Yesterday I shared 10 family traditions we did as a family growing up. Now that I have my own children, we have a few traditions of our own. Wanna know the funny thing about kids and traditions? You do something they like once, and one of them will say, "Is this our new family tradition?" Kids really hold fast to family traditions. I am not kidding when I say that traditions help build unity.
That being said, after yesterday's post, a friend said, "Yeah, our family had one tradition in particular whenever we got together. Grandma would get drunk and cuss out Uncle Bob, because he was a loser, and he'd storm off to the shed to have a smoke. Then Aunt Shirley would get mad at Grandma and start yelling at her to leave Uncle Bob alone. Yep... traditions." hahaha!
Ok, now on to my traditions
1- The Annual Newsletter & Photo. I know, I know. You're all thinking of the dreaded "brag" letter you sometimes get from the "we-think-we're-better-than-you" family. I promise, this isn't it. I grew up in Indiana, went to school in Hawaii, and now live in Utah. Many of our friends and family are so spread out, and we consider ourselves "close" even though we might only see each other once a year. The annual letter is a way to catch everyone up and to show how much the kids have grown up (or me, grown out!). But I always try to make it interesting. I try to keep it to a 1-page minimum, and I try to do something different every year. Each family member gets their own paragraph. This year, I did a "Movie Review" and showcased the "top movie picks of the year" (made up titles about each family member) complete with a movie description (what they've been up to) and a movie poster. It was fun!
2- Color-Scheme Tree Theme. I admit, after growing up with a tiny tree, I never wanted a small tree. Also, after my first year with my own Charlie Brown tree and hand-me-down ornaments someone gave us, I decided to start collecting ornaments for the next year when they went on sale. It just so happened, that I bought lots of red and gold. So, the next year my tree was red and gold. Then, again after Christmas that next year, there were a lot of white ornaments on sale. And hence it began. Now every Christmas, I go with a color scheme for my tree. I usually know a year ahead of time the colors I want for the next year. Then I look for the 75% off deals right after the holidays. Sometimes, it might take me a few years to obtain enough for a certain color scheme. I also mix and match what I have on hand.
3- The Nativity. Like we did growing up, I read or we watch the Nativity Story every year the Sunday before Christmas.
4- Christmas Movies. On Christmas Eve, we usually snuggle up with blankets and watch a few of our favorite Christmas movies together. We have built up a collection, but our favorite two seem to be "Christmas Story" and "Mixed Nuts".
5- Sibling Santas. We started this about six years ago. I was married at the time and we had two incomes, and weren't really hurting for money. It seemed our kids were getting more and more things at Christmas, and the price tag of each item seemed to get a little bigger than the year before. When I asked for the kids to give me their Christmas Wish List, I found that I had greedy children! Also, they had seemed to be fighting more and more. I decided then, that they needed to do more for each other, and get rid of their "Me" thinking. Since I only have 3 kids, no sense in drawing names. I made them each earn $20, and they were to spend $10 on each sibling for Christmas. They enjoyed trying to find that special gift for each other. Some years, the gifts haven't been as big, but I am still thankful that they try to put thought into the gifts they give each other.
6- Chrismas PJs & Socks. When they were really little, I started the tradition of letting the kids open a gift on Christmas Eve. These were "specially marked packages" and they contained a brand new pair of PJs and a new pair of socks. Mostly, I wanted then to look clean and crisp for pictures while opening their gifts the next morning. They still look forward to their new PJs.
7- A New Ornament. I worked in a Hallmark store growing up and never really understood the purpose of a limited edition ornament. I thought it was weird. That being said, remember the Charlie Brown tree I told you about? That is when I decided that I wanted to make sure my kids had their own ornaments for their first tree. Of course I save the ones they make in school, but they also get to open a new ornament every year on Christmas eve. Then they find a special place on the tree for their ornament to go. They might have their own Charlie Brown tree their very first adult Christmas, but at least the ornaments might mean something to them. :)
8- Stockings. My kids have stockings, and in addition to candy and little trinkets, I always include a mini box of cereal and a juice pouch. This way, they can eat breakfast when they are ready, and I don't have to worry about cooking. We can sleep in, open gifts, and then I can work on our big Christmas meal for a late lunch.
9- Gifts. Like I did growing up, we always open our gifts from youngest to oldest.
10- Christmas Pictures. After each person is done opening their gifts, I arrange all of their gifts around them on a chair, and take their picture. This way, they won't forget some of the stuff they received over the years, and I won't have to write it all down in their scrapbooks either! :)
11- Giving. Before I became a poor woman, we used to go and pick a family off of a local angel tree; either from church, the city or through work. As a family, I'd take my kids with me to pick out the things to buy for a family in need. We haven't been fortunate enough to pay it forward these last few years, but everytime they see the bell ringers, we dig for spare change and they still give. Every penny counts, right? Most of all, I am glad that they have a spirit of giving within.
12- Christmas Day is Family Day. Just like when I was growing up, we usually do a family-togetherness activity on Christmas Day. Sometimes this has been going sledding. Sometimes it was a new movie. And last year, we just stayed home and played board games.
NEW TRADITION: I have decided to create a new tradition this year. Growing up, my family played a lot of board games. My own kids seem to enjoy them too, though we don't always make the time for them. The last two years, I bought a new game, since they are always on sale this time of year anyway. This year, I bought another new one, and then had this epiphany. This is our new holiday tradition; to buy a new board game every year. Even if we only play games during the holidays, they are still building great memories!
What traditions do YOU do? Or What is something NEW you want to incorporate?