It's no secret that I love Christmas. Not just love, but LOVE Christmas. I love it more than any other holiday. I think this because Christmas has a lot of traditions attached to it and (at least in my family) the other holidays don't really have things that we do EVERY SINGLE YEAR.
There are some traditions that started when I was a child and I have loved them so much that I will continue them with my kids. Other traditions are things that I have always wanted to do and so am doing them with my kids. And lastly there are ones that I am choosing to do for practical reasons of making my life easier. Below are some of my favourite traditions. I love to hear how you celebrate, so please share yours in the comments.
Every year, typically around the beginning of December we would invite another family over for dinner and then afterwards make Christmas chocolates. It's pretty simple. Melt chocolate, pour in molds. Chill. We had fondant, caramel and other things to dip the chocolates in or mix into the chocolates should your heart so desire. I loved this one because it was a good opportunity to get to know another family better and spend time together as a family. And there's chocolate involved. Need I say more?
I always associate a lot of food and a lot of baking with Christmas. I start early. Usually the end of October and will spend a week or two filling the freezer with all kinds of sweet treats. There is always: Whipped Shortbread, Sugar cookies, peanut butter marshmallow squares, fudge, nanaimo bars, brownies, jewel bars (Mark's favourite) and then I take requests.
On Christmas Eve, after we attend the Christmas Eve service, we always come home, eat goodies and drink egg nog. I love the nog! Though it can get to be a bit much, so I won't keep too much of it around prior. This one is hit and miss right now as we go back and forth between the families so depending on who is hosting means that we will do their Christmas eve tradition. I wouldn't mind adding to it that we play board games or something.
The Christmas Dress. I don't remember if we had one every year. I'm pretty sure we did, but I always loved getting a new dress at Christmas that I then either wore the next Sunday or to the Christmas eve service. That part is foggy. In our family, the girls will wear their dresses to our Christmas eve service.
The progression of a Christmas Dress:
I mentioned in a previous post about my tradition of when to decorate. This started one year with my sister and it was so much fun that I have since continued it. Basically what happened was we went to IKEA in October. We had recently moved in together while attending college. We thought our cute little basement suite needed a cute little Christmas tree and while we were shopping that day we found THE cutest tree. We bought it and were so excited to bring it home and decorate it. However, it was October and we thought people might think we were a little crazy to decorate for Christmas in October. Even November 1st might seem early to some people, but how could a person argue it if there was snow on the ground? So, we decided that the first snow fall in November would mark the start of our decorating. Then we got worried. What if it didn't snow in November? So December 1st was the default just in case. We got lucky. It snowed November 1st that year. Since that year (about 8 years ago) the latest I decorated was last year and I think it was the last week of November. Usually it's the first week! I have so much fun with the anticipation of this tradition. I always put on the Christmas music while decorating. And there is no better feeling than snow falling and decorating for Christmas.
A fun little tradition that started one year when Mark and I were driving around looking at lights. We rate them. From 0-10. Points are awarded/demerited for light straightness, pattern of coloured lights consistency (and points are taken away if the coloured lights are weathered looking from being neglected and left up all year). We like use of creativity. We hate blow ups. We hate when icicle lights are used places icicles can't possibly form (I saw someone put them sticking straight up from their fence). We take away points when you use those pre-made squares of lights (good idea) and don't cover the whole tree, just a patch. We like when people put them nicely on those really tall trees and use a ladder, not just throw the strand up there. We take away points for stringing the extra lights to the plug or not going all the way around the window. Really, we're picky. Actually, I'm picky. Mark gives pity points for trying. I will give a house with one strand of lights that's straight a perfect 10 because I believe its better to do it right (even in a small way) than to do a poor job. If your drive by my house, you will notice I have no lights hung. Ever. I couldn't meet my own standards and it would bug me. But it sure is fun to play judge!
This year I'm going to start an advent calendar. I'm making one that little treats can go inside. I may switch it up each year depending on the age of my kids and their interests and do things like put slips of paper with activities to do together, books to read, movies to watch etc. I haven't decided for all of eternity yet. :)
I always wanted the tradition of opening gifts on Christmas eve as a kid. But as an adult, I don't want that to happen. I like the anticipation of waking up on Christmas morning to open gifts. So we have one gift for our girls for Christmas Eve and it will always been the same. Christmas Pyjamas, because then in the pictures, they will never look ratty.
I also have started giving my girls an ornament in their stocking each year. Mady's are the theme of Angels and music and Kates are snowmen/flakes and I may throw in Jingle bells. We'll see. I do this so that it's easier to fill the stockings (and it helps them have decorations when they move out). If I have certain things that are always in the stocking then I'm not running around trying to find stupid trinkets to fill it each year. This means less stress for me!
We are a very musical family. Mark has played (violin) in the orchestra at church. I have either sung in the choir at church, school or like this year in a community choir pretty much every year, so Christmas is filled with putting on concerts (this year between us we will have 2 weekends of concerts, 7 in total). We love it!
What's Christmas without music and movies? Last year I watched White Christmas and Holiday Inn for the first time ever. I have added them both to the "watch every year" list. I don't know that I have other ones that I HAVE to watch every year, but I do like to flip through the guide and find Christmas movies to watch on a night when I have nothing to do.
Christmas music starts playing in my house in the summer (usually one week) and then I take a break until September and then it starts up again (usually that's practice music for the christmas concerts). Once (Canadian) thanksgiving passes, my iTunes gets turned into Christmas music central and it plays all day.