My sweet friend, Kelley, has a little boy Caleb (who is beyond cute).
This is his first year he will know what's going on during Christmas, so she is interested in starting new traditions with her family.
Traditions are SO important to family life. They create unity in a family, and as my kids grow up, I want them to long for home during the holidays because of the memories that were created during their childhood.
While I definitely want my kids to grow up into responsible and "cut the apron strings" at the appropriate time, I want my kids to love coming home....and traditions are a great way to help that happen.
Leading up to Christmas......
- I buy chocolate Advent calendars for each of my kids. They get a piece per day. This is very effortless, but they love it.
- I do the Elf on a Shelf (though I started doing it when the Happy Home Fairy shared about it at a mom's group, before it got popular...so my elf is not the elf they sell....not that it matters). I do NOT do a Pinterest-worthy version of this....nor do I tell my kids the elf comes alive (they get easily freaked out, LOL). The elf just moves each night into a new place in the house.
- I buy each of my kids an ornament each year (one with their picture and the year on it....I get cheap ones from Target). I will give my kids their ornaments for a wedding gift. Brett's mom did this (just regular ornaments, not picture ones)....and it was really nice to have ornaments to decorate our first tree with. Plus, each year as we decorate the tree, my kids LOVE to see their pictures from the years.
- Our tree topper is a crown....to represent Jesus is our King.
- We talk about the real meaning of Christmas, throughout the month
- We drive around to look at Christmas lights.
- Per the Happy Home Fairy's suggestion, we give our neighbor with the best Christmas lights an award certificate.....and a thank you note.
The man who we gave it to last year actually teared up, telling us how much he enjoys blessing kids with great lights. He was so, so grateful that his efforts were noticed. It was a very sweet moment for me.
- We stay home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, for several reasons.
I want my kids to wake up in their own home on the most fun day of the year!
Also, I am at my best when I am home. I don't sleep well when I travel, so I did not want my kids' memories of me on Christmas being a grouchy, tired mom.
Santa is a lot easier to pull off from home.
Anyone is our family is welcome to come to our house, but we stay home!
- On Christmas Eve, we always go to the beach. It serves a dual purpose: tires my kids out so they can sleep easier that night and to take advantage of living in an awesome place.
- I give my kids a new pair of pajamas from the "jammie elf" on Christmas Eve. He drops them off while they're in the shower (after the beach).
- We eat Chinese food for Christmas Eve dinner.
- We watch a movie and drink hot chocolate. Historically, we've watched The Polar Express, but they have asked to watch Elf this year.
- Santa visits
- Open gifts, obviously.
- Eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast and play with toys all morning
- Bake a birthday cake for Jesus. We sing Happy Birthday to Jesus (cheesy, yes, but it helps our kids remember why we celebrate Christmas)
- I make a huge meal
In a nutshell, this is the Williams Christmas.
I find it very important to keep holiday stress as non-existent as possible.
Knowing our traditions helps because I don't feel guilty for what I don't do.
I stopped sending Christmas cards a couple of years ago (four kids' Christmas is expensive, so I had to cut where I could). For a season of life, sending cards was great and fun for me....but then it just wasn't. I've learned to ebb and flow throughout seasons of life and ages of kids.
Christmas is the most magical time of the year, so whatever you choose to do for your family.....in my opinion, it should be life giving, not done out of obligation or with a bad attitude. Fun stuff with a bad attitude is not fun. Whatever you choose to do (or not do), the most important thing is to be joyful and kind, in the midst.
Writing about Christmas has me SO excited!!!!!