“At the heart of every family tradition is a meaningful experience.” -Author Unknown
Christmas is such a special time of year – it’s the season of traditions. As an adult, you really treasure the traditions that were passed down the long line of your family tree. Maybe your family has created new traditions that are just as meaningful. Traditions are a beautiful way to bring the family together and to share your childhood memories with the future generations.
In light of all the Elf on the Shelf “tradition”, I want to assure you – your kids won’t remember (or certainly care) how extravagant you make this. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Elf on the Shelf but the amount of comments I hear from parents complaining, makes it seem not worth it. Traditions should be meaningful and exciting for everyone in your family. If it’s causing too much hassle or time, maybe you should focus on the other special family traditions.
Here are some of my favorite family traditions and I couldn’t forget the throwback Christmas photos.
The Night Before Christmas
All of my cousins are too old now, but each Christmas Eve my Bumpa (grandfather) would read the Night Before Christmas to all of the grandchildren. We would literally pile up together on the couch as he read the well-known story to us. It’s a tradition I hope to carry on to my future family and one that you should start with yours. Once he finished reading the story, we knew that we would be heading to bed shortly in hopes that Santa would be making his stop once we were asleep.
Each Christmas Eve my mom lets us open one gift, a brand new pair of Christmas pajamas. This is still a tradition that we do every year. Actually, one year my mom thought we were “too old” for this tradition and my brother and I were devastated. As kids, it was a perfect way to distract us from the suspense and excitement of Christmas morning. Waking up in our Christmas pajamas always makes the morning extra special.
Santa on the Firetruck
This has to be one of my favorite parts of living in my small town. Besides the pots and pans parade, of course. (Google it!) Every year a couple weeks before Christmas, Santa gets on the top of a firetruck and rides through the entire town. I remember waiting at the end of my drive way as soon as we heard the sirens for a glimpse of Santa. He would toss candy canes as he yelled, “Merry Christmas!!”. Even as an adult, it is just as exciting and magical to see Santa drive by. There’s no way that you can’t go out to see him.
Orange in Our Stocking
I’m sure this tradition started with my parents as kids and was passed down to us. An orange is always in the toe of our stockings. First off, this is genius – it’s the perfect size and shape. Second, I always eat the orange right away. Usually this was because we were only allowed to open our stockings before our parents woke up. Oh, did I mention my normal time to wake up on Christmas morning was around 3-4 AM, maybe even earlier. It was our only option for food at that hour. My poor parents!
Opening Presents Together
As I mentioned, if we woke up before our parents (which I always did) we were only allowed to open our stockings. This has changed as adults because usually we have to wake up my brother and want to have coffee before starting. Speaking of coffee, once my parents did wake up we had to wait until they brewed a pot of coffee (seemed like the never ending pot) and were working on their fist cup before we could start opening presents. Each person would take a turn, picking each person a present to open that “round”. Then one by one, we would open our gift and show everyone what we got. All of that hard work shouldn’t be done in 20 minutes.
Looking at Christmas Lights
Each year my Nana and Bumpa would pack up me and my cousins to go look at Christmas lights. I remember driving through neighborhoods comparing the decorations on each house and trying to decide which was the “best” one. My Bumpa would act like a tour guide, “And on the right we have..” and “Ooooh, if you look on your left…”. The night would end at Friendly’s for some hot chocolate. These are the type of traditions and memories I hope to never forget. I probably wouldn’t get in the car with either my Nana or Bumpa at night now (love you guys) but I can’t wait to carry this tradition on one day.
You guys, reindeer food can’t be bought in any store. A mix of glitter (to sparkle so Santa could find our house) and oats (for the reindeer). My brother and I would run around the yard sprinkling reindeer food to make sure that Santa didn’t fly right by. I’m sure Rudolph loved the glitter mixed oats as a pick me up. Of course, we no longer do this tradition but the videos we have of my brother sprinkling it around the yard are so special.
Breakfast at Auntie Joye’s
This is a tradition I miss and wish I could have enjoyed as an adult. (Hello, mimosas!) After opening presents, we would head over to my Auntie Joye’s for Christmas morning breakfast. The house would be filled with family and friends. I mean, filled! Uncle Norbert would be cooking food for anyone and everyone that walked through the door. It was chaos and hectic but it was perfect. All the kids would be excited to share about the presents Santa left the night before.
Continue old traditions and start new ones.
Be present with your family.
Enjoy the little things.
Stop stressing about that damn elf!
Let your traditions be full of meaningful experiences.
What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?