There are lots of choices for great activities this time of year. But there are those few that really signal “holiday” to your family. We have tried out many different events and experiences besides the usual decorating the tree and baking cookies: Going to see the Nutcracker ballet and Handel’s Messiah, ding dong cookie ditching, reading a Christmas story every day, making ornaments and gifts with friends, candy making night, making our own gift tags, breakfast with Santa, visiting a live nativity. . . you get the idea. So which of the many activities of the season are worth repeating each year? I think that you know you have a tradition on your hands when you’ve done it only once or twice and your kids say, “Are we going to do ____ like we do every year?” Sometimes this surprises me. Sometimes it was so much fun, I am pretty sure they will never forget.
You know you have created a tradition when you try to change it and you have a family mutiny. Last year I suggested that maybe we should not put a train under the tree, since it takes up so much space. I backtracked at the first accusation of blasphemy and high treason! This year, without a word, my tween and teen dolls created a terrific train configuration
around the tree, complete with an artificial pond which has Buckingham Palace on one side and the White House on the other. Clever girls.
On the first day of December, my Sunshine doll starts asking a question that she knows she will not get an answer to: When are you going to pull us out of bed to go out to look at Christmas lights and have milkshakes (we are Floridians, so it is usually too hot for cocoa)? This has become a fun game – and a great way to get kids to bed on time AND limit sweets, because, you never know, tonight may be the night! And people, leave your lights on! We have traversed several times only to discover lights out by 10 p.m. What fun is that?
The next thing we cannot seem to do without is making gingerbread houses. They get more elaborate each year. My husband actually carries this tradition. This year – the White House!
You can read about our advent traditions here. There are more that would cause a revolt if missed: certain Christmas movies (try The Nativity Story), acting out the Christmas story on Christmas morning, peeking in stockings before breakfast, opening one gift on Christmas Eve, opening only one gift at a time Christmas morning (the gift giver has to pass out her gifts).
Traditions lose their sparkle and appeal when they are too often and too numerous, so don’t overdo it! Try a few in those days after Christmas, while you are still on vacation, like letting the kids pick out an ornament for next year’s tree, from the clearance aisle!
What are your family’s favorite traditions?
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