Even though my husband and I have been married for 3 1/2 years already, I don't feel like we have really established many Christmas traditions yet as a couple. We have split our Christmases between our families across the country and this is the first year that we'll be spending Christmas at our own house. Because of that, I'd like to share some traditions my family shared while I was growing up, as well as some of those that I'd like to continue with our children some day.
* My dad is a woodworker and he makes a beautiful wooden Christmas ornament each year for each family member and for close friends. He works on it months in advance and makes dozens and dozens. When I was little I always knew what he was making because I would sit down in his shop and watch him work. Now that we live far away, I get to be among those who wait in anticipation and try to guess what he will make next. This year it was a beautiful sled. He has been making ornaments each year since 1990 and can't wait until we get a real tree next year so I can display ALL of them.
* Growing up, we always had an advent wreath in our dining room that we lit before dinner each night before saying a few prayers. This is something I would like to continue with my children eventually because I feel that in a world bombarded with toys and commercialization it puts the focus of Christmas back on God every night.
* I love advent calendars . . . to me they help build anticipation, but also teach patience. Right now I've been re-using a beautiful cardboard calendar made in Germany. However, I have seen lots of cute patterns around the internet and I would like to sew a really special one some time that my family can use year after year.
* We put up a Nativity when we decorate our house for Christmas, but we don't add the Baby Jesus until Christmas Eve.
* My family always celebrated St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6. We would put out our shoes in the hope of goodies and he would always leave a little toy or candy for us the following morning. We learned about St. Nick and his generosity both in school and from our parents. My Grandma would sometimes make St. Nicholas cookies with us around that time. This was another special tradition I want to make sure to carry on with my own kids.
* One thing that my husband and I have started on our own is picking a child or two from a tree at a church or business and buying gifts for them. This year we bought clothes and toys for a little boy and a little girl who would have otherwise gone without anything. It was really meaningful for us and we hope to continue even after we have children of our own to buy for.
* Both of our families have traditionally gone to church on Christmas Eve and then come home afterwards for dinner and gifts. I just love the candlit church service... so beautiful, especially when the church is all decorated and we get to sing Christmas songs... In my family, dinner after church was always shrimp and scallops. We loved it because it was a "special" meal that we didn't get often but it didn't take too long to prepare. Then we would sit around the tree and open our presents. Santa would come overnight and leave a gift or two for us in the morning. My dad would make pancakes or omelets on Christmas morning and we would head out for a snowy hike by the river in the afternoon.
Thanks for letting me share my traditions. Hopefully we will start more this year as we celebrate Christmas with my husband's family in our new home. We wish all of you a wonderful Christmas!
If you'd like to share your own traditions, link here: