That being the case, I'm pretty concerned with making sure that my kids have a much richer, more memorable Christmas experience. I want them to remember the traditions we enjoyed every year when they're grown up and on their own and maybe far away and parenting their own children. But it turns out that inventing new traditions isn't all that easy...
Here's what we have so far:
We trim our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving to make sure we have plenty of time to get into the spirit and enjoy the season. That started two years ago when I was planning to ignore Christmas entirely because the holiday coincided nicely with the first anniversary of my miscarriage, but P. had other ideas. On Black Friday she asked out of nowhere to decorate the tree and so we did. And then we did it again the next year and the next.
We make it to most of the Santa Parade, we are notoriously bad at remembering. We have seen anywhere from the last 15 minutes to the whole parade and then some depending on the year. There's nothing like a middle school marching band playing Sleigh Bells to get you into the Christmas spirit!
Making Christmas cookies and homemade icing from scratch and then having one or even more than one big, messy cookie decorating day has become a tradition. Even though I kind of cringe at the amount of cleanup involved and how sprinkles seem to end up everywhere so I am still finding them under furniture a month later. Also, I have a love/hate relationship with our cookies. I love to eat them, but hate that the sugar gives me headaches.
Christmas music dance parties are now a holiday staple - especially now that P. loves to dance and to put on shows for me and Bo most mornings. I'll freely admit that I like some of the less popular Christmas music - some of the really cheesy stuff and some of the depressing stuff, too. I just wish Pandora had more of the latter and less of the former.
Going to the Christmas house at least once is a big deal. There's a guy with a house near ours that hangs something like 60,000 lights every year and puts up all kinds of other Christmas decorations up, too. We trek out to check it out at least once every year. I'll admit it's awesomer in warm years where the walk downtown is pleasant versus, say, last year where P. was so cold that she didn't really enjoy herself. I could definitely sympathize.
And finally, we decorate the leftover Christmas cookies and listen to one last round of Christmas music on the day the tree comes down. P. hates to see Christmas put away for another whole year and having a fun mini Christmas party on the day we do just that softens the blow. Plus it's an excuse to bust out the frosting and sprinkles!
As for things that have not made it onto our growing list of Christmas traditions include making homemade Christmas presents because DIYing the whole holiday is just too stressful to do every year - mostly because I'm either the one doing it all or coordinating the whole thing, going to my mom's house for Christmas proper because I want P. and Bo to have a magical Christmas morning just the way I didn't most years, and opening a parcel containing new jammies on Christmas Eve - just because it's never worked out. I'd forget to buy them or forget to bring them to my mom's in New York or we'd forget to open them so I finally said enough, no more pressure to remember jams on top of everything else. And we didn't make it to the Hayride with Santa this year because we went to the annual Cookie and Ornament party. Tradeoffs, don't you know!
Now that I've written up this list, though, I feel like what I was thinking of as traditions are just the things that most families do. Not anything out-of-the-ordinary enough to count as traditions. I'll have to ponder that for a while, I guess.
So now you tell me: What holiday traditions have you and your kids embraced that weren't your family's traditions when you were little?