Every family has their own set of traditions when it comes to Christmas. Some are passed down from generation to generation, some are created along the way and some are just purely habits that have developed over the years.
My family has several traditions some of each of the above. As a child, and even now, some of my favorite traditions included the following:
- Visiting my grandparents in Sandstone, MN for Christmas Eve. There is something so time transporting about a wood burning furnace during winter time. It reminds me every time of my cousins and I running around as children with crying baby dolls that were given to all us girls that year for Christmas. Or ice-skating on the pond out front. Even though things have changed and we have all grown up, it still takes me back to the memories of snuggling up in the cold as we are carried out to the car before the sun is even up to head up to the farm.
- Opening our Christmas presents late Christmas Day. This is one of those traditions that happened by accident. Most kids run to the tree Christmas morning and open all their presents immediately. Completely opposite of how we spend our Christmas day. As a child my parents hosted Christmas day with my extended family. We would open our stockings in the morning, get ready for the day and then family would arrive and stay into the afternoon. This meant that we waited to open our presents until all our family left. Even though we no longer host Christmas day at my parents we all still wait until late in the afternoon to open our gifts, purely out of habit. I have to say that I love this tradition. Not just because it’s nostalgic for me but because it is a reminder of what Christmas is really about. It’s about the celebration of Jesus’s birth and about cherishing your family time together. So instead of focusing on presents and toys all day, we spend it doing things together. Sometimes the day is spent playing games, sledding, ice-skating, whatever we want to do as a family. And best of all we now spend the day in our pajamas!!
- The angel. My parents have four children and they did an amazing job growing up of spreading special traditions out evenly. So each year we alternate putting the angel on top of the Christmas tree. Even though we are all grown up my parents still do not put the Angel on top of the tree until all the children are home for the holidays and we can be there together to put the finishing touch on the tree. As adults we no longer envy the child that gets to put the Angel up, instead we sit back and watch my niece and nephew get excited to be the one to be hoisted up by “Grandpa” to reach the tip of the tree but it’s still a fun tradition that I cherish.
These are only a few of my favorite traditions. I’m sure there are many more that I don’t even realize have no become traditions. But the reason I titled this Christmas 2.0 is that I now have my own family. Even though right now it’s just my husband and I, each year we are starting to develop our own traditions that one day we will pass on to our future children. I wanted to share some of the few traditions that as newlyweds we have already developed.
- Yearly ornament. Each year my husband and I go to Macy’s and select an ornament for that year. It started the first year we were together and has now become an annual tradition. It is a slightly challenging tasks since my pre-wedded self had developed several years of my own tradition of having only red, white and gold Christmas ornaments. My husband has even expanded on this tradition and decided that he will also collect a new nutcracker each year, which is somewhat comical since he is allergic to nuts.
- Midnight service. This one was started by my husband. A not so Christmassy man, but one that loves his wife very much. As I discussed early in the post every year we go up north for Christmas Eve. One of the usual events is Christmas Eve service at my grandparent’s church. A couple years ago no one was up for the going to service which was disappointing. To me it’s an important part of Christmas. When we got home that night my husband could tell I was a little sad to have missed on the experience this year. I went upstairs to read a book and get ready for bed. About half an hour later my husband came up and told me we were going to midnight service at the church down the road. ( keep in mind my husband isn’t a huge fan of church or Christmas) He saw how excited I got of the idea and it has been a Christmas tradition for the two of us since.
- Gleason family Christmas. With marriage come in-laws! And I was lucky enough to hit the jackpot with mine. They are the kindest, funniest bunch of people. They celebrate Christmas in a completely different way them my family and I love them for it. Each year they have a Mexican Christmas, which really just means that they serve Mexican food instead of the traditional Christmas meal which by the end of the Christmas season you have had a dozen of. They also do a gift exchange. But it’s not your ordinary gift exchange. It’s sort of like a white elephant gift exchange with funny gifts. Gifts you don’t need but would love to have. Like a wine purse, a pint of whiskey, or a hand painted wine glass. Yes many of the gifts do include alcohol since most of the grand kids are in their 20’s. It’s a night filled with laughter, good food, and good company.
Even though we only have a few traditions, I can’t wait to develop more. As our families grown I’m excited to see what Christmas changes will come and what traditions will be made.