I love that we have the power, as parents, to bring special, meaningful, and joyful traditions into our homes and family.
However, the same can be said for negative traditions, which is why it's important to make a point to create positive experiences. For instance, if your family has a habit of fighting every Thanksgiving dinner or being glued to the television all day on Christmas day, or forgetting to include your kids in holiday activities, those are the memorable traditions you are creating, whether you mean to or not. Time to focus on the positive!
Last month my eldest son was having a rough week at school/life/in general so he stayed home one day to rest and recuperate. I decided we needed some restaurant therapy so I took him out to breakfast at IHOP and let him order whatever he wanted. Eating at IHOP is one of his favorite things to do because.... what 11 year old boy doesn't love sugar and carbs and greasified meats?? I sat there and watched him devour a huge plate of pancakes, french toast, eggs, bacon, and sausage, washed down by a steaming hot chocolate covered in whipped cream. He had a huge smile on his face the entire time, that growing tween of mine.
While we were there we came up with a list of our favorite Christmas traditions. It was interesting to see which ones stuck out in his mind as memorable.
Here's what we came up with:
1. Cutting down our Christmas Tree from Cedar Mountain. Each year we get a permit from the forest department for $10 and drive up the mountain to get our tree.
2. Decorating our Christmas Tree while listening to Christmas music. The kids love getting out all the ornaments and hanging them on the tree. Our ornaments have memories attached to them, either from places we've been or a gift from a loved one, or from the years we made our own. Each ornament tells a story, which our kids love to hear as we decorate.
3. Playing the Stokes Family Christmas card game. This is a tradition that goes back to my dad's side of the family. I used to play it as a little girl at my Grandma Lois's house during the holidays. It is such a fun (yet highly competitive) look-and-find game and all you need to do is save all your Christmas cards to play it. I'll have to explain the rules more in another post!
4. Reading favorite Christmas stories such as Mortimer the Christmas Mouse and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury.
5. Attending our ward Christmas party at the church.
6. Doing fun and festive activities here in Cedar City such as Christmas at the Homestead Museum. (Odin learned how to dip candles this year and the two younger boys sat on Santa's lap just for free Candy Canes.) Also, there's a neighborhood here in town that sets up The Christmas Story poem at each of their houses. We like to drive through the neighborhood and see all the lights and decorations as we read the story they've displayed on large poster boards.
7. Watching favorite Christmas shows like A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch (original), Pee-wee Herman's Christmas Special and Merry Christmas Mr. Bean.
8. Decorating Graham Cracker Gingerbread houses while also eating all the candy!
9. Eating a Christmas Eve feast! This year we're doing ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet yams, rolls, croissants, grapes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, chocolate pudding pie, apple pie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream! We're also making Fogle Punch, which is a drink we have at Micah's parent's house for Thanksgiving each year. And lastly, eggnog.
10. Lighting candles and reading the story of Christ's birth in the New Testament on Christmas Eve.
11. Kids sleep in the living room on Christmas Eve and wait for "Santa." (They all know it's us, and we love to play along.)
12. Making homemade cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk for Christmas morning breakfast.
13. Opening stockings, exchanging gifts, and enjoying that beautiful, magical, Christmasy feeling!
|I would like a Hatchamal for Christmas, says J|
|I would like a tool set for Christmas, says Mally|
Traditions are so fun! I love how most of these just happened naturally as our kids grew older, yet I also love what Micah and I have worked hard to create in our family to celebrate these wonderful holidays and most importnatly the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ.