Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year! I just love all the lights and cheer and magic that happens in the midst of the busyness, I love picking out the perfect gifts for those I love and watching their faces light up when they receive them. I love Christmas music, I love the sight of freshly fallen snow, I just love it all! And now that I have kids of my own, I’m so excited to pass on some of my favorite traditions to them!
When my mom married my stepdad, my aunt bought them their first Christmas ornament engraved with their names. From that year on, Mom and Mike would go to the mall every year and pick out a new ornament to add to the tree. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of family heirlooms and this was one thing I wanted to keep going when I got married. My husband and I have bought an ornament every year too. We’ve added other ornaments as well, like memory ornaments for his dad and brother, an ornament from our last vacation before kids, and now ornaments for each of our boys every year. It’s my hope that we can give the boys their ornaments to decorate their own trees with when they move out on their own some day!
A Real Christmas Tree
Another of my favorite memories is going to the tree farm every year and picking out the perfect tree to take home and decorate. The tree farm we used to go to has since shut down, but I have many fond memories of it still! I remember looking around the shop they had set up in their barn and the smell of pine. I remember buying a roll of fresh summer sausage every year too.
One thing I never realized as a kid was that Mike was actually allergic to the real trees and would break out in hives every year setting it up. But yet we had a real tree every single year until we got too old to care. As an adult I appreciate the significance of him setting aside his comfort in order to give us kids those special memories. My husband and I haven’t always had a real tree, but the tree in our living room right now is real and we love it!
Growing up my mom had three Christmas cassette tapes that I remember vividly. One was a tape of silly Christmas songs like, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” another was the Statler Brothers Christmas, and my favorite was Reba Christmas. I don’t know what it is about that particular album, but I always loved it, even as a child. I had every word to every song memorized and would sing along in the car throughout the entire Christmas season. When I was able to find the same album on CD a few years back, I was SO excited! Of course I bought it! It’s something my husband and I both look forward to breaking out each year and I still belt out those songs as we drive down the highway!
As long as I can remember I’ve had this little porcelain nativity set that originally included baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and the shepherd. I guess it was something my parents bought for me as a baby. It’s seen better years, and Joseph has since been broken so now the shepherd stands in his place, but I enjoy getting it out every year and setting it out somewhere among our decorations.
This year I decided to carry on the tradition by purchasing our boys their own first nativity set. It’s just a simple little wooden set and, like mine, in 30 years from now it may be missing pieces and have seen some better years. But it will be something I hope brings a smile to their face as they pull it out each year. And maybe they’ll find a special place among their decorations to nestle their earliest memories of Christmas.
Christmas Light Tour
Every year when I was a kid, we would go visit this one particular house near us. The man that lived there would decorate his house so elaborately that it became something of a local holiday attraction for people from all the nearby towns. It was so much fun seeing all the neat things he would add and how it would change from year to year. And he and his family would hand out candy canes too! Besides seeing that house, I remember driving around town just to look at all the holiday lights with Christmas music on the radio. It is something I remember with fondness. Last year we did the same with our oldest and now that we’ve added our second son to the family, I’m excited to go see all the lights with both boys this year.
We grew up with a somewhat large family so buying gifts for everyone could get rather expensive. So instead, my mom would spend hours in the kitchen each year baking cookies from scratch to share with our family and friends. She would make nearly 100 boxes of cookies of all different kinds. It would take her a week to get them all ready and our kitchen was filled with baking ingredients and cookies that we weren’t supposed to touch (but we did anyway).
This year, I’m starting this tradition with my kiddos. I’m not going to make nearly as many as mom used to, but I have a few boxes to make and I can’t wait to have my oldest son help me in the kitchen! I owe my baking skills to my mom who taught me growing up and I can’t wait to pass on those skills to my boys (and any kids we may have in the future).
So what are you favorite family traditions for the holidays? Does your family do anything special and unique? Share some of your favorite holiday memories below in the comments!