Christmas 2012 is in the books. It’s over. It’s done.
We I learned a lot.
Back in November when PAIL had their monthly theme post on Traditions, I skipped it. I skipped it because I had no idea what I wanted our traditions to be. I knew what I didn’t want them to be for the holidays, but I had no idea what my plans were for the traditions we would establish for our family.
What I knew (and still know) we won’t do:
- Christmas morning will never be spent away from home unless we are traveling somewhere special (this does not include my or B’s parents’ homes – I mean real vacations)
- We are not religious and we will not pretend to be during the holidays, like many families do 😉
- We will not exclude Santa from our traditions, but will try to keep ourselves in control when it comes to gift-giving
- We will not spend the holidays with both families – we will alternate between the two families every year so that we can honor #1 above
B and I have talked a bit about what each of our families did for the holidays, but until this year, those conversations were in passing and we didn’t really dwell on anything because we had no idea what we wanted our traditions to be. This year, we did discuss what each of our families did and we incorporated aspects of each into our own holidays with Matthew.
These conversations were rather short – because B’s family had two traditions besides gift-giving. They decorated the tree together, and B’s dad opened each ornament and gave it to the child who it belonged to and let him/her put it on the tree wherever they wanted it to be. And they woke up to the smell of blueberry muffins on Christmas morning. They ate muffins (and crescent rolls) and opened presents. Sure, they went to Grandma’s the night before and their aunt and uncle’s every-other year for the holidays, but as far as their immediate family’s traditions go, tree decorating and blueberry muffins were it.
My family’s holidays were a bit more complicated (but fun). We spent tons of time making Christmas cookies together – all sorts! Our favorites were the sugar cookies but we also enjoyed the Spritzes my mom would make (they are awesome in milk). We would spend time as a family wrapping presents together, in disguised boxes so that no one knew what we were wrapping. We decorated the house together (this was not fun – too much micro-managing from our parents every.single.year) and listened to Christmas music all season long. We opened presents the weekend before Christmas so that we were free to travel and spend time with extended family on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Santa came to our house (he was a wonderful Santa and he came from the time I was 2 until I was 13) the Saturday before Christmas and brought us a very special gift at that time. Our grandparents would come over and we’d get all dressed up (ugh), have a huge Christmas dinner, welcome Santa, and then open presents. It was quite fun and memorable, aside from getting dressed up 😉
On Christmas Eve, we went to my dad’s folks’ house and had a great time with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. This was yet another formal affair (ugh) but it was super fun, nonetheless. My sister would play the organ and we would sing Christmas carols together. We had another huge, formal meal, opened presents, and played games together with the sound of traditional Christmas music playing in the background. My best Christmas memories are of this time, without a doubt. We would go to Christmas service (not mass) as an immediate family at midnight (my dad’s family went to mass) and we loved that because all we did was sing Christmas carrols and the church had a fabulous choir! We would come home, snuggle into bed, and then wake up Christmas morning to stuffed stockings (we knew that they were filled by Mom and Dad because Santa had already come to see us the weekend before) before loading up the car to head to my mom’s family’s home 3.5 hours away. Once there, we spent the next day and night with cousins, cousins, and more cousins! Even more fun memories there!
So – when you strip out the extended family events, my family had many traditions. Some worth keeping (cookies, Christmas music) and some worth scrapping (making the decorating of the house a miserable affair).
So, without further delay, here is what we did, and what will continue to be traditions for our family:
- We will most definitely listen to Christmas music in the house (and in the car) from Thanksgiving through Christmas – all sorts of Christmas music as long as it’s peppy
- The house will be decorated by the family but it will be fun, dammit! Any aspect of it that is not fun will be handled by me, myself, and I as to spare everyone the agony of my control issues
- We will always have Christmas lights in front of our house, and they will be the type that make our children happy (colored lights, lighted lawn ornaments) – not the ones that make me happy (white lights)
- We will go on several drives each week to look at Christmas lights
- The year that we spend Christmas with B’s family (they live close by), we will have a Christmas Eve dinner with our closest couple friends and their child(ren). We did this two years ago and again this year, and it was the best part of Christmas for us both!
- Sugar cookies will be made sometime during the holidays. I made the cookies the day before Christmas Eve and we frosted them Christmas night. That was not my plan, but Matthew’s sickness made things hard on Christmas day. Next year, I hope to have them done by the night of Christmas Eve *
- Christmas Eve will be spent with extended family before coming home for dinner with our friends
- Christmas morning will be greeted with homemade raspberry and/or strawberry muffins and boxed blueberry muffins (for B!)
- Christmas morning will always be spent at home unless we are on a fun trip
- B and I will wrap the kids’ gifts together – we did that this year and had a great time together!
- Christmas day will be loosely scheduled – up in the air. It was nice being home but we also missed being with family this year. We will definitely spend time on Christmas day with B’s family the year that we’re spending with them, but it won’t be as much time as we’ve spent in the past
- We will ALWAYS have backup food ready to cook on Christmas day in case we get snowed/sicked in. HA!
So there you go – that’s my plan for our holiday traditions going forward. I couldn’t have come up with all of that without going through the motions of a holiday season with a real, bona-fide toddler 🙂
Now, much of this won’t apply for next year because my dad has already Bogart-ed all of Christmas (24th – 27th) with a family trip to Colorado, but I’m willing to take one for the team (my family) next year so that I never have to do it again . This will allow us to re-establish our traditions going forward from there. Sometimes, you have to give your controlling parents what they want, so that you can ultimately end up with what you want in the end 😉
* B has ALWAYS asked me to make sugar cookies with red hots. I have never done it. I’ve never had the desire, until this year. It made me really happy to do this for him 🙂
December 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm
I love this. I especially love that you’ve decided (after next year) to have Christmas at home.
Since it’s just the two of us, I haven’t been able to come up with traditions yet. I see that changing next year — your old/new traditions have given me a few ideas!
December 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm
I think it’s so hard to “plan” your traditions. I think you just have to try stuff out. Last year, I set way too high of expectations for myself and failed miserably. I knew better this year and just did what we could do, and ended up enjoying most of it!
Next year, you will be three 😉
December 30, 2012 at 10:16 am
Love all of your new ideas that you have figured out for your own family traditions to come. It definitely helps to have a year or two under your belt to know what works and what doesn’t work for you and your family. I think we learned that this year too. We had a very relaxed Christmas and hope to do the same most years! Stress sucks! 🙂
December 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm
Relaxed is the best way to go. Why put so much pressure on ourselves just because it’s the holidays? I don’t understand it. Yet, I still do it every single year.
I’m sure we’ll add/remove some things next year. I refuse to be rigid with traditions. Except the cookies… there will always be cookies! And pie! Lots and lots of pie!
January 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm
#12 made me laugh. I still think your hunt for Christmas Day food will be a great story down the line. 🙂 I agree that traditions should be flexible and should evolve naturally. This year after we took the girls to see the lights we came home and had chili and corn bread and I was like, this was the perfect evening- TRADITION BORN. We’re doing a see the lights/have homemade chili the weekend before every Christmas! 😉 it’s such a cool thing to have the opportunity to figure these things out with our own little families…
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