Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Traditions Make the Holidays Bright

The holidays often feel overwhelming, and that can make it difficult to stay positive and enjoy the festive season with our friends and family. Between fighting off the mobs in the malls to buy gifts, booking flights or rental cars, putting up all the decorations and doing your baking, plus maybe hosting a Christmas dinner or party there seems to be little time left to REALLY enjoy the holiday season and Grinch-like tendencies start to set in.

This is my first year celebrating Christmas with my own family unit (hubby and the boy-o) and we've already committed to a few traditions that we hope to continue throughout the years, as well as build new ones as the boy-o gets older. It's up to you what kinds of traditions you want to set with your own family, but even now that I have my own family, the "yearly stuff" that happened each Christmas are some of my fondest memories!

Here's a few of my favourite holiday traditions from when I was a kid:

1. Music Boxes. I don't know how old I was when this tradition got started, but I know that for as long as I can remember it was always something I looked forward to! Every year one of females in the family got a new Christmas themed music box (me, my sister, or my mom) and we would line them all up across the fireplace mantel. Then each night before we went to bed we would each select one to wind up and play. Music boxes began to fade in popularity after a while though, so it became really hard to find them and sadly the acquiring of new ones ended, although they still get displayed each year.


2. Christmas Pins. Another yearly tradition we had was getting a new Christmas themed pin on our stockings. It was always a lot of fun to try and guess which one was the new one, and as the years went on it became harder and harder to tell since there were so many! We still carry on this tradition today, except that now that my sister and I are grown up we take turns buying the pins too so my mum gets a surprise as well. We've extended this tradition to our partners too, so that since their first Christmas celebrating with my family they've gotten pins on their stockings too.


3. Boxing Day Lunch. One of my Dad's best buddies is affectionately referred to as "Uncle" Randy, and since we were quite little we've had the tradition of getting together with him (and before she passed away, with his mom "Grandma" Hadash) for a delicious lunch every boxing day! The lunch is always roughly the same, and it's awesome! He has his own sausage made at the butchers, there's perogies, cheese, crackers, pickles, and all sorts of relishes and canned experiments to test out. This one has been harder to maintain since we've moved away from home, but whenever we are home for Christmas proper (rather than an early/late celebration), we make sure to make a lunch date for Boxing Day!

4. New Year's Day Soup Kitchen. This wasn't a "family" tradition, but it was a yearly activity that some friends and I started when we were in high school. Every year on New Years Day we would volunteer with the Inn of the Good Shepherd (a local soup kitchen) to serve meals to anyone looking for something hot to eat. It made us feel good to know that we were helping people who were less fortunate than we were, and it helped us to develop a better awareness of others. This was an excellent way to end the holiday season, and it helped to set us in the right mind frame for the coming year!

So, now fast forward to my own family and what holiday traditions will we have?

1. Advent Calendar. We have bought a wooden re-useable advent calendar that will be brought out every year. Rather than simply filling it with chocolates however, I plan to make the calendar a little more creative as the boy-o gets older. Some days might just be a chocolate, but other days will contain riddles like a treasure hunt to find the prize, or instructions for activities that require family interaction like making paper snowflakes or building a snow fort. Since I'll be the one putting the item in each day I can make sure the weather is co-operating for snow related activities etc. I think the calendar will be a great way to promote some family bonding and provide us with some silly memories.


2. Rudolf Gift. I really hate the commercialism of the holidays, and I think it's quite silly to spend a small fortune on gifts at Christmas, so rather than go crazy buying everyone big gifts we'll have the Rudolf tradition instead. Everyone will of course have their stocking and a few small things to open, but each year ONE person will receive the "Rudolf" gift. An extra gift that Rudolph has left which will be something beyond what we would normally get for each other. The recipient of the Rudolph gift will change each year so everyone has a turn.

3. Christmas Morning at Home. Travelling at Christmastime can be rough... and my parents and hubby's parents don't even live in the same province! So we've decided that Christmas morning will be spent at our own house. We will wake up Christmas morning at home, and after we've done our own family gifts and what-not then we can take on the task of travelling We think it's important to make sure that we take time to strengthen our own family traditions and celebrations, and thankfully the Grandparents were all supportive of this decision!

4. Mass on Christmas Eve. Tis the Reason for the Season after all! I always liked going to mass Christmas Eve as a kid to the "Family Service" when they had the pageant re-enactment, and I hope to continue that tradition with my own family. I think it's a pretty crucial part of Christmas to keep CHRIST in it, and the boy-o (as well as any future siblings) will grow up understanding why we celebrate Christmas, and why that little baby boy changed the world.

Your Turn!
So what are some of your favourite holiday traditions, either from when you were a kid, or ones that you've started with your own family?