December 10, 2015

Creating Holiday Memories


Christmas is a time for making memories and family traditions. My family didn't have a lot of holiday traditions, but the ones I remember are memories I'll treasure forever.

My siblings and I would sleep in the same room Christmas Eve, often whispering and giggling until we fell asleep. We would always wake up way too early. Our parents had a hard and fast rule - we couldn't wake them up until 7:00 am and we couldn't go into the living room without them. While we waited anxiously for that appointed hour, we would play board games and read books together, speculating what Santa had brought.  When the clock finally reached 7:00, we would sneak down the hall to our parents' bedroom door and knock, yelling, "Merry Christmas!"


My dad insisted we eat something before opening presents. One of my favorite Christmas morning breakfasts was Pop Tarts and orange juice. It was a treat we didn't have often and it was fast so we could get down to business.

We would gather around the Christmas tree, claiming our individual spots for present piling. My dad would hand out presents and we would watch as each person opened theirs in turn. 
The rest of the day was always a blur. We played with our new toys and enjoyed being together. Our Christmas was never elaborate or fancy, but it was always happy.

When my husband and I had children of our own, we instilled some of the same traditions my family had. Especially the 7:00 am wake up call. Although we usually get up before our boys, so we're the ones waking them up.


For us, our Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving. We pull out our Christmas tree and set it up together. My husband and I hang the lights and garland, the boys hang the ornaments. Except the fragile ones. Those ones I do and they're on the uppermost branches to keep little hands from "helping".

Hang Christmas cards where you can see. Incorporate them into your decorations.

Our boys fill out a Christmas wish list  - "what I want, what I need, what I'll wear, what I'll read, and what I really want" - and we take each boy shopping for gifts for their brothers. We try to focus on the giving side of things to best emulate the true reason for the season.

My one and only nativity set. Simple and sweet with the focus on Christ. Just as it should be.

Throughout December, my oldest son and I don Santa hats and we listen to Christmas music. I dabble with a few Christmas carols on the piano as he sings along. Christmas cards are sent the first week of December (so I don't forget to do it!) and the last of the shopping is finished up before the middle of the month so I have time to wrap it all. The presents stay hidden until Christmas Eve. Mostly because I live in a house full of boys that would shake, rattle, and roll the things if I set them out any earlier!

Hang ornaments and garland from your light fixtures to add a bit of festivity.
We also bake cookies and give neighbor gifts. This year I'm trying my hand at biscotti. They're cooling on my stovetop right now and my house smells heavenly!

Christmas Eve is dedicated to making and decorating sugar cookies. (Check out next week's post - Sugar Cookie Capsule - for a fantastic recipe!) We set aside a few for Santa and pig out on the rest. 

When it gets dark, we go for a drive to look at the lights. My younger boys get especially excited for this. They eagerly await the next house so they can see the holiday decorations. 

Hang lights and garland from the underside of your kitchen counter or island using Command Hooks.
Just before boys go to bed, we set out the presents we've been hiding to amp up the excitement. The boys get a chance to look them over and try too guess what's inside. They set out cookies and egg nog for Santa and we herd them off to bed.

Christmas morning we wake the boys and make them wait while we check to see if Santa has come. We turn on the Christmas lights and then let the boys in.

Just like my family, their dad hands out the presents one by one, starting with the stockings. Once presents are open, we enjoy a good breakfast of cinnamon rolls, bacon and eggs, or pancakes. The rest of the day is free for playing, snacking, and relaxing.

It's simple, but wonderful. And oh, so memorable.

 How do you celebrate the holidays? What are your favorite memories/family traditions?

Countdown the days. Use an advent calendar, paper chains, or a
cute little countdown decoration like this one.
And yes, there are just 15 days until Christmas. My boys haven't changed it for today yet.

Coming soon...

Next week I'm featuring another capsule recipe - Sugar Cookies! My friends and I are taking a simple sugar cookie recipe and jazzing it up. One recipe - hundreds of options!

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