This will be my second Christmas as a married woman and my first Christmas away from my immediate family. I’m excited to be with my husband’s family Christmas morning and learn all of their traditions, but it does make me sentimental.
When people ask what my family does for Christmas I usually just say, “oh, the same as everyone else.” But that’s not true, if you think about it, everyone has their own little ways of celebrating -and that is something worth sharing.
I’ve started incorporating some of my family traditions into my own home, somehow that makes it all the more homey and festive.
Here are ten things that my family does during the holidays…
1. Counting Christmas Lights: My family lives about 10 miles out of town at the end of a long country road. During the Holidays and on Christmas Eve driving home from Christmas Eve Service we all place “bets” (no prizes except bragging rights) as to how many houses will have lights on our way home. On good years we’ll count over a 100 houses! It was one of my favorite activities and memories.
2. Advent: My mom is the cutest thing ever. She gets so excited to work on advent for us every year. Every morning starting December 1st we’d wake up and run to the advent calendar (a cute house shape with lots of small doors). We’d open up the door marked with that day’s date and find candy or a note telling us to go look for a gift in our stocking or under the Christmas tree skirt. Some days it was a Hersey’s Kiss and a Bible verse, sometimes new lip gloss or make up, shampoo, little toys, it didn’t matter what it was- the gift was always thoughtful and fun to find.
3. Oranges and Cloves: This is a tradition that I’ve carried into my own home. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas with out these sitting on a shelf or in a bowl somewhere. And they make the house smell wonderful! Back home when we would build a fire in the wood stove, mom would put a few of these clove-stuck oranges in to a pot of water with some cranberries and let it simmer on the wood stove. it was so cozy!
4. Cinnamon Ornaments: My mom is very crafty and every Thanksgiving she prepares a craft for us to make while our bellies are digesting, usually it is some sort of Christmas ornament for the tree. One of my favorites that I made this year for my tree is Cinnamon ornaments, they smell fantastic and are really easy to make! I decided to make stars but my mom has gingerbread men. Click Here for a great tutorial.
5. Peppermint Bark: This is one of my dad’s favorite Christmas treats, well maybe his very favorite. Every year we make him some to take to his office to nibble on. Of course I’m pretty sure it’s gone in a matter of days if not hours, especially if he shares with us- it’s some awesome stuff and easy to make!
6. Early Morning Stockings: Just like any excited child on Christmas morning, my sister’s and I could never stay asleep and would be up and ready to open gifts at 3am. Of course that wasn’t going to fly with my sleepy parents, so we were allowed to sneak downstairs to get our stocking, open that and then we had to go back to bed. It worked pretty well too because we’d be distracted enough by our stocking gifts to stay in bed for a few more hours or until we fell back asleep. We always had to “reopen” our stocking in front of mom and dad too, so that they could “see what Santa brought us.”
7. Making Breakfast: This is a tradition my middle sister, Rachel, and I started once we were older. Since we slept in a little more now, and were nice enough to let Mom and Dad sleep until 7am (or maybe 8 if cooking took too long) we decided to make breakfast for the family. It changes year to year, pancakes or waffles, eggs and sausage, puffy pancakes, cinnamon rolls. It’s always fun spending that time making a secret breakfast like little Christmas elves.
8. Reading the Christmas Story: This tradition used to really bother my youngest sister, not because of the story, but because we had to wait until after breakfast and after the story to open presents. The suspense is deadly to a 9-11 year old! We usually take turning reading Luke 1:26-38, Luke 2:1-20, and Matthew 2:1-12.
9. Playing Santa: When we finally do get around to opening presents we pick one of us sisters to play Santa and hand out gifts. I love being Santa because I like picking the gifts I’m really excited about for my family first. “ooo, Rachel, this one looks strange, you should open this first. Mommy, you’re going to LOVE this!”
10. But we need a real tree! This is one of those traditions that is more of a joke. My mom loves to have her “pretty tree” in the family room- a fake tree with all her nice pretty white ornaments. But every year we children have to “fight” mom to get a real tree. The excuses are many, but we’ve learned to counter attack. “They are too expensive.” “We’ll go cut one down off the property!” “But it’ll look funny.” “We like Charlie Brown trees.” “I’ll have to vacuum up the needles.” “But they smell so nice.” Etc. Etc. We finally “win” and put up the tree, decorating it with candy canes, colored lights and all our handmade and family ornaments. I don’t think mom really minds that much- because it’s tradition and her babies love it.
10 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!!
See the rest of the 12 Days HERE!