Christmas Traditions

Every family has their own set of Christmas traditions.  They break out the good plates and the recipe card for those favorite dishes.  But what about the things you do every year?  Watch a favorite movie, open gifts on Christmas Eve, have a certain breakfast.  You get the idea.   But then there is my family…so many weird traditions.

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The Tree

Real or Artificial?  I always loved going out to get a real tree.  We made a family event of it.  But trees started getting really expensive and all the places I liked getting them from were going out of business.  To help with my sanity, I caved in and finally bought an artificial tree a few years ago.  It’s ok.

When do you put up your tree?  My Mother-in-Law always liked putting hers up on Thanksgiving Day because all the Granddaughters would pitch in and decorate it for her.  Since my daughter has a mid December birthday, I always tried to wait until afterwards to put up our tree.  I never wanted her birthday to get lumped together with Christmas.   Now, I try to wait until the kids are home if I can, so that we can put on the ornaments together.

Ornaments

When we first had children I started a tradition of buying each person a special ornament for the Christmas tree each year.  When we come together to decorate the Christmas tree, each person hangs their own ornaments and we giggle about how silly some seem now.  We have had Sesame Street, Power Rangers, NFL Players, Barbies, and so much more.

Now that the kids are grown up, you should see the extent of this collection.  It is quite a feat just finding space to get “the good ones” on the tree.   It seems like it was easier when they were little to come up with an ornament that captured who they were in that moment.  But somehow, I continue to find an ornament for everyone each year.  Some of my favorite’s were ESPN ornaments for my son.  Santa reading the sports from the ESPN desk (complete with a button for sound effects).  And the Clark Griswold  ornaments for my husband who always struggles with the Christmas lights.

Once we do get all those ornaments on the tree, it is quite the sight to see.  People who stop by probably think we are crazy.  I always say that someday I am going to do a “pretty” tree, but that is yet to be seen.  Tradition wins ever time.

Tree Topper

Do you top your tree with an Angel or Star?  I use a 1973 Hardware Store Angel at the top of the tree.  It was originally my parents, so was on the tree many years as I grew up.  Her face is sweet but smudged and her wings are a little misshapen from years of packing and unpacking (in her original box mind you).  My favorite part of this angel is that she comes apart so that you can insert a Christmas sized light bulb under her lace skirt.  I generally choose a red or blue bulb, because that’s just who I am….a little different.  When you turn her on, the light shines through the lace creating a neat little pattern on the ceiling.  These are the things that make me smile during the hectic holidays.  Solid traditions.

Sorry for the old photo but it illustrates the stockings, the angel and her shadow on the wall.

Stockings

Growing up, my family had very speceial Christmas stockings.  They were all hand made by my Great Aunt, Jeanette.  They were felt with the backs  either being green or red.  The fronts were white with your names spelled out in red or green felt letters.  They were stitched together with thick red thread and covered with little hand created items.  Some of the items on or stockings were reindeer, trees, stars, mittens, ornaments, or little stockings.  Because they were hand made, everyone’s was just a little different.  When Aunt Jeanette stopped making them, one of her daughters made them for a while.  I was able to secure stockings for the 4 of us.  We hang them every year and they are well worn and loved.

Austin’s Stocking – As you can see, I’m not very crafty.

When we started having Austin join our Christmases, I needed him to have a stocking.  I so wanted it to be like ours, but that was really not possible.  I am not very crafty my friends, but I found a plain stocking similar to ours and did what I could.  I did my best to make little felt ornaments to adorn the front and it is ok.  But my OCD really wants it to be just like ours.

Christmas Cookies

Then there are the cookies.  So many cookies.  When we moved from North Carolina back to Michigan, I really missed my family that were still there.  Especially around the holidays.  Part of my “self-therapy” was baking my way through the holidays.  I would invite all my friends over and bake all day while they frosted.  Then we would make Christmas Cheer Baskets for people and everyone would take some home too.

A Sampling of our Christmas Cookies – We all have varying levels of decorating skills!  

From hosting this cookie event over 20 years, and adding at least 1 new cutter every year, I have acquired quite a collection.  I now have 2 totes full of them.  Because I am a little twisted, I like to get some funny cutters.  I have a set of Ninja Bread Men, a set of Christmas Gnomes, all the traditional cutters and everyone’s favorite the Ugly Sweater Cutter.  People really enjoy getting creative while decorating the Ugly Sweaters.  Sometimes we have competitions.  It just makes things fun.

Wrapping Paper

I know that I am weird…but everyone gets their own wrapping paper each year.  No tags.  All of a person’s gifts will be in that one special paper that I picked out just for them.  This started because when the kids were younger and shaking packages, they couldn’t be sure it was theirs.  I use our left over paper from the previous year to wrap gifts for other family and friends.  I hate wasting anything.

I also use old wrapping paper to cover the tables with when we frost cookies or have a buffet.  When we are done, I just roll up the paper that is covered with frosting or food and toss it away.

So please comment sharing  your favorite Christmas traditions!  We would all love to hear about them.  Then put on your matching PJ’s, watch The Christmas Story and wait for Santa to arrive.

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!