Even though my children are well into their twenties, we still hold and cherish family Christmas traditions that were started both long ago, as well as new traditions we start each year. Family traditions, at Christmas and throughout the year, are important to children of any age. And remember, traditions must start somewhere, so begin some new ones of your own, this year.
The definition of tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. Christmas traditions can start at any time. It is never too late.
Christmas is a favorite time for my family. The fun begins with my daughter’s birthday, a few days before Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until New Year’s Day.
Start some new Christmas traditions this year that your family will continue from generation to generation.
Every year, on Thanksgiving evening, when all the bellies are full, we all sit around and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This movie gets everyone in the mood for family fun. We can all quote the movie and we all (annoyingly) do. When my kids were little, my husband and I knew the exact moments to cough loudly or send them to the other room on a wild goose chase, due to language. This movie cracks me up year after year! Never fails. We watch it again on Christmas Eve, right before we go to bed. One last time for the season. Start a new Christmas tradition of watching a Christmas movie every Thanksgiving night.
Giving is better than receiving
When my oldest daughter started driving, my three kids got more involved with the stocking process. I still fill my twenty-something’s stockings to this day. I love shopping for the little items I know they will love. Once they could shop at a store alone, they started a Christmas tradition of their own. They began participating by buying and stuffing my husband’s stocking and mine, as well. The three of them make a Target run together and shop for us. They have so much fun buying silly things, useful items and special stuffers for my husband and me. When they first started this tradition, we gave them money to buy all the stuffings but they gradually started purchasing the items themselves. This is a great way to get your older children involved and teach them about giving.
Something warm and cozy
We have a Christmas tradition of opening one present the night before Christmas. I always follow one rule when I am shopping for these gifts for my children—the gift must keep them warm. I have bought many items over the years that define cozy, comfy and warm. Items like blankets, pajamas, robes, house shoes, sweaters, scarves, ski accessories (if we had a ski vacation planned!) and gloves. They always have fun unwrapping and wearing (if possible) the gift that evening. And before they unwrap, they always have fun trying to guess what type of warm present they will be receiving.
To and From
When my kids were little, I started a tradition of buying each child their own wrapping paper. This is so fun for them as they guess which paper is their own. And, there is no longer a need for name tags! It is easy for them to count their presents (as they still delight in this). This also makes it easier on Christmas morning; I can see whose present is whose. I also try to match the paper to the child’s personality. My girls have had wrapping paper with horses, cats, and dogs. One year, my oldest daughter had *NSYNC paper. My son has had soldiers, all sorts of sports and bears (for Baylor) on his wrapping paper. This is a Christmas tradition I still love for our family and I will carry it on even when my children are married.
One at a time
In my family, we open one gift at a time. Every year, we take turns picking who starts the fun. One year it might be the oldest, one year the youngest. Each child opens one gift and then we move to the next child. We continue this until all the presents are opened under the tree. It’s very civilized. This also prolongs the excitement and Christmas morning. I especially love this Christmas tradition because I took time to buy all the gifts (I mean Santa) and I want to see their faces explode with happiness when they open.
Make something together
Making something, with your kids, is always fun. Especially at the holidays. Cookies, gingerbread houses, Christmas ornaments—just get those hands dirty—together!
Don’t forget to take pictures! Pick a spot; take pictures there every year. The tree is an obvious place. Take pictures throughout the month. Take pictures with grandparents, friends and other family members. When the season is over, use a service like Print Studio, Chatbooks or even a big box store, to print your pictures in a book. Year after year, your children will have Christmas books to look at that are pictures of them. This is fun to see how much your children have changed and grown. The memories will stay alive.
Make time-Make memories
This is a hard one for busy families but I think it is an important one, no matter how busy the family. Make time every week. Plan something every week, together. Plan a Christmas activity, once a week, during the Christmas season. This Christmas tradition could be as simple as piling in the car to go look at Christmas lights. Go see a Christmas movie. Go shopping as a family. Visit your town’s Christmas tree or visit a Christmas festival. And don’t for get a charity–purchase toys and take them to the charity’s drop-off. The point here is to make memories. Keep making the memories. Your children will remember these activities so much more than what toy Santa brought them the year before.
“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.” -Margaret Thatcher
Take it from someone on the other side, I have raised my children. It speeds by faster than reindeer can fly. Try to enjoy every moment. Even the stressful ones. Family is the most important thing but it won’t always be pretty. Take the pictures anyway. Family is stressful. Christmas is stressful. If you remember this and make memories, not picture-perfect moments, your holiday will be merrier.
Also, remember, Christmas traditions must have a beginning. Start new traditions this year with your children. It makes Christmas more fun for the entire family. And, it gives kids something to look forward to year after year. As well as, traditions allow children to participate in the holidays not just concentrate on receiving gifts.
Start new traditions with your family this Christmas. And continue your own traditions. If you don’t have traditions already, borrow some of mine!