Friday, October 05, 2007


Mary has a son that joined the military last year. She struggled with celebrating Christmas last year because she missed her son so much. She has a youngish daughter still at home that misses her brother terribly.

Mary is looking for ideas on new family traditions that she can celebrate with her husband and daughter this year. She has asked for those of us that read her blog to share our traditions with her.

Since this is really what the season is all about, imnsho, I'm more than happy to answer and hopefully bless her with some ideas. I'd love it if some of you wonderful, smart women that read this would do the same. Either in the comments here, on her blog, or make a post about it (and leave a comment telling us you did it).

Some of our traditions are really little things. Things that I thought didn't really matter at all. Until I'd try to change something and the girls would absolutely revolt! The little things seem to mean the most to the girls!

Our traditions:

  • The tree (and all decorations) goes up on the Friday after Thanksgiving. No excuses. We always make cocoa or spiced cider (yes, even when the weather isn't too cold) and the girls always put their own ornaments on the tree. Dad puts the generic ornaments and his and mine on there. I sort.
  • We break out the Christmas music on the trip home from Thanksgiving Dinner. Every year. We have the same CD (A Very Special Christmas) that we play first.
  • At least once a week we watch a Christmas movie. Sometimes more. They vary each year but we always, always watch Christmas Vacation. Always. And usually Scrooged. And usually It's a Wonderful Life. We try to include a new one each year, but lately the adults have had to watch them first because we've found some *really* inappropriate ones!
  • Every year we make a Christmas picture. It's always with the 3 girls sitting in the same spot around the tree. I try to get them clothes that match in some way or they're in their jammies or some such thing. They are really starting to not like the matching thing. So we may drop that this year. And the picture goes in the Christmas cards that we send out each year. So this picture has to be made right after the tree goes up.
  • We always make the traditional cutout Christmas cookies and we decorate them. Last year I found recipes for three different kinds of dough that I made ahead of time and froze so that was super easy and made all the difference. Store bought dough would work too and we've used it in the past.
  • We try to have a different Christmas breakfast every year. Something that we see in a magazine or just something that looks yummy. It has to be super, super easy or, preferably, something that I can make ahead. Christmas morning is too busy and fun to spend in the kitchen.
  • Every year we make something homemade to give as gifts. This goes to people like the mailman or teachers at school. It also goes to grandparents (along with other things of course) and aunts and uncles. One year we made Mixed Bean Soup Jars (with rave reviews). One year Chocolate Chip Cookie Jars. Many years I'll mold candy (this is a hobby that I adore, but it's so time consuming and has to be made so last minute for it to be fresh, that I've all but given it up at this busy season in my life). This year I found these fabulous square, heavy, blue plates on a clearance sale for like 50 cents each. I plan to make homemade cookies and wrap them in colorful plastic wrap for the homemade gift.
  • The girls each get their own ornament every year. On Christmas morning they have to "find" it on the tree. When they move out, they get to take their ornaments so they have some wonderful memories to put on their first trees. I try to make the ornaments match their lives that year if at all possible. Like when Jessica turned 16 it had something to do with a car. And when she graduated high school it was a little cap and gown with the year on it. The younger girls have gotten things like ballet slippers or doggie bones with a new dogs name on it. And always the year printed on it. I'm a stickler for that.
  • Every year we put the video camera beside the bed and the girls can only peek downstairs before they get us up. We turn on the camera and capture all the excitement. It's almost all on one tape. So we can watch them grow up, Christmas after Christmas, all in a row.
  • We take our time opening gifts. We watch one another. We celebrate with one another. If the girls get the same thing (which they frequently do) we number them or put a special matching sticker on them so they know to open them at the same time so it's not spoiled for the other girls. It can take us hours to open presents. We sometimes even eat breakfast in the middle!

Okay, that's all I can thing of off the top of my head. I'm sure I'll think of more later and will add to it as I do.

Please share your traditions!


Hi. My name is Alanna. said...

Michelle - that is a great idea about the video!! I don't have nearly enough on video. That's a great one! As for our family traditions - Since I never seem to be able to post a SHORT post, I decided to post a LONG post ;) of ours. It didn't cover them all, but did mention some of the important ones we love most. So, come on over and check them out:

Mary said...

