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!
- 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!