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Question of the Week - Holiday Traditions

Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it!

There are so many holidays this time of year, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Eid to Kwanzaa to the Winter Solstice. (I'm probably missing some--please forgive me if I am.) Holidays tend to be a time for gathering together with family and friends and taking part in traditions.

As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas and all the hoopla that goes along with it. Growing up, it was always a magic time of year. A bright spot in the middle of dark winter, full of family, good food, presents and traditions. Some of my favorite associations with the holiday are decorating the tree (tinsle is my favorite part of the tree, and I was always the designated tinsle decorator), playing Christmas carols on the piano with my dad, pulling out the figurine and placing it on the handmade cloth advent calendar each day of December, setting out the figures in my mom's beautiful creshe and hot cider with cinnamon and (when I was older) rum.

On Christmas mornings, whichever of us kids woke up first would wake the others up. We'd wake up my parents, and while they got out of bed, we were allowed to run downstairs and open our stockings. That gave my parents some time to wash up and make coffee. After that, we'd have some breakfast and then get to the important business of opening the presents. We took turns, youngest to oldest, which was ideal for me as the youngest.

Now that I have my own family, I can't really think of many traditions that we have created yet. Londo and I have always opened one present on Christmas Eve, and I'm sure we'll keep that tradition. Every year, I do holiday baking with my niece (except this year, because I'm too tired :-( but we are going to do New Year's baking instead), and I can't wait until my children are old enough to participate in that. But that's pretty much it. We trade Christmas and Thanksgiving between my parents' house and my in-laws' house. But that's not really a family tradition so much as obligations to the larger family. So I'm still working on thinking what our traditions will be. I hope to get a creshe and an advent calendar like my mom has, but I hope to create some that are just ours.

So the question of the week is:
What holiday traditions do you have with your family?

Share anything special you do with your spouse and kids, or things that meant a lot to you growing up.

And Happy Holidays to everyone!


Becoming Mommy said…
I remember spending hours arranging and rearranging the Nativity set (my Mom's is actually the entire town of Bethlehem). So it was important to me we get a large set that would hold up to the same abuse from my kids. Thankfully, we've been able to.
Another tradition is the Christmas for the Animals part. After all, this season can be hard on all of God's wild we string popcorn and berries and make seed ornaments to hang on our front yard trees. We put them up a month ago. Nothing is left of them.
I want to get an Advent calendar next year that will help him count down the days. We also have family stories to hand down...
...who are Santa's spies?
...what stories do we read Christmas eve after service?
...Magical tales of seeing Santa and other Christmas Miracles.
I also like the idea of a Birthday Cake at Christmas dinner, only our kid hates cake.
-goofydaddy said…
we just started a tradition this year, because we got an early present from a family friend. It's called The Elf on the Shelf

it's really cool, Aria got to name her elf, and he reports to Santa every night. when he comes back in the morning, he's someplace different and she has to find him. on christmas eve, he goes back to the north pole with Santa when he's done at our house, and stays there until next December.
paola said…
Merry Christmas Caramama.

Last Christmas Noah and I started the tradition of making gingerbread biscuits to leave out for Santa on Christmas eve. I'm hoping this will stick as a tradition, but I'm already losing interest as I'm quite busy this year with organising Christmas Day and don't think I'll have time to do it. Fortunately Noah has reminded me a few times- will really have to make an effort as I'd hate to disappoint him.
Cloud said…
My family does stockings in an unusual way- everyone gives to everyone else. We wrap up stupid little gifts and then on Christmas morning, we have to guess who gave us what.

I'd like to continue that tradition with Pumpkin. We'll see, though- Hubby finds shopping for the stupid little gifts stressful!

The one tradition Hubby and I have started is to adopt a family through a local charity.
HeatherY said…
My husband's family is huge and we get together with them the weekend before Christmas. We used to spend Christmas Eve with his Dad's side of the family but now that Sweet Pea is old enough, we are staying home. Growing up, we always made cookies together and helped decorate the tree. Christmas was always a time to relax and enjoy being together!
Anonymous said…
Happy Holidays to everyone!

I like becoming mommy's "who are Santa's spies" game. That sounds like fun. I'll have to check the "Elf on the Shelf" that goofydaddy mentioned.

As for our traditions, we don't really have any of our own yet either. I like to make cookies from this one cookbook I got a few years ago. And the tradition of the egg nog drink, Trogg's Nog, just doesn't seem appropriate for a toddler. :)

My MIL gives us each a new PEZ dispenser each year in our stockings which is cute. My own mom used to put oranges and walnuts into my stocking each year so walnuts always make me think of Christmas.

I dunno. I need to think about this one because it's probably a good time to start our own tradition.
Colleen said…
We do St. Nick's Day (Dec. 6th --from Justin's family), and we read the Christmas story (Biblical one) before we open gifts. Since the kids are little, we read a kid's version, but as they get older, we'll pull out the actual Scriptures. We also try to go to the 11pm Christmas service at church on the 24th, but I think with Cooper's habit of turning into the Tasmanian Devil without sleep, we'll shoot for the 9pm service this year. Another tradition we started is going to get a picture with Santa, then walking over to the IHOP for dinner afterwards. We've also begun letting Gavin decorate sugar cookies (pics at my sight forthcoming...), which has been a lot of fun, too. :)

If I don't catch up again with you beforehand, have a wonderful Christmas.
Christmas was always christmas eve at my grandparents, tree overloaded with gifts, wrapping paper flying, hanging out with my best friend my cousin, eating lots of my grandma's cookies and dancing to chuck berry.

Things have changed over time and although we still go over there, and will still dance now I think we will play scatagories and there will be much less presents. So heSaid and I have started our own. We do a christmas brunch at our house, a big fire, us in PJ's, opening gifts... everyone is welcome, no one is expected to come. Oh and christmas eve morning I help my mom wrap all of her gifts... including the one to me :)
Kat said…
As an atheist family we want to keep the magic of the season without being total hypocrites!

We celebrate the shortest day and open presents every evening after supper from then until new year.

We stay home on Christmas day and although we have previously hosted family we're keeping it just for ourselves this year (toddler and 7 months pregnant - don't fancy cooking for a huge gathering!).

In previous years we have headed out to join my Father's family on Boxing Day (26th) but due to an outbreak of mumps amoungst my cousins that is off this year too! That is my one disappointment as my happiest memories are of Christmas time with them. We always take a family group shot when we're together and my daughter's first seasonal present from us was an album to keep them in.

Without fail we watch The Snowman ( on the 24th - it is the best!

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