One of the things I love about this time of year is how so many become focused on their families, creating new traditions and keeping up old ones. Ryan and I talked about this a lot before we were married and what we were raised with that was special and what we wanted to do with our own family. It is a very large part of establishing your family and what is important to you and sometimes you keep things up because they are important to your parents.
This picture is that. Every year since Ryan was born, his mom has gotten a picture of her kids with Santa. It is her favorite thing about Christmas and holds so much value. She has often said that if her house was on fire, the Santa pictures would be the first thing she would grab.
The last few years have become increasingly difficult to get everyone together to do so and this year wouldn't have been any different.
We solved this problem by purchasing a Santa suit for his dad and decided that whenever we are together we will snap a picture, with Papa Fred as Santa. We also kept up the tradition of "matching" which we also know is her favorite, right Katie ;)? This is by far the most fun we've had taking a Santa picture and will continue to do it every year.
I have never gotten a picture of just our kids with Santa and they seem to be fine with it. It's a tradition we may or may not pick up at some point.
Growing up my family didn't decorate or listen to Christmas music until December 1st. Ryan's was sometime in early November. Ryan isn't a fan of Christmas music and could really care less about decorating but he is wonderful about letting me get my thrill from it so we met in the middle. The year Selah was born I was going to be induced the day after Thanksgiving and knew I wouldn't want to decorate with a newborn. We were at Home Depot when they unloaded the Christmas trees off of the truck 3 days before Thanksgiving so we grabbed one then. Since then, we've continued to do it that way. I need a good full month to enjoy my tree and my husband is sweet enough to go along with it.
The only advent we ever did was those little chocolate calendars. My grandma faithfully bought them for us every year and now buys them for our kids. I love that.
I definitely want to make a bigger deal about advent with our kids though and plan on doing so next year when they are a little bit older. At this point I feel like it would look like me pulling teeth to get them to sit and listen and turn into anything but what it is supposed to be. I absolutely love what I've seen about the advent devotional from Ann Voskamp and will probably go that route.
This was a big deal in my family. My mom is a fabulous baker and there were a few cookies that are synonymous with "Christmas". Sour cream tarts, jelly deals, nutmeg melt aways, and walnut crescents. Always. There is nothing that makes any of these particularly Christmasy, except that we pretty much only made them in December. This is one tradition that will always and forever happen for us. I also make a huge batch of sugar cookies to decorate with the girls for their enjoyment...not my own.
Ryan's family has always had prime rib dinner and that is something that we have continued to do the same way, we just do different side dishes.
While the dinner has varied over the years, we have always had Christmas dinner at my grandparents house. This year, however, we get to host it! I'm so excited about it.
I am the oldest of 11 and Ryan is the oldest of 4 and now we are adding nieces and nephews so we draw names with our siblings. It is really the only way anyone could afford Christmas. This is something I'm sure we will continue to do forever.
We decided to again meet in the middle of what we were both raised with when it came to gifts with our own kids and have made it a point to make each gift meaningful and not do too many. Between grandparents, their exchange gift, and us, our kids just don't need to have more and our desire is to instill a heart of gratefulness more than anything. We let the girls each pick something out for each other and that is their favorite part.
We also take them shopping to buy gifts for another boy or girl through something like Angel tree, WARC, Operation Christmas Child, etc.
We do our stockings on Christmas Eve night and each year they get a new pair of jammies and a movie and other little things that vary every year.
My favorite tradition has to be Gene Autry. When my mom was a kid they had to stay upstairs on Christmas morning until they heard Gene Autry's voice over the record player, "Happy holidays, folks, wherever you may be."
It became the signal on Christmas Eve morning for us to run out to open our stockings.
And now you had better believe that Mr. Autry is our background on Christmas morning as well. Although I'm determined to find my own vinyl record to play as I feel it would be far more appropriate than being played on an iPod.
We have been majorly blessed to live by family so far so do we spend time with them on at least one of the two days. When we were first married our plan was to alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas between the two families. Unfortunately our very first Christmas was spent with multiple canceled traveled plans and heartache and we decided right then that we wouldn't travel on Christmas anymore, especially once we had kids. Best decision we've made. So far it has worked out beautifully and we have been able to spend some sort of joint Thanksgiving/Christmas with both families every year. We believe that it is just a day and as long as we can still celebrate at some point, that is what matters the most.
What traditions do you have with your family? Have they differed much once starting a family of your own?