The holidays are here and that means excited children, tired parents and the occasional linty candy cane. There is so much to do, to wrap, to bake, and never enough time. But the thing I love most about the holidays is the opportunity to get together with the entire family, relax and indulge, all in the name of Santa.
As a little girl, my father owned his own business (still does) so he worked long hours, seven days a week. We loved the holidays because it meant a guaranteed couple of days where we were together. We would spend the holidays surrounded by tons of family, many platters of food and an avalanche of presents.
On Christmas Eve, we would dress up and go to church every year, and afterward, we would put on our Christmas pajamas. Christmas involved eating a huge afternoon meal, opening presents, followed by desserts and coffee. The rest of the day would be spent playing with our new toys, and watching movies. It was wonderful.
Now that I’m married with my own children, I’ve tried to instill some of our own traditions surrounding the holidays, to help keep the excitement high the entire month, although it doesn’t take much with two young children. Regardless of the activity or event, we try to tweak it and make it our own any way we can. Here are some of the things we do this time of year:
Leading up to Christmas:
- The “men” put up the Christmas lights, while the girls watch them freeze their tushies off.
- We put up the tree – I do the lights, and the kids decorate it as high as they can reach– it thrills them, and we don’t mind it looking a little lopsided as long as they’re happy.
- We dress up in our holiday best to visit Santa for the annual photo.
- We write our letters to Santa and send them to the North Pole.
- Each child has their own advent calendars, which they love and really look forward to every morning (we buy a toy one and a chocolate one for each).
- We make cookies and treats with the cousins.
- We read festive books, watch many holiday movies and listen to Christmas music all month long.
- We do many Christmas crafts throughout the month.
- The kids pick out little gifts and cards for each other and their mommy & daddy, and then wrap their own gift.
On Christmas Eve:
- We have a special “formal” dinner with candles, and wine glasses and a special dinner.
- The entire family gets new holiday pjs, that we get to open on Christmas Eve (this was something I did as a child).
- We put out cookies and milk for Santa. We also put out a bowl of lettuce for the reindeer.
On Christmas Morning:
- The children get to open their stockings while they wait for breakfast
- We have a big breakfast with waffles, and French toast and BACON!
- And then of course, it’s a present free for all!!!
After opening our presents, we dress up in our Christmas outfits, and head over my parents house for the big meal of the day. That is one tradition that has not changed – every year, all the siblings and their families spend the day. The table has grown from 7 people to 19 over the years, and it’s loud and fun and the food is neverending. After we all eat, it’s more presents followed by toy playing, coffee, desserts, card games, movies, more drinks, more desserts, and intermittent snacking,
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.