Last fall, I created a scrapbook all about our family’s holiday traditions. It’s placed in the living room near the tree, just waiting to be opened! This album is filled with photos and tons of detailed journaling! (Imagine that!) My intent was to have looking through this holiday album become a tradition in itself! My last article in the magazine was all about this album and I couldn’t have been more pleased to end on this note. I look forward to adding to the album in years to come. I have to admit that I anticipate our holiday traditions more than the babes do the opening of the presents! Here’s some details of our Corbridge Christmas traditions:
- December mornings begin with moving the advent calendars, filled with candy and treats before breakfast... how could you not love that as a babe? Keeping up is simple because the babes won’t let me forget it!
- Each evening, we spend time by one of the trees playing games, reading stories or both. The lights and Christmas music in playing in the background makes the room warm and cozy. It’s not the same with the regular lights on!
- Twenty years ago, I made a special candle holder that has 12 candle cups on a circular base. Each year, I place12 white tapered candles in the cups. On the 12th of December, we light one candle at dinner and eat by the candlelight. (It’s not very bright!) On the 13th, we light two. Each night, we light one more candle. By Christmas Eve, with the light of 12 candles, the room is plenty bright (and warm). Each night, we discuss the star that would shine so bright that the entire world could see it, the shepherds could follow it to the baby Jesus, the significance of the light of Christ in our lives. Each night, a different topic regarding light and Christ. By the last night, the first candle lit is usually only an inch or two tall and the rest step up to the newly lit candle. This spiraling circle of light is a favorite tradition for our big kids. We retired this tradition a few years ago when Liza, the only child still at home, worked nights. The babes were too young to participate. This year, we bring out the candles again as the babes are old enough to understand and join in the discussions! I hope that it’s as meaningful as it was the first time around.
- Each year, we select a family to do something special for and never reveal ourselves as the givers. Over the years, we’ve left live trees decorated in ribbons and bows, meals in a basket, treats of all sorts, family night baskets complete with a movie, treats, popcorn and pop. The biggest thrill of it all is the actual ring the doorbell and run or call from the van from around the corner to say, "Open your front door! Merry Christmas!"
- We usually open one gift on Christmas Eve morning - a game or new movie, just to help occupy antsy children throughout the day!
- On Christmas Eve, after our candlelight dinner, we gather in the living room for Doug to share the story of the birth of the Savior, usually lasting about 3-5 minutes and then, each year we rotate, someone places the baby Jesus into our first Nativity. It’s been a tradition since the year that Dale had just turned 1 and Doug’s mother gave us our first Nativity. (We call it the Chocolate Nativity because many people have asked if it is!) After the Nativity, we open one gift, which is always new Jammies. Santa’s bells are usually heard outside about that time, meaning, "HURRY to sleep so he doesn’t have to come back!"
- We leave cookies and milk for Santa and he usually leaves a little behind.
- On Christmas morning, the first person awake, no matter how early it is, starts calling out loud, "Merry Christmas!" until everyone is up. Hair is brushed and then everyone waits at the bottom of the stairs together while I turn on Mannheim Steamroller, the Christmas lights and get the cameras ready. Everyone walks up the stairs together with the camera flashing every step of the way.
- We all open our stockings at the same time. (Stockings are a whole other blog entry!)
- Presents are opened one at a time, taking turns from the youngest to the oldest. Everyone has the same number of gifts (or is supposed to). I do not use gift tags on most gifts. Each gift is numbered on the tape on the back seam of each gift. I keep the numbered list in my planner. Doug removes them from under the tree,one at a time, as I check who it belongs to. (Every year, at least one gift gets opened by the wrong person because I wrote down the wrong number. I’ve already listed one gift twice this year, so something is not recorded!) Until Christmas morning, everyone leaves the gifts under the tree alone because no one knows who’s is who’s. Up until Christmas morning, they guess and pick which gifts are theirs. Everyone is always certain that the biggest belongs to them! On Christmas morning, it’s fun to see and hear the expressions of "I knew this one was mine!"
- Santa only brings one or two items (usually the impossible to wrap) and fills the stockings. The most wanted and best gift is always the last gift that gets opened. A couple of reasons.... 1) selfishly, Doug and I get to be the hero instead of the bearded man in the red suit... 2) It’s much more fun to keep the anticipation and excitement up until the very end! 3) Opened at the end, they can take as long as they want to examine and play and discover every detail because no one else is waiting for their turn.
- We stay in our jammies all day long, have our tradition brunch and watch movies, nap and play the rest of the day. The meal is prepared and the table is set with the fun Christmas dishes the night before, so that we only heat and serve in the morning.)
- Leftovers, relish trays, cheese balls, partyfood from the Christmas Eve feast are ready for snacking and munching all day long. Moms shouldn’t have to spend Christmas day in the kitchen! That’s our holiday traditions. My own quote:
"Traditions are the magic of Christmas!