Despite being completely distracted by this whole farm-buying business, I'm trying to keep at least some focus on our Christmas traditions, especially since this is the first year we are really paring back the gifts in hopes of keeping the focus on what Christmas should really be about. Over the years, more and more traditions have come about - some inspired by favorite memories of my childhood, and others that just seem to have crept into our yearly celebration.
*Decorating Day: the day after Thanksgiving, a whole day spent listening to carols, putting up the tree, redecorating the house, and hanging lights.
*The Cookie Party: an afternoon of moms only fun, with a huge plate of delicious cookies for the family to gobble up afterward (a blog on this year's party is coming soon!)
*The Nutcracker ballet: we missed this one this year, but we always try to find a nearby, affordable production of the Nutcracker to take the girls to.
*Christmas Lights: an evening spent driving around, listening to radio Christmas tunes and hitting up all the best-decorated neighborhoods in town
*Christmas cookies: we bake 8 or 10 different varieties of cookies, then deliver them to friends and family
*Christmas card-making: a few evenings spent with all the Christmas craft supplies in the house, making cards to send to everyone we love.
*Sugar cookies: this one earns my mom the Best Mom Ever award. She used to bake tons of sugar cookies, provide every color of frosting available, and we made a huge mess decorating gingerbread men, stars, bells, trees and other shapes. I dread the mess every year, but this is a favorite for my girls, as it was for me.
*Cookies for Santa/Carrots for Rudolph. Or in this year's case, carrots for all nine reindeer, because we have an infinite supply of carrots from the garden still.
*Christmas Eve PJ's: each girl gets new jammies to wear on Christmas Eve (mostly because I want them to look cute in Christmas pictures the next morning.)
*The Pickle: If you've never heard of a Pickle ornament, check it out. We let the girls hunt for the pickle on Christmas Eve, and whoever finds it gets to open her jammies first. (The jammies are still a surprise every year. For some reason, though we've been doing it for five years or more, they always forget what the present is going to be.)
*Stuffed toys for Izzy. Each year we buy her one of those $5 stockings filled with stuffed toys for dogs. We wrap it up, she unwraps it, and then proceeds to spend the morning tearing the stuffing out of every single toy. I'm not sure how she knows that it's okay to do this on only one morning each year, but she understands and has a great time of it.
That's all I'm remembering right now, though I'm sure there are others. We also try to make at least a few different Christmas crafts, sing every Christmas song we can remember, and this year we'll add reading the birth of Jesus as well.
Do share - what traditions does your family enjoy through the holiday season?