As in most homes, Christmas is a big deal in mine. The excitement runs high as the days pass and the 25th looms closer and closer. Here are a few traditions that we try to keep each year.
1. The tree is up by Thanksgiving. Putting the tree up a day or two before the turkey day is a huge thing checked off my list. In my mind, there is something about seeing the tree up, lit and ready to go that takes all sorts of stress away.
2. When my sons were little, I didn’t put any presents out until they were in be on Christmas Eve. It was so much fun to see how big their eyes got on Christmas morning. All the presents from grandparents and us as well as Santa’s gifts usually made a pretty big pile. Now, my little girl helps me put all of the presents under the tree. I still have to “slap a few hands” when the boys try to shake their presents to determine the contents. I have gotten smarter, though, and I pack things in odd shaped boxes with lots of packing peanuts so shaking is unproductive.
3. About 10 days before Christmas (earlier if I am lucky), I bake gingerbread men and hang them from the dining room light fixture. The cookies fall periodically and it’s a mad scramble to see who gets a piece to eat.
4. On normal years (this one isn’t normal), I make up many, many goodie plates the first week of December and we deliver them as a family on the first Monday of the month. The kids fight over who gets to go to the doors to hand out the plates, so I usually have to make a detailed route map and assign kids to houses before we even step one foot out the door. This year, I am late and the plates are still a work in progress.
5. These are out of order, I am writing these as I think of them. On Christmas morning, the stockings that were set out in the living room “mysteriously” end up on the foot of all of the kids beds. When they get up, excited and anxious to open presents, but usually too early for the grownups, they can sit on their beds and look in their stockings. This is usually good for 20 more minutes of sleep for us.
6. Christmas Eve is the big dinner day. On Christmas morning, we eat cinnamon rolls that have been made to the point of the last rise the night before and then brought out and baked that morning. The rest of the day is leftovers. It’s a day off for the cook.
7. All CDs in my car are changed out for Christmas varieties at the beginning of December. I have a big variety of music from the Nutcracker to saxophone, from Bing Crosby to Charlotte Church. It’s the only time of the year that there are no complaints about not getting to listen to “cool” music.
8. My Christmas tree is decorated almost entirely with homemade ornaments. As I get them out each year to decorate, I am transported back either to when I made it or to who gave it to me. Each one has a special meaning to our family. I give my daughter a new ornament each year. None of them are homemade, but they signify something in her life, like a move to AZ or an obsession with Tinker Bell.
9. I make more treats in December, if that’s possible. The month isn’t complete if I don’t make cutout cookies. Everyday for the last week, my oldest has asked when I am going to make them. On top of the plates of treats that come in, I try to keep a good supply of my own on the counters.
There are probably a few traditions that I am not remembering; things that I just do without realizing it’s tradition. These recurring events that happen every year help to make it a memorable day. I keep trying to get my kids to understand that Christmas is something to look forward to not because of presents, but because of family, traditions and of course, the REAL reason we celebrate, the birth of the Savior. It’s a work in progress.