Traditions:: Creating Holiday Traditions Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

I want for my kids to feel like being a part of our family is something special. For me, the holiday season brings with it feelings of comfort, excitement and familiarity. I think much of my emotion surrounding the holidays is thanks to my parents. All the traditions that they created with my sister and I made each season something to look forward to. I want that for my kids. As the Christmas season approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my husband and I can start to build special and unique traditions with our kids.

Some of the traditions I grew up with:

  • Listening to Run DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis” and Elmo and Patsy’s “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (on the record player!)
  • Baking and decorating Christmas cookies, and then delivering them to neighbors.
  • Volunteering as a family to sort food for Roadrunner Food Bank.
  • Driving around different neighborhoods on Christmas Eve to find and enjoy all the Christmas light displays.
  • Setting my alarm for 3 a.m. on Christmas day, so my sister and I could sneak out and peek at the gifts before returning to bed until morning.
  • Stocking stuffers were (and still are!) always practical items, like pencils, socks, lip balm, etc. Usually they would have a special twist (fun patterns, interesting scents, etc.)

Letting Go of the Old and Opening Up to the New

My first couple of years as a mom, I remember feeling disappointment over the loss of so many of the traditions I grew up with. It’s not exactly easy to volunteer at a food bank as a family with a two-year-old in tow. It also doesn’t make sense, when your kids are overstimulated, exhausted, and a little sniffly, to drive around town at 9 p.m. looking at Christmas lights. Now I realize that although I’ve let go of some of the things that used to make my Christmases special, we are making the holidays special for our family in new ways that work for us right now.

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I’m finally starting to understand that not all traditions need to be big, over-the-top ordeals. I am absolutely guilty of allowing Pinterest and mommy bloggers make me feel like a lesser parent sometimes. I’m lazy because I don’t spend hours each December evening creating the perfect Elf on the Shelf scene for my kids to find in the morning. I’m also boring because I don’t throw over-the-top Christmas parties that look like something straight out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. But – something as simple as playing holiday music can be a fun family tradition. 

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Some of the traditions we’ve started as a family (without even trying!):

  • Tuning in to Christmas music – like clockwork – the day after Halloween. In the car, at home, all the time.
  • Decorating the inside and outside of the house for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving
  • Bringing out our Elf on the Shelf (my daughter named her Sparkle) for the month of December
  • DIY gifts for our extended family members (we’ve done yarn wreaths, miniature succulent terrariums, decoupage candle holders, etc. in years past.)
  • Baking and delivering Christmas cookies, just like my sister and I used to do with my mom.
  • A new pair of Christmas jammies for each of the kids each year.
  • A visit with Santa at my mom’s company holiday party.
  • Gathering with BOTH sides of the family (mine and my husband’s) on Christmas Eve for a fun gag-gift exchange.

As my kids get older, there are things I’d like to add to our list of traditions. Someday we’ll volunteer at food banks and see those light displays on Christmas Eve. It’s okay if we don’t do it this year. Just being together with them and seeing the smiles on their faces is my favorite tradition of all.

What special traditions does your family enjoy during the holidays?

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