Hi there! Today I hope you'll link up with me and share how you and yours make memories during the holiday season!
Growing up, my family was big on tradition. Our Christmases went a little something like this:
Dress up in the itchy crinoline and tulle Christmas dress picked out by Mom. Attend an early Christmas Eve Mass with immediately family. Gather together with extended family at my Grandma's house for Christmas Eve family dinner. Watch the dreaded Yule Log or A Christmas Story on TV for what seemed like hours on end. Play a board game or two. Fall asleep in Nanny's bed with your two cousins because you couldn't possibly stay awake until after midnight to open your presents, a longstanding tradition in our family. Wake up after midnight to open presents and eat cookies.
Load everyone up in the car and head home. Leave cookies and milk for Santa, carrots for the reindeer, on a personalized plate near the fireplace. Sleep. Or at least pretend to. Wake up bright and early and patiently wait for Dad to set up the tripod in the living room to video everyone opening their gifts.
Check the fireplace for cookie crumbs and carrot stumps. Patiently wait for everyone to meander downstairs to open presents. Commandeer the present opening and whine because you notice your brother has more wrapped presents beneath the tree than you do. Remember this is due in part to the fact that you ask for expensive things for Christmas and your brother asks for legos. Spend hours opening presents while Christmas music plays in the background... Followed by a huge and deliciously yummy breakfast.
And so on and so on. Year after year. I grew up loving these traditions. Especially the stay-in-your-jammies-all-day-and-play rule. The no "hustle and bustle of a scheduled Christmas Day"-ness. I knew this was something I would want to incorporate once I had a family of my own.
Do you know how hard it is to blend family Christmas traditions once married and with a kid? It's ridiculously hard. And I'm stubborn. And I insist on getting my way. After years of splitting the holidays, newlywed readers, I'm sure you know all about how much fun this is, I couldn't wait for the day when Husband I were settled with a family of our own and could begin creating Christmas traditions of our own.
After all, isn't the general rule, "you travel where the little kids are," these days? It is in my book.
I thought I'd take a minute today to share with you all just a few of the family traditions we've continued to carry on with the little family of our own and some news one that we're excited to incorporate over the coming years.
1. The Annual Family Christmas Photo Card: This is an absolute must in our family. Growing up, a year wouldn't go by that my parents wouldn't send out an annual family Christmas picture. Most years it was of just me, my brother and the dog. Other years? We managed to sneak the elusive family photo on there. After all, isn't this why you have children and dogs? So that you can spend hours trying to capture The Perfect Family Photo for the Annual M Family Christmas Card? Here's a peek at our card this year. Many thanks to Minted for the amazing quality and customer service!
2. Matching Brand New Jammies Opened on Christmas Eve: Growing up, my brother and I always got brand new Jammies explicitly for Christmas. Thankfully, they were never matchy-matchy but I know I always looked forward to that new pair of pajamas. It meant we were one step closer to Santa's visit and present-city! Don't fret, Loyals, there will be brand new jammies to be had by all the M family this year. Although, they won't be so matchy-matchy (thank you, Husband) they will be coordinating.
3. Cookies and Milk for Santa, Carrots for the Reindeer: This little tradition goes without saying, does it not? Here's a picture of the plate I recently ordered from The Stationary Studio. Clearly it had to be personalized and I can't wait to set it out with year's treats for Santa!
4. M Family Annual Cookie Swap: This little tradition was actually started by my MIL last year. Each of her sons and their significant others is responsible for whipping up four dozen of their favorite holiday cookies to be swapped with each other at our annual "M Family Christmas" dinner. Last year, I painstaking made four dozen ridiculously festive cake pops. This year, because we're hosting the actual dinner itself, I'm not feeling nearly as ambitious and have grand plans to make these delicious-looking desserts. Thank you, Pinterest.
5. Pre-Christmas frolicking and driving through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights: This tradition is to be completed while wearing jammies and drinking appropriately adult-spiked hot cocoa, if not pregnant at the time. Shucks. Growing up, we used to pile in the family mini-van and drive a ways to a friendly over-the-top neighborhood that used to go all out each year for Christmas. There was no charge or fee involved, just a neighborhood full of awesome people who set out each year to one-up their neighbor in an exterior illumination attempt to be The Next Clark Griswold. For us? Our tiny little slice of suburbia will do as we plan to bundle up and cruise through the local 'hood checking out everyone's decorations.
6. Elf on The Shelf: I will admit, I was slightly disappointed this year when I realized that C is still too young to grasp the awesomeness that is the Elf on the Shelf. He may even be too young next year to appreciate the idea behind it but I don't think I will be able to keep myself from welcoming him into our family. Just cruise through Pinterest or this awesome Mama's blog and you'll find some incredible ideas and activities to stage your Elf with each night! I just can't wait until this becomes a tradition in our home!
7. The Advent Calendar: Growing up, the typical Advent Calendar in our home was the "enjoy a piece of chocolate each day" as you counted down to Christmas and celebrated the days in Advent leading up to Christ's birth. Don't get me wrong, I was a MAJOR fan of this kind of calendar, but I look forward to starting a slightly different tradition in our family. Many thanks to Pinterest, there are so many incredible ideas out there and I'm hoping to incorporate a handmade calendar in our family's future that encourages providing one act of service to a stranger, family, friend or loved one each day leading up to Christmas.
8. The Stay-in-your-jammies-and-play-all-day Christmas: This last tradition is big in my book. Huge, actually. I know I touched upon it briefly earlier, but it means the world to me to not feel so "rushed" on Christmas day, like we have some sort of agenda to stick to. Now is probably a great time to mention that now that we have Carter (and another baby on the way!), my parents and brother travel down to Maryland every year to spend the Christmas holiday with us. They know and appreciate how important it is to me to have Carter wake up in his own bed, in his own home Christmas morning. I want our Christmas day to be lazy, full of family and great food and presents and fun. I want to be able to reflect and look back each year and think about all the time we spent together that day, in our house, making memories for years to come! Call me crazy, but I just can't shake this idea!
This year, our Christmas Day will begin with lot's of presents, lot's of Christmas music, lot's of family and one of the biggest and most delicious breakfasts I've ever made. I am so looking forward to Christmas this year and as a Mom to a toddler, I cannot wait to watch Carter light up as the day unfolds. It's just amazing to be able to sit back and watch Christmas through your child's eyes.
So, Loyals.. what are some of YOUR family traditions? What are some memories you look forward to making every year? Be sure to get those posts together and link them up below! You can grab the button by clicking on it and saving it to your computer then uploading it into a blog post!
Thanks so much for sharing and I cannot wait to read through each of your holiday traditions!