Looking back on my family’s holiday traditions, I’m filled with a nostalgic blend of happiness and hazy remembrance. While I can’t remember every detail of each Christmas, there are certain constants I’ve come to look forward to and appreciate each year: mom’s famous hot cocoa, trimming the Douglas Fir while watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and quoting every word, making my late grandmother, Mimi’s tea cakes, driving around to look at Christmas lights, wrapping all of Dad’s gifts to Mom! It’s funny, because I never really thought about why we did what we did every year at Christmas until I got married and realized someone started those traditions to make everything so special for our family. Those traditions, started by my parents or grandparents, made Christmas feel like Christmas for me and my brother. Now with two children of my own, my husband and I have started a few traditions of our own. With two littles under four, we try not to buy into the holiday season craziness of trying to do all the things all the time – I’m looking at you Elf on the Shelf – and instead we started a few traditions that are simple, stress-free and bring so much joy.
Read A Christmas Carol
I had been wanting to do this for years but usually deferred to watching one of the many versions my Dad has in his Christmas movie library – my favorite being A Muppets Christmas Carol. Last year my husband and I bought a vintage copy and read it aloud to each other when we found time, finishing the Dickens classic Christmas Day. We look forward this year to rereading it with fresh eyes and even bought a picture book version so our daughter can join in the fun.
Baking Christmas tea cakes for friends and family
I have always loved to bake, especially during the holidays, and some of my fondest memories involve being covered in flour helping my grandmother, Mimi, make her famous tea cakes. They’re perfect for cookie cutters and decorating with plenty of icing and sprinkles. My daughter loves to help bake these now and I love that now she’s the one covered in flour. We love to bake up several batches, package them up in pretty boxes and deliver to some of our favorite people.
Dinner, Santa and Christmas lights
We love to go somewhere fun, aka kid-friendly, for an early dinner and then visiting our local mall so the kiddos can sit on Santa’s lap – the same Santa, in fact, I visited as a little girl. I might have screamed every.single.year but thankfully our daughter adores him, to the point where she gets a little starstruck. This is our son’s first year to visit Mr. C and our daughter assures us she’ll “help him not be scared.” After Santa we like to drive around the neighborhood and admire all the Christmas lights while yes, listening to our favorite holiday tunes. In my head, I see this being like a scene from a Hallmark movie but with a three year old and her teething almost one year old brother we’ll just wish for the best.
Matching Christmas Pajamas
As newlyweds we bought each other fun pjs as Christmas Eve gifts, so now we’re taking it a step further with matching, er, coordinating pjs. Is there anything cuter than babes in holiday-themed pajamas? I think not. Thank you, Target for outfitting us this year!
Christmas Eve late night date night with my husband
The next day is all about Santa and family merriment so we like to set aside quality time with each other on one of our favorite nights of the year after the kids are snuggled in their beds. He lights the fire, I whip up a quick cheese plate and we watch a Christmas movie that is not animated before we settle in for a long winter’s nap.
What are your family traditions? I would love to hear. Wishing you all the happiness and magic of the season!