Every person who celebrates the Christmas holiday brings their own family traditions to their adulthood. And when a new family is formed through marriage, or living together, there will be new ideas and compromise and creativity in starting new traditions that can be a blend of both family’s past, or completely new. Family traditions don’t have to begin when there’s a baby, but if one hasn’t before, this is the perfect time to start thinking about what you would like to do with your child over the coming years of celebration. Let’s start with Christmas Eve, the beginning of the story of Christmas.
Some ideas from friends, from our family, from the internet, and from magazines:
– Is religious worship going to be part of the holiday for your family? If so, visit your church, or if you are not a member of a church, find a lovely house of worship to visit that evening. It is truly hard to resist the beauty of a wonderfully decorated church at night, the candle light, the red ribbon swags, the fresh evergreen smell, and the beautiful story and hymns. In our family we loved to go to midnight services at the local Episcopal church in San Carlos, California. It was a treat to go and be out so late, and also had a beautiful calming effect for a good night’s sleep.
– When do you have your main holiday meal with family? Is Christmas Eve a simple meal? Prepared at home, or take out? It took my mother, who is now 93, many many years to realize Christmas Eve was the better night to have a big fancy turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Yes, it was fun and festive and delicious. And we all helped clean up the table and dishes. Then the next day, Christmas Day, we had a beautiful spread of leftovers for dinner and she, my mom, didn’t have to spend the entire day cooking! We weren’t from a big family – no aunts, uncles, cousins, to share the holiday cooking. So it was all on our mother to prepare, and this was a lovely tradition we established.
– Do you decorate the tree on Christmas Eve when the children are asleep?
– What arrangements do you make for Santa and the Reindeer? Cookies and milk?
– Are Christmas stockings, stuffed with age appropriate small items going to be part of Christmas morning? Believe it or not, my adult children still want their stockings if they are home for Christmas. And now there’s a son in law and grandson, so we are still in the stocking stuffer shopping club.
– Will you have a Christmas eve family photo in front of the tree?
– Would you enjoy taking the kids for a drive around town to see the decorated homes? Does your town have a Santa Claus Lane, where everyone on those blocks decorates their homes?
– Do you have a favorite Christmas movie to watch every single Christmas Eve? How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Peanuts Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street (first filmed in 1947!), Babes in Toyland, The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, Frosty the Snowman, Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, or The Polar Express to name a few.
– Are you going to open just one gift for each person on Christmas Eve. Many families do this right after Church services. And one of the cutest ideas I’ve heard from a friend was that everyone gets new matching pj’s on Christmas Eve, and then poses for a holiday photo. – That was a Grandmother gift by the way.
Whatever your Christmas Eve traditions become they will be yours, they will be remembered, they will be treasured. And many will be passed down through generations. Favorite recipes, fabulous ornaments for the tree, fun photo albums of Christmas past.