For as long as I can remember, I’ve always thought of December as a magical month. Christmas has always been a time for me to dream and believe that anything was possible. Growing up, my family didn’t have many holiday traditions, but there were enough to make the holidays feel magical to me. When I became a mom, I was determined to create both magical and long-lasting traditions with my family. Most of our most treasured traditions started when our kids were little, and have developed and changed as they have grown. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Decorating our tree, the day after Thanksgiving. The last time we had a real tree was 23 years ago. That year my daughter was 10 months old, and we when we brought our tree home it had the most crooked trunk we had ever seen. It would not go into the stand so my husband took it back. You read that correctly, he took the tree back, returned it, and got a different one. The next year, during black Friday, we purchased our beloved artificial tree and so started our tradition of decorating our tree as soon as possible after Thanksgiving.
- Snow globe decorating. Every Christmas I buy each of our kids a snow globe. At first it was all about unwrapping to see what scene was inside the globe. As our kids grew up, the tradition became more about a special night where they set them up together. Every year, I take them out from storage, unwrap them, and hand them out so my kids can decorate their self-assigned shelves in our family room.
- Advent Calendars. This tradition was started by my mother-in-law. Every Thanksgiving she would give each of her grandchildren an Advent Calendar. Once she stopped driving, and could no longer shop, I decided to keep this tradition alive for her, and in memory of her.
- Lighting and snuffing out our Advent Wreath at dinner. On the first Sunday of Advent, we place our advent wreath in the center of the table and light it every evening at dinner. As you can imagine, the best part of this tradition when the kids were little was snuffing the candles when we finished dinner.
- Elf on the Shelf. When my youngest son was 7 or 8 years old, this tradition started. Jingle and Jazzy, our elves, are not traditional scout elves. They are a bit bigger (more like stuffed animal sized) and they do crazy things in our house, especially now that our kids are older, and less interested in them ☹.
- Sprinkle Pancakes for Christmas morning breakfast. Cookie sprinkles (or jimmies) meet pancakes to make Christmas morning even sweeter.
These traditions are 20+ years strong, so it never occurred to me that they would ever be in jeopardy of changing or even worse ending. But as my kids grew older, it became harder to find a day that everyone in the family could get together to do these things. Someone was always missing, and it didn’t feel the same. Sadly, I was beginning to think that these traditions weren’t as meaningful to my family as they were to me. Emotions were getting the best of me and I was caught between trying to force our traditions to happen at all costs, or ending them.
Luckily for me, last week, I overheard my youngest tell my husband that he was selected to do an introduction for an upcoming Christmas show he was performing in. Apparently, he had to submit one of his favorite Christmas traditions, and he wrote about his snow globes. He shared that story last weekend while introducing the Seniors in their final performance of the show. It was at that moment that I finally realized that it’s okay for us to grow out of some of our traditions and to make new ones, because as long as they include being together, lots of laughter, and love, Christmas will ALWAYS be magical for me.
Neighbor, in this magical season, whatever Holiday and traditions you celebrate, I wish you good health, light, laughter and love!