so you tune your radio to their station and enjoy. Another awesome tradition! We actually did this tonight and our kids loved it! Instead of Starbucks, we may or may not have gone through the McDonald's drive thru. Whoops. Really, my excuse is that we have no food left in our house and I won't buy anything to last just a couple days. So there. ;-)
For the record, for you car seat people, Brylie got to turn her seat around, just for this event. When she's rear facing, she can't see out her window, at all, because of the recline of the seat. We actually <gasp> took her out of the seat for half of the ride, and she reallllllly loved that. She was waving, clapping and pointing to all of the lights. "SANTA!!!" over and over!
I think she loved riding on daddy's lap, the very most.
6) Meeting Santa. Remember my post from last weekend? Our kids really enjoy this tradition and even our nine year old still believes. I'm guessing this will be his last year, so I'm treasuring the fun and magic of the season. The other day he says, "mom, can you believe it? There are FIVE kids in my class who don't believe in Santa. Isn't that weird?" Ummm..ha! Guess I better cherish his innocence, for now!
7) Writing Christmas wish-lists. I love reading my kids lists. Typically, they do these at school and then I have them do other ones at home. I remember some of the funny things they've wished for over the years and the continue to make me smile. Molly wants a "tiny kitty" this year. Um, no.
8) Reading Christmas stories. One of my favorite traditions is reading Christmas stories to my kids at night. Not only are they a fun change from 3478924 princess stories we read, but they help to simplify the story of Jesus' birth. Especially for the little ones. Our kids also attend Awana and Sunday school where they spend more time learning verses and the stories from the Bible. I love that they come home and we can have meaningful conversation.
9) Lefse' making. We are a Norweigan family and as far back as I can remember, we used to make lefse' with my great-grandma and my grandma. In the last couple years, it's been with just my sister and my mom. Again, we didn't do it this year, due to our trip, but I hope to continue this tradition with my own girls, for many many years. I love eating lefse', making a huge flour-y mess and all of the conversation and laughter that goes with it!
10) Christmas Eve dinner and church. Christmas Eve is the more traditional day for our family. We gather for a large meal, usually serving roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (with marshmellows), rolls, steamed veggies (usually asparagus), lefse', green bean casserole and several pies. I'm getting full just thinking about it! And after dinner, we attend our church's candle-light service. I love singing carols and gathering together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
11) Christmas morning. We open gifts--always going one by one (youngest to oldest. always.) Christmas brunch with close family and friends and then a day in our jammies, eating leftovers, playing games, watching movies and just being lazy. It's the best.
What Christmas traditions do you have? I'm always looking to add something new to the mix. It's never too late to start a tradition with your family!!
8 more days, friends! 8 MORE DAYS!!!!!!