Michelle, these are awesome! My favorite is putting the tree up right after Thanksgiving. We are definately going to do that. Oh how I wish I would have thought of giving the kids their own ornaments each year. But, I am going to set aside some ornaments for Andrew and some for Ashley, and start a collection of "Tennessee" tree ornaments for her. We love all things orange.  (We live just a few miles from TN State University and there is a BIG home game tomorrow.)Even though we do put great emphasis on the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place, I hesitate to say this... but this is the first year Ashley knows about Santa. Yes, she will be 12 next month. So, things are truly different this year. Thank you for helping me find ways to celebrate this year! I do so appreciate it!

"My Little Wonders" said...

We celebrate almost the same. It is a wonderful family time here too. Grandma buys the kids the collectable Halmark ornaments with the years on them. The kids love them and they put there own on the tree also. It is getting to be so many that we are going to have to just do a kids ornament tree.
I love the cooking all the holidays bring also.
Loved the post....

sara said...

Hi! I found your blog through reading Alanna's blog. This idea for compiling Christmas traditions is great!

My family's traditions have much to do with food and maximizing the time we can spend together, rather than spending all day in the kitchen. We used to do a traditional Christmas Breakfast, followed by a big Christmas Lunch. That was a huge hassle--tying to have breakfast, open presents, and then put together a big lunch. It was a stress.

So, now, we do a Christmas Brunch and a Christmas Dinner. That way, we get to take our time with meal preparations. Usually brunch will be something like egg casserole and cheesy grits, and both of those can be prepared the night before. For Christmas Dinner, we grill! But, that's because we're in Texas and want to take advantage of our warm winter! Before dinner, we also read the Biblical story of Christmas. Last year, we each took turns reading a verse. (It's fun to give kids verses with big words in them!)

We also invite extended family who live in the area to come over for a dessert party after dinner, and that's always a lot of fun!

I think my favorite Christmas was a couple of years ago. We divided the family into groups of two, and each group was responsible for one part of the meal. It was a lot of fun to see the family working together!

I hope this helps!

Mary said...

Here is what we've come up with so far. We decided to put the emphasis on helping others celebrate the season. We have no family around here to celebrate with, so everything we do will either be by ourselves, or with people in our church.

At a retirement center, our church is going to host a "craft day and singing time". We are going to make a few crafts with the residents, and sing Christmas carols.

Ashley and I are making cookies to give away to anyone we come in contact with.

We went to sign up to volunteer at a local soup kitchen to help with their Christmas meal. They were swamped with help for the month of December, so we signed up to help once a month for the year 2008. It's not a "Christmas" time, but signing up to help can be a Christmas tradition.

We are going to try to see how many Secret Santa type things we can do for others without them knowing. If they find out, it does not count. The total is to be kept secret, to ourselves too.

SO far, so good! THis goes along with all of the holiday decorating, that will start the day after Thanksgiving! I can't wait!~ Mary

Hi. My name is Alanna. said...

Wow - what do you do to separate your bd and Christmas with them being so close? Ever try celebrating one in July? ;)

WHOW said...

I came to your blog to look at your meal plan for the week and just scrolled down. I love your Christmas Traditions. My husband and I were talking a lot about this last year around Christmas. We don't have kids yet but we were trying to think of traditions that we want to do with our family in the future (hope that makes since). Right now the only one that can really be a tradition is putting up our tree the day after Thanksgiving.

My name is Michelle. said...

Alanna, what a great post you did on this topic! Thank you. As far as the BD thing goes, no. It doesn't matter to me now. But it was rough as a kid! I'd get Christmas presents that said "Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday". Not. Cool.

Mary, you're more than welcome! And don't think we don't know about the TN games! We're just a little south and west of you in Chattanooga! My girls are TN nuts. And it's never too late to start the ornament thing! Sounds like you're coming up with tons of great things to do!

Lori, I love the cooking too! But definitely have to watch what I eat or I'll blow up!

Sara, Christmas brunch is a great idea! We'd almost have to have a snack first though because we still get up so early! LOL Thanks for visiting and for sharing!

Whow, I encourage you to start as many traditions as possible now. It will have even more meaning as the years go by. And thank you so much for all of your kind words. And for visiting!