The most heart-warming part of Christmas for me is the little things. The family traditions, the routines we go through, give that sense of comfort and warmth.
We always had some traditions growing up. We opened one present on Chrismas Eve and then set off to the evening service. We ALWAYS had a real tree. Usually one we had cut ourselves off in the woods somewhere. We had our advent wreath, our advent calendar, our nativity set. There were decorations that came out every year and went in the exact same space every year. On Christmas morning, we got up early and went down to just look at our stockings. We weren't allowed to open anything until Mom and Dad got up but the three of us would stand there, excited and trembling, at least four feet back from the stockings (if we got too close we knew we'd succumb to temptation). Sometimes our parents would let us open the items under our stocking before the got up. Or even in our stocking. But the presents under the tree we weren't allowed to touch.
We'd all rush through the gift opening, even Mom. But Dad took his time. It enraged Mom that he'd sometimes still have presents under the tree 3 and 4 days after Christmas. As I got older I tried to emulate him, leaving at least one present until just before bed. Sometimes I even managed to leave one or two for Boxing Day.
I loved doing that because I hated the way Christmas just ended. Boxing Day came and then it was all about the New Year. We always left our tree up until Old Christmas Day (January 6) and sometimes I even managed to convinve my parents to leave it up until my birthday (January 11). But other than that, Christmas was over. Leftover fruitcake and a shedding tree didn't have that same warmth and feeling of tradition.
Our kids are still young and we're trying to sort out what we want our traditions to be. This year my parents gave us the Nativity Set and creche I grew up with. I shed a couple of tears as I set it up with my own daughter yesterday. Last year, we celebrated a mini Christmas on Old Christmas Day. I held back a couple of items and gave the kids a second celebration. This year we're dedicated to not buying into commercial toys. I think that's a tradition we'll continue. Harrison has one Hot Wheels car and Teaghan has a Barbie Doll but the rest of the presents are craft supples, handmade items, books and puzzles. We've also been handmaking felt ornaments over the past few weeks. And we'll definitely be continuing that tradition.
And I've decided to add something else this year. Rather than having Christmas on Dec. 25th and a mini-Christmas on Jan 06 we will be celebrating the 12 days of Christmas. So those craft supplies I've bought for the kids will end up in their stockings starting Boxing Day.
1 art smock
A pair of scissors
3 packs of stickers
4 glue sticks
5 paint brushes
6 pots of paint
7 little notebooks
8 colors of paper
9 skeins of wool
10 drawing pencils
11 scraps of fabric
12 crayons in a roll.
On January 06th they'll also each receive their art tote and their portfolio box for keeping their finished products in. And some other little items to help them in their artistic endeavours. Some home-made playdough and moon sand perhaps.
The baby is a little young for this, but I'm thinking of things I can tuck in his stocking.
Over the past couple of years my husband and I have become very disenamoured with our commercial culture and all those darn toys that break in 10 minutes. Art supplies are something our kids love and doing crafts together means we'll get to share that warm togetherness of Christmas all year round. And this is a tradition we can continue each year, replenishing their supplies and adding more sophisticated ones as they grow.
It's also a present that gives back to us. I can't wait to see all the wonderful creations they'll make and give to us!
What are your traditions? Have you made any new traditions for your family? What's most important to you this season?