When we first got married, there was a little tension on deciding upon Christmas Traditions for our family. Phil and I each had a few of our own that we wanted to continue, and that caused us to compromise and create a system that worked for us. So here's the Top 7 Christmas Traditions we have (linking up with Kelly!):
1) CHRISTMAS DECORATING
We decorate the (fake) tree and house on Black Friday while drinking cocoa with marshmallows and listening to Christmas music. It's early to do it, but Thanksgiving has happened (no Christmas before Thanksgiving!!) and it's a day we are all at home from work and school, so it makes it easy to schedule.
2) ST. NICHOLAS DAY
We put little gifts in the kids stockings on the feast of St. Nicholas.
I try to be smart about what they get on this day - like kneepads for basketball that they need, or hat and gloves that they need, some gum and chapstick too. Nothing big, usually just something I would have bought them anyway that I can disguise as a gift. Christmas pjs/slippers/socks are a good idea so they can wear them all season, as are Christmas books/movies. This year they all got spending money to buy a gift for their secret santa sibling. Again, something I always give them, so I decided to make it part of St. Nick's gifts.
3) FAMILY TIME
I still make the kids take Christmas Card photos together and if we get a good one (we always do!) we get a treat after...usually donuts We also try to go somewhere holiday-themed as a family. God willing, that's going to happen tomorrow (see my last post about the pressure I put on myself to make this one happen)! We also watch a few Christmas movies together. This year we already watched the Christmas Chronicles (on Netflix) and will watch The Star soon (we own it - so good) and The Nativity Story (also a good one to own, though Mary's labor scene isn't my favorite, but Joseph is a gem).
4) GIFT WRAPPING
Phil and I wrap gifts on a night in mid-December while watching Elf. We used to have to wait until the kids were all in bed to wrap, but that's getting so hard with teens who stay up later than me. Since my parents moved in two years ago, we can now wrap gifts downstairs in their condo while the big kids are awake upstairs. We don't wait until the last minute to wrap gifts because I need time to sort and make sure everybody's pile is "fair" and sometimes that means I need to run out and return things or buy an extra gift.
5) BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR JESUS
We go to Christmas Eve Mass at 4 and take a family photo after (this is my Christmas gift to myself!).
Then we have a Birthday Party for Jesus after Mass, complete with a birthday cake and candles and singing. Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the whole year - I just love the magical anticipation of it all! We try to go for a long run together and bake and cook for the next day. There's always Christmas music playing and holiday scented candles lit. Everyone is in a great mood and it's just so wonderful.
6) CHRISTMAS EVE
We open one present on Christmas Eve. The kids get 3 presents on Christmas morning (like Jesus did) so this bonus present the night before comes in handy for a mom who loves to shop and gift give. I always seem to end up with more than three for each, as I shop sales and stockpile throughout the year. Our Gift Guide is worth looking through if you need some ideas.
7) CHRISTMAS MORNING
On Christmas Morning, the kids can't come downstairs until 6 am (growing up that rule was 7, but we have little early risers) and they HAVE to stop and pose for a photo on the stairs.
I put the cinnamon rolls in the oven while Phil makes coffee. We all open presents together, taking turns to make the process last longer. We usually "pause" to eat breakfast (always cinnamon rolls with eggs, sausage, fruit, etc) and continue the gift giving after.
Then we just spend time together and relax until it's time to pack up and head to my sister's house with my whole side of the family. There we have a huge feast (everybody brings dishes) and a gift swap for the adults (14) and for the children (22). It's always a beautiful day when I let go of my perfect expectations and just enjoy being with my peeps :)
What's a tradition you just *have* to do or it doesn't feel like Christmas?