One of my most poignant memories is of standing around the kitchen counter where all our Christmas ornaments were spread out. Mom made Sister and I divide our ornaments and choose with ornaments we would take to Dad's house and which ornaments would go to Mom's house following the divorce. The process of dividing ornaments really made things hit home. Thereafter, there were adjustments as Dad began doing holidays "his way" and Mom a different way.
I love Christmas and am determined that my children experience the true meaning of the holidays. Watching my daughter's face light up helps nurture my own inner child.
Over the weekend we put up our tree. I laid out all the special ornaments out and we took turns hanging ours on the tree while telling the story behind the ornament. It started with my "first Christmas" ornament. Then the "newly married" ones belonging to my husband and I, as well as the ornaments we purchased on our honeymoon. Every vacation has a representative ornament. Each year we help our daughter pick out an ornament. There is the "Baby's First Christmas" of course. Then a teddy bear, followed by Dora the Explorer, Tinkerbell, and this year - Princesses. We added Baby's first ornament to the tree this year too.
Yesterday I started some Christmas shopping and an idea took place. When my daughter came home last night, I took her into her room. Her expression was wonderful. I had put up a 3 foot tree with lights in her room. There were ornaments and bows for her to put up. I told my Daughter that an elf had approached me in the store parking lot and said that Santa wanted Daughter to have this early gift. She was super excited and talked about it all night long.
After that we opened the next Advent box. Ours has a Little Pet shop theme which is a huge hit. We built a fire in our fireplace and roasted marshmallows to make s'mores, while watching the twinkling tree lights. Baby was mesmerized by the tree and fire.
Then Daughter and I exercised our creative talents by making and decorating a gingerbread house. Here's the end result.
I don't think it's bad for our first attempt. Our other baking will involve making a birthday cake for Jesus. We light candles, sing Happy Birthday and eat.
Each night we read from "What God wants for Christmas" and open that night's box. This tells the Christmas story in child-like language. Each box features a manger scene character that you display. The story asks each night "what does God want for Christmas" and on the last night you open a box to see a mirror. God wants You for Christmas. Even though my daughter knows what the last box reveals, she loves doing this each year.
On Christmas Eve we will travel to my in-laws for a family gathering. Daughter and Baby will be presented with Christmas pajamas. This will make for good pictures on Christmas morning. We come back late Christmas Eve so the kids can wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning. Before bed, we gather around the tree and my husband reads the Christmas story. Then we lay out milk and cookies for Santa.
In the morning, the kids and I will stay in bed, while Daddy turns on the tree lights. After opening stockings, we have breakfast, then take turns opening presents one at a time. I'm sure Daughter will be more than willing to help Baby open his gifts.
This year we added the gingerbread house which was such a hit that I'm sure we'll continue it. My daughter has also requested that when Grammy and Pop-pop visit this weekend, we gather around the tree and sing Christmas carols like on Charlie Brown. Not sure how that request will go over with the men-folk, but we'll see.
Late on Christmas day is sometimes bitter-sweet. As the excitement fades, I try to focus on the good memories created and leave the bad in my past. I love seeing the joy these events create in my daughter and look forward to introducing Baby to the events as well.
What are your holiday traditions?