The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. It is magical. I love the cold, the frost, the fireplaces, the layers of clothes, the sound of Christmas music, the family gatherings, the sinful food, the decorations, and the meaning behind it all. My family spent tons of time together growing up but there was something different about the time spent together at Christmas. There was just a bit more awareness of how lucky we all were to have each other, a bit more warmth exuding from loved ones to counteract the frigid temperatures. Last year was Eliza’s first experience with Christmas. At nine months old, there wasn’t much for her to understand, but for me, this time of year took on a whole new meaning. Being able to share our most beloved traditions with my own daughter was such a thrill and got me so excited for the years to come. Now, a year older, she still doesn’t quite grasp everything but she knows who Santa is and that she is going to ask for a kitchen for Christmas. We read the Christmas story constantly because it is one of her favorite books. She dances around to Christmas music daily and we have been watching “White Christmas” and “Miracle on 34th Street” on repeat since Halloween. Seeing the glimmer in her eyes as Christmas approaches has been one of the greatest joys I have experienced as a mom so far. Experiencing Eliza’s second winter had me thinking about which Christmas traditions I want to carry on with our family and maybe some new ones that we will embrace going forward. Some of these I know she won’t quite appreciate yet but I can still do them and act like they are for her benefit, right?
- Advent Calendar – Greg got me the most beautiful advent calendar from a Christmas Shop in Cannon Beach the first year we were married. We went to the beach for our honeymoon in June and I fell in love with the calendar. We didn’t purchase it then and somehow, he remembered the brand and ordered me one later that fall. I didn’t think he had it in him to be quite that sneaky but I will treasure it forever. I used to love reading the progression of the Christmas story each day and then getting a little treat to go along with it. We will definitely be continuing this tradition.
- New Christmas Book – Last year, we got Eliza a beautiful book of the Nutcracker. She was a little small to really appreciate it but it brought me back to the beautiful books that my grandma used to get me every Christmas. I also had a beautiful Nutcracker book as well as a Gift of the Magi book that was gorgeous. I hope to get Eliza a different Christmas themed book every year for us to enjoy together.
- Baking Sugar Cookies – The best traditions always involve something sweet to eat! My mom used to bake sugar cookies with us every year. We had a giant tub of cookie cutters in all sorts of Christmas shapes and then we would get to choose which ones to cut out and then how to decorate them. We would even get to eat the angels whose wings “accidentally” broke off. Not only is this so much fun but they are also great to have around for Christmas parties and quick gift baskets.
- Santa Letters – Every kid loves writing a letter addressed to the North Pole! This tradition always helped to bring the whole season to life. Plus kid handwriting is the cutest thing ever.
- The Nutcracker – I love The Nutcracker! My Grandma used to take me every year and it is one of my favorite Christmas activities. There is something about getting dressed to the nines and going to the most magical ballet that is unforgettable. When Greg and I went to New York at Christmas, I got us tickets to the NYC Ballet performance of The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. For this small-town girl that was the thrill of a lifetime and it is a thrill that I can’t wait to share with Eliza!
- Sleep Out Under the Tree – This is one that I had heard of but never did as a kid. My husband’s family decorates the tree together and listens to Johnny Mathis. It is one of the things that he really remembers and cherishes from their past Christmas’. I definitely want to continue that tradition and I thought that once our kid(s) are older, it would be so fun to get out the sleeping bags and sleep under our newly decorated tree. We will see if I can convince Greg to give up his nice warm bed for a night. J
- Drive Around and Look at Christmas Lights – Every town has that neighborhood or two that go all out on the Christmas lights and decorations. Our area is no different. When both Greg and I were kids, our families would designate one night where we would all get bundled up, climb in the car, crank the Christmas music and drive around aimlessly looking at the twinkling lights. A little hot chocolate was added as we got older. I love this tradition and can’t wait to continue it this year!
- Hot Chocolate on Christmas Eve – Christmas Eve was almost better than Christmas Day for me growing up. I loved getting dressed up in my fancy dress, heading out to church in the cold and dark, usually singing at church while my Grandma and Aunt played the organ and piano, getting to light and hold my own candle during Silent Night and then coming home full of anticipation. Last year, I added a little tradition of our own. Before we left for church, I put a fabulous hot chocolate recipe in the crock pot. When we got home, the whole house smelled like chocolate and cream. We then turned on a Christmas movie and shared hot chocolate with Eliza before putting her to bed. It was a perfect night cap.
- Milk and Cookies – This is a standard tradition that can’t be forgotten. Kind of like the letters to Santa, this makes the whole Christmas season come alive. And I get to eat cookies. It’s a win-win.
- Alone Time – Since last year was our first year really being the adults in the Christmas Eve scenario, Greg and I relished it. After we helped Santa out a bit, we stayed up together and watched “It’s A Wonderful Life”, finishing off the hot chocolate but this time with a little schnapps. It gave us some time to delight in all that we had accomplished and get some downtime before our busy Christmas Day schedule in the morning. As new parents this was such an amazing moment, to really understand how special Christmastime and family are.
So there you have it! Our 10 favorite Christmas traditions. I am so excited to get to start doing these this year and to watch our Eliza become as enamored with Christmas as I am! MEB