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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creating Family Holiday Traditions

As Thanksgiving, Saint Nicholas Day, Christmas and New Year's Eve are slowly (or not so slowly) making their way towards us on the calendar, I have been thinking more and more about family traditions.  This is Aidan's first Christmas, so I honestly can't wait to get the season started!  Traditions evolve, and when you're just starting out as a "new" family, it's fun to think about each person's background, own unique traditions, and how you will incorporate them into your new family unit.

Here are some of ours:

1. Thanksgiving:  Growing up overseas, Thanksgiving was always that "American" holiday that we got to celebrate.  For me, personally, if I get to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, I'm good to go!  Dan is a stickler on "no Christmas until after Thanksgiving", so we usually start decorating for Christmas after dinner, and listening to Christmas carols.  Love, love, love!

2. Black Friday:  This day baffles me.  I love a good deal as much as the next person, but weren't we just saying how thankful we are for all the things we have???  On top of that, stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day, at 6pm.  THAT'S DINNER TIME!!!!!  THANKSGIVING DINNER TIME!!!!  Seriously?!  I am very glad to see that many retailers are ditching this trend, and not opening until midnight.  I get the midnight shopping, and online stuff, it's just the mob mentality over material things that drives me crazy.  SO, what we have started doing, is we donate our gently used clothes at our local donation center. I love this "after-thanksgiving" tradition.

3. Pre-Christmas: Our church does and annual Operation Christmas Child drive.  The Children and Youth Departments usually have a competition, with the losing department's pastor having to do something embarrassing, as incentive.  This is so much fun!  In case you're not familiar with it, you fill a shoe box with items for a child living in a third world country.  We do some toys, school items, and hygiene items.  If your church doesn't take part in this, you can very easily do it on your own.  You can even track your box!

4. Saint Nicholas Day:  On December 6th, children across Europe get chocolate in their boots.  Now, that may seem weird, or gross.  However, the night before, the kids clean off their boots, put them outside their bedroom doors, and then Saint Nicholas (ehem - mom and dad), put chocolate in their boots.  You always get a gold switch too, to remind you to be good! :)
Last year's Saint Nicholas Day
5. Pre-Christmas/Advent: Growing up, my mom made us the prettiest Advent Calendars.  She would put chocolate, small gifts (nail polish, matchbox cars, barbie outfits, legos), and sometimes money in them.  I would love to make something like this for Aidan some day!

6. Christmas Eve:  Two years ago, we started going out for breakfast on Christmas Eve, and we LOVED it!  I'm already scoping out places for this year.  
In our family, we open our Christmas presents on Christmas Eve afternoon.  My parents always made us take Christmas cookies to the neighbors, while they finished wrapping our gifts.  As an adult, I bake/make things for our friends.  So, we open our gifts, watch It's A Wonderful Life.  One NEW tradition I'd like to start, is one I found on pinterest.  Every year, on Christmas Eve, kids open a box, with Christmas pajamas, a Christmas book, and hot chocolate mix. I love this tradition so much!  I can't wait to pick out Aidan's pjs and book.  Do you have any favorite Christmas books?

7.  Christmas Day: We all stand on the steps in our pajamas, and got a family picture.  
We get to open our stockings.  Some of my favorite things were always in my stockings.  I always got a magazine (like Vogue - one of the expensive ones :)), some jewelry, and some cloudberry jam.  Amazing stuff.  
Since we've been adults, with our own family units, I've made us a family ornament every year.  The first year I made ornaments in the shape of Hungary.

One of the family traditions we've adopted from Dan's family, is that on Christmas Day, we go to the movies.  New movies open on Christmas Day a lot, and the last couple years, we've gone to see the Hobbit movies together (because we're all J. R. R. Tolkien nerds).
We've also adopted Dan's family's Christmas dinner - prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, and yummy sides.  No complaints here! :)

So, these are our family traditions.  Do you have any, that you especially love?  Some you couldn't wait to move out of the house to quit?  Some you can't wait to do?  Please share them in the comments!

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