Christmas is right around the corner, and I have been doing some reminiscing about Christmases from years past. More specifically, I have been thinking about some of my family’s sticky traditions – you know, traditions that create memories that really stick with you. Here are just a few of our stickiest Christmas traditions.
Holiday Lights, Christmas Trees, Cousins, and Happy Meals
When I was very young, my grandparents would take me and all of my cousins on a special Christmas outing every year. They would borrow a large passenger van from a friend and pick us all up for a ride. We would ooo and aah over holiday light displays, sing Christmas carols, and stop at McDonald’s for happy meals. (Eating at McDonald’s was a much bigger deal back then than it is now.) Then, they would bring us back to their house so that my cousins and I could decorate their tree. Additionally, they gave us each a special grandchild ornament each year.
That outing was so much fun! Driving around to admire holiday light displays is still one of my favorite things to do around Christmas time, and I’m pretty sure it is because I have such fond memories from these annual outings with my grandparents.
Christmas is Christmas, and Birthdays are Birthdays!
My birthday is two weeks before Christmas. It would have been so easy for my birthday celebrations to get combined with the holiday festivities (or lost amidst all of the holiday festivities). But my parents were determined to keep my birthday special and separate, and thus, the Christmas season didn’t start in our household until the day after my birthday. Go ahead, ask my brothers when we put up our Christmas tree. Without hesitation, they would answer “December 12.” My birthday was the 11th, and the tree went up on the 12th. Every. Single. Year.
I never doubted my self-worth as a child – partially due to this particular sticky tradition. I felt valued and special. I am so fortunate to have such wonderful and thoughtful parents.
Side Note: As an adult, I do NOT wait that long to put up my own Christmas tree. We put up our tree on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. But my poor mother though! She would like to start putting her tree up earlier now that I am grown with a family of my own. However, my dad often insists that they wait until the 12th anyways… because “it’s tradition!”
The Disappearing and Reappearing Ugly Ornament
My parents loved all of the handmade ornaments that we crafted for them as children. It didn’t matter how ugly those ornaments were; they loved them all and kept them all. Those ornaments are still proudly displayed on their tree every year. One particular ugly ornament was made by my youngest brother when he was in the first grade (30ish years ago). It is merely a white styrofoam ball with cloves shoved in it. He tied a ribbon around it so that it could be hung from a tree, and it is accented with a single jingle bell. Truly, it’s only good quality was that it smelled wonderful back in the day due to the cloves. However, it has lost all of its scent over the years.
As a child, I decided that this cherished ornament was too ugly to be prominently displayed on the front of our tree and would move it to the back of the tree where no one could see it. My family caught on to this, and when I wasn’t looking, they would return it to a prominent location on the front of the tree. Of course, I would discover this and return it to the back of the tree only to find it moved to the front again later. This has become a running family joke that even the newest generations have begun to partake in. My children take joy in moving the ugly ornament to the back of Grandpa and Grandma’s tree, and my brother’s children take joy in moving it back to a front and center position on the tree. You know that something is an especially sticky tradition if it continues to create happy memories for new generations.
As a parent myself, I have been trying to create some sticky traditions of my own. It’s my hope that my children will cherish their childhood memories as much as I cherish mine. Here are a few little things that we do with our children to create memories that stick.
Elf on the Shelf – Our elf is not as creative as some other family’s elves but our children LOVE searching for him each morning during the month of December. Our elf simply moves from hiding spot to hiding spot, and he occasionally brings a small gift or craft project. He has even been known to bring learning worksheets for the kids to do. This has been a fun tradition for the entire family – even our teen enjoys helping me move the elf each night.
Holiday Movie Nights – We love family movie nights! Pizza, family-friendly movies, laughter and amazement, popcorn – what’s not to love! During the holiday season, there are two movies that we watch every single year – the Polar Express and Home Alone. As you may have read in a previous post, we are combining our Polar Express movie night with my love for holiday light displays this year in a special family adventure.
Dinner by Candlelight – I often celebrate special occasions by preparing a special meal and serving it by candlelight. On Christmas Eve, we typically eat dinner by the glow of candy cane striped candles. Other special occasions that warrant candlelit meals include Valentine’s Day and our wedding anniversary.
New Year’s Eve Toasts – My husband and I always purchase a bottle or two of non-alcoholic sparkling juice for New Year’s Eve. We pull out some stemware and have a toast with our family. The kids think it is a real treat to drink from fancy glasses and to clink them together. For the last couple of years, the children have started proposing some toasts of their own; this has made it extra fun (and funny).
Those are a few of the little things that help to make our holidays special. What are some of your family’s sticky traditions? How do you create memories that stick?
Special Note: I’m taking next week off from blogging in order to fully enjoy the holidays with my family. A few of my favorite posts will be featured on the Minivan Adventures FaceBook page throughout next week though for your reading enjoyment. See you next year! Merry Christmas, everyone!