Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Favorite Family Holiday Traditions

Continuing with me "12 days of Christmas" series and linking up to Kelly's Korner's Family Traditions today, here are some of my favorite family traditions....some of these traditions aren't as strong anymore since we don't all live at home, but these are the memories I loved growing up and I will likely pass on many of them to my kids...  I seriously wish every single person in the world could experiance Christmas at my house, it truly is the most wonderful time of year.  My mom is like a Christmas guru and had a good balance of fun traditions and a focus on the real reason for Christmas.

(I left out the obvious ones like Christmas Eve Service and Communion, opening gifts, reading the Christmas story, cookies for Santa, etc...because these are traditions almost everyone!)

(1) Decorating the Tree Traditions

Decorating the tree at our house involved Christmas music, cookies and cocoa/cider! It was always an event! Our special "decorating" cookies were really just peanut butter with chocolate kisses, but at that time, I thought they were very unique and special cookies we usually got at Christmas, particularly when decorating the tree!

(2) New ornaments each year.

Everyone gets a new ornament each year and we each get to look back and see our past year's ornaments and hobbies or interests (soccer, ballet, cheerleading, college football). We used to get the dough ornaments but now we go to Calloways a couple days before Christmas when the ornaments are half off.  Last year, my whole fam couldn't go so Marley and I went and bought us all ornaments. We took our job seriouly, no lie -- it took an hour to pick everyone's ornaments out.  Mine was special yet silly, but that will have to be discussed in another post.

(3) Radko Ornaments, Nutcrackers and other holiday collections

About 10 years ago, my mom, Marley and I started collecting Radko glass ornaments - one a year. Now Ansley is joining in!

My dad has collected nutcrackers for years and we have dozens that go up at Christmas!

(4) Special holiday plates-- one set for brunch/christmas eve  and one for dinner!

(5) gingerbread house decorating

We loved decorating gingerbread houses and did it every year!

When I was little, mom would often make the graham cracker houses and have our friends over for a decorating party....and by little, I mean as recently as my senior year of high school :)

(6) A week of movies after Christmas.

So many movies come out the week of Christmas.  Since we were out of school or home for college during those couple weeks before/after Christmas, our family went to see a lot of movies together, always a treat.  Sometimes we saw a matinee and an evening movie!

(7) One gift at a time and the gift "god"/dictator

Some families dive into their gifts, and although there is nothing wrong with it, I love how we go youngest to oldest, each opening one gift at a time. We all grab coffee and cocoa and cinnamon rolls and settle into the den for presents.  This way I get to see my sister open her gift I bought her and she gets to see me open my bracelet I want, etc etc.... Christmas takes awhile as we stop often to get more cofffee, clean up paper and ooh and ahh over someone else's gifts...but as my mom says, Christmas comes once a year, so why not relish in it?  Also watching eachother open gifts taught us the value of giving, not just getting, gifts.  Even as a kid, I can remember being so excited to get each member of my family a gift!

We used to call marley the present "god", but that could sound well, bad, so we call her the dictator now.  She has usually helped mom wrap a lot of gifts-- and the gifts are in the living room under the other tree (we have two trees) so she will pick out everyone's gift each round...and she usually has an idea about which gift we should open next.  My brother in law jokingly pointed out she was like a gift god/dictator on his first Christmas with us.  :) We may tease her about being the one in control of gift distribution, but she does a good job and no one else wants to volunteer for the job!

(8)  Christmas eve PJ's

Every Christmas eve, we open our pajamas to wear for Christmas morning. When I was little, they were holiday themed and matched the other kids.  Now, they are just warm pajamas for winter.  I think this is one holiday tradition I will change a bit for my kids -- I will give them pjs at the beginning of Christmas season or advent so that they can wear their pj's all december!

Christmas Eve, late 80s??

P.S. You know you are southern when you are not allowed downstairs to open gifts Christmas morning until your teeth are brushed, face washed and a hairbow is in your hair!

(9) Christmas light tour.

We always go look at Christmas lights...when I was little, we would bundle up in our pj's one night in december and take cocoa with us.

(10) Baby Jesus

Baby Jesus did not go into the manger until Christmas Eve....I think this was probably my earliest picture of Advent: the whole creche set up without the baby, waiting on Jesus' arrival!

(11)  Game night

Recently we have started an annual game night with two families that we are close to here in my parents hometown.  It is always a blast.

(12) Sleeping in the same room.

Marley and I started this tradition by default: we shared a room.  As we got older, we would sleep in the kids rooms with them, eagerly awaiting Christmas.  All 4 kids in one bedroom!!  I loved this :)


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