Most of us remember the holidays, not just because of the presents or festivities that go along with them, but because of special traditions from our childhood.
This week, we share some favorite Holiday traditions from our childhoods, and how we are making new traditions for our families now that we have children of our own.
The holidays are definitely my favorite time of year. When Halloween rolls around I become so excited for all of the upcoming events. I grew up with very traditional holiday celebrations but they were always such a highlight of every year and I want to carry some of those traditions on in my family with my children.
Every year, the day after Thanksgiving we got our Christmas tree and decorated it that night listening to Elvis, or Tony Bennett, or randomly Christmas in Hollis (nothing says Christmas like Run DMC). And as we’ve moved or gotten married or had children our places of celebration have changed but somehow, no matter whose house we celebrate in, the feeling is always the same. It’s comforting and warm, and fills me with such joy, I want my children to have that same feeling. So this year, we got our tree the day after Thanksgiving with my parents. We decorated the tree that night, and the next morning Evie got up and saw the tree and the look in her eye said it all.
We are building memories with our children and just the thought of that fills me with the same joy. Every morning we listen to the Tony Bennett holiday station on Pandora and Evie is starting to learn Christmas carols. We’re going to have our traditional breakfasts and dinners with our family. We’ll all go to mass together at my niece’s school, just as everyone went to Mass at my Catholic school that I attended. But, my husband and I want to add our own traditions too. Every vacation we take we buy a new ornament for our Christmas tree. On Christmas eve, we all open a new pair of pajamas. Our Elf on the Shelf, Zeke, makes his daily appearance (right now he is hanging from the blinds in the kitchen). A combination of old and new feels just right.
The next step is to get Evie to learn all the words to Christmas in Hollis. Or, maybe not.
I can’t say that I love the “Holiday Season” as a whole, but I do love parts of it. I love the spirit of community and of giving that so many seem to get this time of year. I love that people feel more inclined to donate and volunteer, or to go to local festivals and events. I love that so many of us go to greater lengths the show others that we care. (I just wish it would last through the rest of the year!) I love taking some of the traditions that we grew up with and making some new ones for ourselves.
One of my favorite traditions from when I was a kid was our annual outing to go get pumpkins for Halloween. I grew up near St. Louis, MO and every year we would make the drive to take a ferry across the river into Illinois. We would go to a small pumpkin patch and the rule was you could pick out which ever one you wanted, but you had to be able to carry it. What a great idea! (Yeah, I admit it. My parents had a few.) It stopped us from getting some crazy huge and expensive pumpkin or whining about the fact that our parents had to say “no.” Afterwards we would go to a park and where we had a picnic and played the rest of the day. So fun! I have some great memories of this.
I want to make memories like this for my kids too. So, one of our traditions is “Christmas Tree Day”. The morning after Thanksgiving we go to Black Road Tree Farm (in the mountains near Los Gatos). We bring our dog and the kids and walk around to find our perfect tree. After it’s been cut and my husband hauls it back up to return the saw, we have the staff take our picture with our new tree. We then go home to put up the tree and the rest of the decorations, and hang the lights on the house.
I think it is also important to teach our kids the importance of community and giving. We don’t have much ourselves these days, but we donate what and when we can. We give not only items, but our time as well. Though my kids are still young, they learn by example and I hope to set a good one for them.
Traditions are an important part of celebrating holidays, especially for children. It can be fun to share some of the traditions you grew up with while creating some new ones. Let the kids help with this, too. You will be creating their lasting memories, and maybe even some traditions that they will share with their families some day.
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What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Are you starting some new ones with your own family? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!