Thursday, December 26, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Family Traditions

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas. I got sick a few weeks ago and worried that I wouldn't be able to fit all 12 days of Christmas DIYs in and unfortunately, did not. I had 3 left but they can become New Years related instead! Christmas is a really big deal in my family. I think most families have a person that is Christmas-obsessed and for us it was my grandfather. We carry on loving Christmas and treating it with extreme respect in his honor. Today, I wanted to share a few traditions that we do and perhaps you could adapt for your own family. I'd also love to hear about yours :) If you're  wondering about the anchor photo to the left, it's from tradition number three. He's the old man from the Lego store but he looks like Tolkien to me!             
1. The Christmas Pickle: This is my favorite tradition and the bane of my existence as a child. If you've never seen the pickle ornament tradition, here's a summary: a pickle ornament is hung on the tree (very last) and sort of hidden. The first child to find it gets an extra present. It's supposed to be German, but I've never heard of or seen it there, so I'm guessing it's German-American or something similar. No matter where it came from, it was fun and we always had a pickle to find on the tree. Anyway, my mom comes from a large family, she's the second of 6 born girls. For a long time though (10 years) there were only three grandchildren and I was the smallest of all. I could never, ever find the pickle ornament on the tree. My older brother + cousin beat me year after year. I watched in pain as they claimed the prize. One year I cried forever (it's on camera, too) until my brother gave me the M&M filled plastic candy cane he had won. So pathetic.
Both of my grandparents are gone now but the Christmas before my grandma died, she gave me the pickle ornament. I couldn't believe how lucky I was. There are a million grandchildren, and I still don't understand why I got it- maybe she remembered my plight as a little one, but I love it. It has a prominent place on our tree and when we have children, they will certainly spend their Christmas mornings searching to be the first one to find the pickle on the tree.
2. The Nutcracker: My mom has been taking me to see the Nutcracker since I was about 8 years old. Every Christmas. This year we went to see the Joffrey Ballet perform and out of the 20+ performances we have seen, it was certainly the best. Certainly my ballerina-aspirations began in those seats watching Primas tap out The Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy. The Nutcracker is a perfect ballet for little girls who are still squirmy. It's geared toward children in both plot and costuming, even my (almost) 3 year old niece had no problem sitting still! If you're wanting to take your children to a ballet- this is the one. Just be sure to pick a matinee and if it's the first ballet- remember to sit toward an aisle if you need to make an escape.
3. NO PRESENTS! Last year we went present-free and liked it so much that we've decided to make it a tradition. I'm not suggesting that parents of young children take away Christmas presents (I can hear the sound of my inbox filling with hate mail already), but as grown adults, we didn't feel like we needed Christmas presents from our parents any longer. Instead, we take a trip together. Having lost my grandparents, all I want is more time and memories with my own parents. Life moves quickly. This year we went to Chicago and had the best time. I don't regret trading in gifts for that experience at all! In fact, being in Chicago is what allowed us to see the Joffrey Ballet perform this year. If you're grown, maybe that's something you'd like to consider doing with your family. Christmas is so much less stressful when you don't have to shop for presents and can take a relaxing vacation instead! We still get presents for the children in the family, but that is so much easier. You could always do something like zoo tickets or a sports game/museum trip/some other family fun day instead as well. An entire post could be written about this and why it was such a great idea for our family, but for now this paragraph will suffice :)
4. Christmas Party: this is my favorite tradition. Sorry for the small picture, but it was too low quality to blow up! It's from the very first Christmas party John and I had. Most people celebrate anniversaries, but for a few reasons we don't celebrate ours. Instead, we celebrate Christmas Party, which is a day dedicated to cookies, movies, music, putting up the tree, decorating and general happiness. On Christmas Party Day you can never say, "I shouldn't have another" or "is it too expensive?" because it's the *one* day each year when anything goes! It's so fun to kick off the season together each year with a super over-the-top day of goodness. We wait for it all year long, and expect it to only become even more fun when we have little ones!
We have tons of others, but these are my four favorite. Or at least, the four currently floating around at the front :)
Again, I hope your Christmas was so blessed. And if you have any traditions to share- please do!
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

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