Did you grow up with Christmas family traditions?
I know I grew up with Christmas traditions like attending Catholic Mass on Christmas Eve, Christmas Decors and Christmas Music as early as September (yes!), Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner), and Christmas presents. Off/on we would host Christmas parties for families and friends. But, if you ask me what my most beloved Christmas FAMILY tradition is – I would have nothing to tell you. We weren’t that kind of family.
Before kids, Danny and I would eat a hearty meal at home, drive-thru for some desserts, and then watch a movie. It was a day of simple joys and just being lazy. After Aiden was born, we went to my in-law’s and celebrated Christmas eve there. We’ll have good food, exchange of gifts, watched movies, and just chatted the night away.
When Aiden was 3, we moved to Colorado Springs. Away from family, barely started a new job, just the three of us. I remember that year, we were broke. We didn’t even have Christmas decorations. We also didn’t have money to buy presents. We were okay though. We had a roof over our head, food to eat, and we had each other. But truth be told, it really broke my heart to be too broke to get my son a present for Christmas. So, as soon as I got paid by New Year’s time – I went crazy buying Aiden presents. I shouldn’t have, that wasn’t financially wise. But, what can I say? I was overcompensating.
With memories and guilt of the past, I decided to make a change. I want us to be that kind of a family. Nothing spectacular but yes, the kind of family that I didn’t have. I want Christmases to be happy lifelong memories. I want them to remember Christmas for the same simple joys Hubby and I have enjoyed through these years. The joy of being together – the joy of the gift of family. But, I also want them to remember at least one fun Christmas tradition so hopefully they can carry it as they grow older.
Christmas Family Tradition # 1 – 2 years ago, I started hanging Christmas stockings. But it wasn’t until last year that I actually diligently put sweet surprises every day for 10 days preceding Christmas.
Christmas Family Tradition # 2 – Because of Aiden’s relentless pursuit to open any presents as soon as he sees them, the presents stay hidden. I wrap them on the night of the 23rd and put them under the tree very early on the 24th. By early evening of the 24th, we let the kids open their Christmas gifts. Oh… the smile on their faces! Their giggles and laughter! Priceless.
This year, Aiden has taken more notice on the Christmas stocking tradition. He actually checks it now every morning. He’ll even try to check his brother’s stocking! But not to worry, he puts the sweet surprises back because we catch him every time. I think he’s trying to start his own Christmas tradition. But I keep a back-up supply just in case!
Also, Oliver asked me one day why Dad and I never have anything on our stockings. I told him that it’s alright but that maybe one day when him and Aiden are grown, they can put something in there for us. Well, I have a very intuitive and thoughtful 6 year old. Since that conversation, he’d excitedly prompt me to check my stocking. He’d place love notes or his favorite Yogi-Oh card or re-gift a toy I put on his stocking and tell me, he’d much rather I have it because he loves me so much. He does the same for his Dad. Such a sweet child!
It’s the love… the overflowing love and gratitude that we have for each other that makes Christmas Traditions sweeter, more fun, and shall become lifelong memories we will hold in our hearts. And my kids, with God’s grace – will grow up learning and living by these traditions of simplicity, joy, and love of family.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!