Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year AND the most stressful. All the shopping, wrapping, shipping and baking leaves me overwhelmed and more “Grinch-like” than grateful. Which is why I’m thankful we have some family Christmas traditions that remind me to slow down and enjoy the holiday season. Here are a few of our favorite ways to celebrate Christmas each year, as a family.
Several years ago, we realized that we enjoyed watching the same Christmas movies over and over each year. Like Elf, The Santa Clause (1, 2, and 3), Home Alone, The Christmas Story, and Christmas Vacation. So we bought copies of our favorite movies and we start watching them the day after Thanksgiving. It feels like the beginning of Christmas season once we watch our first Christmas movie. This year, Sophia and I added the Hallmark Channel into our movie rotation so we never run out of options for Christmas movies!
Pictures with Santa
Way back in December 2006, I took my four-month-old baby girl to see Santa for the first time. I remember Sophia was fussy and didn’t know much about the big man in the red suit yet. So I took her to the closest place I could find, which was the Vista Ridge Mall (5 minutes from our house). At the time, I had no idea I was starting one of my favorite Christmas traditions, pictures with Santa. Now I have a framed picture of the kids with the same Santa for every year since 2006. By looking at the pictures, you can watch them grow, see their hair change, and point to the year they each got “too big” to sit on Santa’s lap. I love that they still agree to pictures with Santa each year and I wonder how long this tradition will continue.
There are two types of people in this world. Those that listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving and those who wait until after the turkey is carved before they turn on Jingle Bell Rock. I am firmly in the post-turkey group when it comes to listening to Christmas music and I thought the rest of the family agreed with me. Until I got a text from my husband about a week into November admitting he REALLY wanted to start listening to Christmas music!! I told that was fine… as long as he did it while I was NOT around.
Before the kids were born, I started the tradition of baking huge batches of cookies to share with friends and neighbors for Christmas. When I was a little girl, my grandmother would make fudge, candy and pecan pie every year and arrange them on pretty platters for Christmas Eve. I wanted my own tradition so I started baking cookies each year and once the kids were born, I had them help me bake. Chocolate chip, chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips, oatmeal with butterscotch, peanut butter blossoms, white chocolate macadamia nut and frosted sugar cookie cutouts are some of our family favorites. However, we are divided on frosting or no frosting on the sugar cookies.
When the kids were little, I loved buying them matching Christmas pajamas every year. Especially little footie pajamas! However once my daughter grew out of toddler sizes, finding matching pajamas became more difficult. Last year, my daughter (who was 10 at the time) had trouble finding pajamas in her size in the girls section of Target. So I told her we could look in the women’s section. She was so excited about all the new “grown-up” options for pajamas and we ended up with matching mom and daughter Christmas pajamas (which were also onesies).
Once we got home and showed Trey and Tallen, they decided they wanted matching Christmas pajamas too! So they headed to Target and bought their own matching pajamas, which we all wore every weekend. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently we started a new family Christmas tradition. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we were out shopping and Sophia saw the Christmas pajamas at Target again. So we all ended up with elf pajamas, which are cute but not that comfortable. However on Christmas Eve, we will all put them on before bed and go to sleep dreaming about the presents that Santa will leave us under the tree.
Living in a big city like Dallas, there is ALWAYS something new to experience each year at Christmas. So we started the tradition of trying something NEW each year during the holidays. Since the kids were born we have: visited the ICE exhibit at the Gaylord Texan, went ice skating at Christmas at the Anatole, visited the Christkindl Market in Arlington, and rode the Polar Express train in our pajamas. This year we went to brunch with Santa, although the kids refused to get near Santa or take their picture with him.
Sometimes our plans do not always work out, like the year I bought tickets to the 12 Days of Christmas at the Arboretum and my family told me that sounded boring. Or the year that we bundled up and tried to drive to Grapevine for the Christmas parade – but traffic was so bad we never made it, so we went to Starbucks for hot chocolate instead. The important part is making memories as a family and looking for new family Christmas traditions that we can continue each year.
What are your Family Christmas Traditions? Do you carry on traditions from your childhood, or do you enjoy starting new ones?