We are really quite unexciting homebodies at Christmas. We don't do the Nutcracker or head into New York. We stay pretty local and keep it really simple.
There are so many little traditions of the holidays - of course the leaving of the cookies and milk for Santa, the sprinkling of the reindeer food, the hanging of the stockings, and that blessed
Elf On The Shelf.
Jingles, our very Type B Elf who doesn't like to move much or engage in mischievous antics.
We don't always get our tree at the same place - some years we chop it, some years we get it from the Kmart parking lot. We don't always go to the parade or do an advent calendar. We change things up year to year.
After 12 years, I finally bought a tree topper at Big Lots for $6. I love a great deal!
But for me, there are some simple things that just make Christmas Christmas.
I can't imagine my holidays without them.
Childhood Christmas Books
These two books are vintage from my own childhood, which means they are like 100 years old. The spines are torn and the pop-up pull tabs taped back together from decades of use. I remember my parents reading these to us every Christmas eve and now I do the same with my girls.
Rudolf (With A Golden Nose)
We bought this big reindeer at WalMart or somewhere like that when Pink was a baby and every year we take the girls' picture on it right in front of the tree. Each sits on there for a separate "photo shoot" and then we try to get a group shot, which usually ends up horribly.
They already know that I'll still be making them sit on this reindeer when
they come home from college.
The Ribbon At The Bottom Of The Stairs
In our house, Santa leaves the filled stockings on each girl's bed which they can open when they wake (at 4:45 am most years). Santa also ties a great big red velvet ribbon across the bottom of the staircase to prevent little girls from rushing downstairs too soon. They are so cute lined up on the bottom step squealing and craning their necks to see what's under the tree.
After a few snapshots, we untie the ribbon and let them loose.
We savor the morning by opening the presents one-by-one. If not, Christmas morning would be over in 90 seconds. We start oldest to youngest and each girl picks out a gift (not for themselves) from under the tree, hands it off, and everyone watches them open it and oooohs and ahhhhs. We stop mid-way through the gift opening for breakfast and hot chocolate and then return.
I like to make good things last!
Holiday Cookies and Christmas Cards
Though I believe I've established that I suck in the kitchen I do enjoy baking (though I can't claim to be any good at it). Every year I bake cookies and host a cookie exchange with a group of friends. Some years, like this one, there are actually NO cookies at the cookie exchange so we make it a wine exchange instead and drink the inventory 'til midnight. That works too.
I know not everyone is "into" holiday cards and and many people "opt out" of this tradition. I totally get why - it is one more stressor. I, oddly enough, actually enjoy sending holiday cards - ANY card really. I'm strange like that. So I do them. They aren't the cutest, most expensive, or original cards in the world, but I just like to take the time to think of my friends and family, especially those far away.
The REAL Santa
The Santa-Vising never really quite worked out for us. My three youngest are STILL scared of him. We bypass the "Mall Santa" completely and visit the "Real" St. Nick every year when he attends the "Dr. Fabulous Family HUGE annual Big Fat Italian Christmas Party" up near New York.
Real Santa is the MAN... he is very familiar with Autism and so sweet with CB. However, as you can see, I still have to serve as a "lap buffer" between he and my girls.
He's pretending I'm not totally crushing his leg right now.
Here's my first baby's visit to see Santa.
CB was 7 months old and was probably the only of my four who looked happy sitting on his lap.
A Good Fire
I love a good fire. I actually made this one all by myself last night (which is why it's practically crawling out of the fireplace ready to burn the house down).
Tonight we are going to snuggle our family up in front of it and appreciate a free Friday night to spend unscheduled and together. We have a big travel day tomorrow for my grandmother's family Christmas Party so we'll hit the sack early!
What are your favorite holiday traditions?