What is your favorite holiday family tradition and how did you start it?
I have saved Christmas tree decorations from my Grandparents on both sides of my family. Every year as I dress the Christmas tree, I now hang ornaments that I remember hanging as a small child with my Nanna and Grandma. I love that other members of my family now see our Christmas tree and it helps them remember years gone by and loved ones who are no longer with us.
I plan on keeping this going and sharing this with my own son (and possible future children) who will be able to continue this.
For me Christmas is all about family and by treasuring these ornaments I know my grandparents would be imensely proud.
I love holiday traditions, from roasting pumpkin seeds after carving Halloween pumpkins to making cookies for Santa. But one of my favorite rituals is the reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve. I had my kids a bit late in life and there were years when I wondered if I would ever be blessed with children. During those wishful years, I bought of copy of Samuel Clement's classic book with gorgeous illustrations. I tucked it away for "someday" when I had my own kids. Now, when I pull it out each year, I am doubly grateful -- for the gift of my two lovely kids and the magic of Christmas as seen through their eyes.
Our family loves Christmas. Having a son with Special Needs makes me appreciate the little moments most of all. I'm so thankful for my family. We have several special and fun family holiday traditions that I’d like to share:
1. A favorite: Making Christmas cookies in a warm kitchen with Christmas music blasting and dancing and silly Santa hats. Everyone gets covered in flour and food coloring and sprinkles. The kids make crazy cookies. We all eat too many warm cookies right out of the oven! This tradition started when I was a young girl and we continue it in my home.
2. Writing Dear Santa letters. My twins are still small and so they write letters to Santa by themselves. Santa replies with a personal hand-written note from The North Pole and our local paper prints the children’s letters.
3. We sing Christmas carols and songs starting the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day! In the car, making dinner, at bedtime. Never enough Rudolph for us!
4. We watch traditional Christmas shows like Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown and all decorate the tree together with a fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate.
5. On Christmas Eve, we track Santa and like other families leave cookies and milk and carrots for Santa and the reindeer. We all wear Santa Hats on Christmas morning!
Happy Holidays! Thank you for asking me to post about our family.
It all started about 26 years ago. My husbands sister died at the tender age of 26 :( Since that day my husband would not allow me to put any kind of topper on our Christmas tree. No star or angel, no ribbon, nothing. Fast forward a few years later and we begin our family. One Christmas season my son returned home from preschool, all smiles and proud of the paper angel he had fashioned at school out of a paper plate and popsicle stick. My husband picked him up and held him up to the top of the tree where my son proudly displayed his masterpiece...here we are over 25 years later, we decorate the tree very classy, shiny and bright and the final touch is stored away safely in a n old torn tattered box and the last thing to go on the tree is his paper plate angel. I secretly like to think of it as Louise looking down at us from above.
Every year I make a stencil out of paper to look like a very large boot. On Christmas night after our kids are asleep and all the Santa work is done, I make boot prints leading out of the fireplace. I put the boot stencil on the ground and sprinkle baking soda through a sieve lightly. Lifting up the stencil I add another boot in a stepping pattern from the fireplace to the Christmas tree. As the prints get farther from the fireplace, I lighten the look of the "fireplace ash" until it is barely there. After I have all the boot prints set, I also add a few pieces of the actual coal ash from our fireplace to the baking soda prints to give a "real" look. This tradition was started the year my second child was born. Teale was in the NICU recovering from her traumatic birth and gastroschisis repair after being born on December 9th, 1998. I was looking for a little extra "magic" as the month had been so difficult on our family. We practically lived at the NiCU that year. Our son, Beau, had turned three in August and although I was excited for Christmas with him, I knew it would be tough to wake up Christmas morning without my Teale at home also. Somehow this year seemed like the perfect magical year with Beau. He was old enough to really understand the traditions, the facts around Christmas and the magic. He was so excited to "catch" Santa and was sure he would. I looked forward to seeing his face in the morning when he realized he missed catching the "Big Guy." We continue this tradition today and as each child becomes more savvy, I wonder what they think. But the truth is, Teale will probably always believe, years after her little sister, Gwenn, has discovered the truth. So every Christmas eve, after all the gifts are set under the tree and the stockings are filled, I make the boot prints and go to bed dreaming of the magic of the season.
Our holidays are rich with family traditions, probably just like any other family: gingerbread decorating, attending the Nutcracker, going out to see Christmas lights, and drinking hot cocoa from our favorite snowman mugs. But last year we started a tradition that will be one we keep for years to come, and one that changed our family forever.
Because our tenth child was born with Down syndrome, there is a special place in our hearts for all children who share her extra chromosome. Last year we discovered Reece's Rainbow, an organization that helps find families and provide grants for orphans with Down syndrome in Eastern European nations. Our family ran a giveaway for two of these orphans on our blog- as a result almost $17,000 was raised, and two families were able to commit to adopting these little girls.
The amazing thing is, that was the hardest Christmas ever for us financially... but turning our focus on others- whose needs far surpass our own- turned it into the best Christmas we've ever had.
Our family can't wait to see what will happen in years to come!
Hot Chocolate Station! We set out a pretty tray filled with hot chocolate mix, marshmallows (store-bought, or homemade if we are feeling motivated!), pretty mugs, and candy cane stirrers. The kids can help themselves, and it is nice to have out for house guests. We just started this last year when I saw another Mom doing it, and are looking forward to colder weather so we can set it up again!
The Polar Minivan Express. I got this idea from a blog a few years ago and adopted it as our own. It's been a big hit. Every Christmas, we get the kids dressed up in their jammies, make cups of hot cocoa and then get in the van which we've decorated inside with battery operated mini lights and then we drive around the neighbourhoods look at Christmas lights. It's particularly fun looking at the lights with those colored cardboard glasses. My kids love this time and as soon as Halloween is over they start saying... "do you remember last year when we looked at the lights". Lots of fun.
My fiancee and i decided last year (i was pregnant at the time) that our Christmas Holiday Tradition would b dressing in really warm in pj's, and going down to our town park for the festival of lights then taking a long drive looking at all the lights and decorations. We did it last year on Dec.18th and he proposed and we both really enjoyed the night so we decided we would make it a tradition with our daughter Brihanna who was born July 25th 2011. She will only be 5 months this year at Christmas so shes not going to remember but im sure she will still have a great time seeing all the pretty lights ♥
Every holiday, it doesn't matter which one, we make a point of celebrating the time together, just us, with no extended family. To do that we've had to pick a different day when WE make our FAMILY TIME. But with the rush oh the holiday itself and there's usually the influx of extended family or invites elsewhere as our kids get older, that together time is even more important to connect.
My son, Max, came into this world December 10. He had a stroke at birth and ended up in the NICU for two weeks. We knew he had brain damage; at first, we weren't sure he would live. He did. Despite the grim things we were told by doctors—that Max might never walk or talk, that he could have cognitive disabilities and hearing and vision issues—he went on to defy their predictions. Max walks. He is bright. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has issues with speech and using his hands but he is the most determined kid I ever met, a kid who charms everyone he meets. Every December 24th, to celebrate my son's release from the hospital, I make a donation to a group that supports kids in need, such as Save The Children. And then I give Max eleventy billion hugs.
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As a child, Christmas Eve was always special to me. That was the day we got together with our extended family to exchange gifts and celebrate. On this night we would eat special foods that were only for Christmas: red velvet cake, oyster stew, sugar cookies, fudge, and many other goodies.
Then I married a soldier. I have not spent Christmas with my family in 13 years. Some years I have felt a deep longing for those tasty traditions and familial comforts. I have incorperated many into our own celebrations. My husband's family has food traditions of their own and we have enjoyed melding them. I always make his mother's ginger cookies and my grandmother's red velvet cake. For me, these are the tastes and smells of the holidays.
One year, while we were living overseas, my cousin sent me a package for Christmas. I opened it to find homemade chocolate-covered peanut butter balls like our grandmother made when we were children. The moment I inhaled the sweet scent I began to cry. I was shocked by the power of the memories those candies invoked!
I hope that my children will have similar memories of the holidays. I want the smell of ginger cookies to flood them with feelings of love and happiness!
I have been a girl scout leader for 18 years. About 10 years ago, our troop and our family had the opportunity to go on a "Christmas Cruise" with Santa on the Great Salt Lake on December 23. This began a tradition of spending the 23rd together for what we call our Christmas Adam (because Adam comes before Eve) Party. Over the years we have done many exciting things and some not so exciting things depending on our financial situation. We rode the old steam engine in a reenactment of the Polar Express, we've gone to the movies, we've stayed home and watched movies, we had a RockBand competition...basically anything goes as long as we get the whole family together. This has become even more important to us as the kids are getting older and married. Then we can all be together on the 23rd and separate into smaller family groups for Christmas Eve.
A few days after Thanksgiving, we decorate our home for Christmas. That evening we always go out for pizza. It started when my kids were little, and I was too tired from decorating that evening to make dinner so we went out and grabbed a pizza. We've done that every year since and my kids look forward to kicking off the Christmas season with pizza.