I love Christmas time.
It’s my absolute favourite time of the year. I love everything about Christmas, the hype, the kindness people suddenly possess and mostly the ability to unashamedly spoil my children.But, more than that, I love the numerous traditions that surround Christmas.
A history of traditions
As a child, I came from a family of few traditions and so no two Christmases were the same.In South Africa we don’t celebrate cold, TV Christmases with snow or elaborate decorating and so it never felt like a “real” Christmas to me.My first marriage was pretty much trial, error and trying to make ends meet and so as much as we tried to maintain some sort of tradition often we were just winging it each year.I always made a trifle and had my children sleep under the tree on Christmas eve, but other than that Christmas was as abundant and busy as the years bonus would allow.
My favourite traditions
Of course as the children grew so did their need or want of Christmas traditions and the day became a symbol for great food and new gifts.My silent traditions seeping in where I could still could.I’ve always had a mental list of all the things we would do as a family in preparation for Christmas day and would silently tick off those I had accomplished each Christmas.
This is my list :
1. Make and share handmade cards and gifts.
I had a shoe box where I collected stationary, glitter, coloured card and stickers over the months for the children to ue to make cards and gifts.I still prefer a homemade gift to a bought present.
2. Sleeping under the Christmas tree
This was my favourite thing to do. It started by accident, my children did not want to go to bed after we put the Christmas lights up one year, and so I let them sleep on the lounge floor that night.For many years they would decorate the tree on the 12th and make a family bed to fall asleep while the Christmas lights flickered.
3. Family tree decorating
Decorating the Christmas tree with 6 children is like letting Christmas puke on your house.There’s no order as each child creatively makes Christmas their own.Our Christmas trees were always a miss match of colourful, odd and handmade decor. Our trees were a true representation of our home …. busy.
4. Christmas baking
Christmas was the time to go all out as we baked biscuits, gingerbread men and later, when they were older gingerbread houses.There is something about the smell of cinnamon and ginger in a warm house that shouts Christmas.
5. My trifle
Each year I would construct a trifle I’d learnt to make in home economics class.This multi layered treat never lasted long and contained no alcohol.It is just layer upon later of sponge cake, caramel treat, mix tin fruit , ultramel and jelly that has been topped with Orley whip.
6. Christmas caroling
We would sing all the time. In the kitchen, while walking or just playing together.Although I always wanted to go door to door caroling we settled for beautiful carol services at church over Christmas time.
7. Christmas stockings
I love Christmas stockings and nothing fills my heart with more happiness than rows and rows of Christmas stockings.I would hand sew the children’s stockings each year and my favourite year is the year I hung 10 cheap gas store stockings up for my children and their cousins.
Last year I got to hang 14 stockings and my Christmas heart was in it’s happy place.
8. Advent calendar
The one item we never missed was an advent calendar.A cardboard box, brightly decorated with little windows opening to tiny chocolates each morning.Many times I would discover someone had opened all their windows during the night and gobbled up the chocolates by the 10th and that would end our advent attempt.
9. Nativity scene
A nativity scene is important to me as it represents the significance, history and meaning of Christmas.Some years we would make our nativity, other years I would bring out a little ceramic model.
10. Christmas candle
I’m not sure where I first decided we needed a Christmas candle and if I think back, my memory of my earliest candle is the year my grandmother passed.But I would walk the shops until I found the perfect candle.There was often nothing elaborate about the candle, but my Christmas candle shines for those we wish were at our table and so, many years later I still buy a new Christmas candle each year.
13. Look at the Christmas lights
Each year the kids and I would walk through the malls enjoying the Christmas lighs and decor.Some years we would drive to the centre of town to enjoy the large lights the council had hung.
14. String popcorn
The year my eldest child celebrated her first Christmas, I was at my father and my teen sister and step brother were trying to avoid the parents, I remember we had watched a happy family Christmas movie where the kids had been stringing popcorn and I decided there and then that regardless of our home we would have a happy Christmas .My children always loved this tradition, although they ate more than they strung.
15. Writing to Santa
Each year I would sit with the kids and we would page through the Checkers toy guide and they would write or draw long elaborate lists to Santa.This was also a great way for me to see what each of the 6 of them wanted.
18. Christmas hat’s and props
I’ve never needed a reason to dress up so we have always had a box of Christmas hats and props for the kids to dress up in.
19. Christmas clothing
As a young girl my gran would gift us a church outfit ( even though we never attended church as a family) and a blanket every Christmas eve.I fell into the same habit with my own children, leaving out the blanket and gifted them a new outfit to wear for Christmas day.
20. Christmas movies
Who doesn’t love a Christmas movie?To me the true Christmas season would start when all the hallmark movies came on.I had a large collection of kids DVDs that all centered around Christmas and as a bedtime treat the kids would get to watch one a night.
As my own children have gotten older and we’ve adjusted to new family dynamics we have changed or altered some traditions.After I had Hamish, the need to impliment those traditions, one again, became essential. Only this time I had a new husband to consider and we had to find a compromise on blending our traditions together.
Whilst I still keep all of the above traditions, I’ve also added these new ones for Hamish
1. 24 Christmas book advent
From last year I collected 24 books that have a Christmas theme and we read one each evening in December.
2.Reading Christmas story on Christmas day
I bought Hamish a beautiful Children’s bible and we will read him the Christmas story on Christmas day.This year I also have the Superbook DVD which tells the beautiful story of The first Christmas for him to watch.
5.leaving Santa his favourite milk and biscuits and a carrot for Rudolph
Santa works hard and so we want to say Thank you to him and Rudolph by first baking Santa some biscuits and leaving him one with a glass of milk and a carrot for Rudolph on Christmas eve.
6.Christmas eve box
I love this tradition and we have a wooden crate for Hamish. Each year we buy a premade kit which usually consists of:
- a Nice list certificate
- Santa button that he gets caught on the tree
- Santa key to come inside and deliver gifts
- Reindeer bell that Rudolph loses
- letter writing kit
- letter from Santa
- Reindeer feed
- and some treats.
Last year was the first year we did an elf on the shelf and everyone in the family was an immediate fan.I had great fun thinking up things for the elf to do over the month of December. Hamish couldn’t wait to see what the elf had done.I think this is my favourite tradition.
8. Santa cam
This year we have a specially made Santa cam that will be watching to see if Hamish is behaving.This is really just a decorated bauble.
There are many more small cute things each year and I’m sure the list will grow .
I’d love to hear about some of your favourite Christmas traditions.