While waiting in line at HEB today, I snagged my favorite issue of Real Simple magazine. I am obsessed with their Christmas issue. Not only does it give beautiful ideas for decorating, but it has amazing gift ideas and stocking stuffer ideas, which if you’re like me you have trouble with. Filling that damn stocking is hard! I now have quite a few gift ideas for various people, but mostly for David and Christina.
Anyway, this had me thinking of traditions. I wouldn’t say that I have any particular memories of any traditions in my family, but I do have great memories. It all starts with the tree for me. My mom made all of these ornaments, as in she painted them or crafted them, and I loved them all. I remember the mice ones vividly for some reason. We never had anything super matchy-matchy; our ornaments were just completely random. We did colored lights and garland. My mom had this snowy village that she would put out, and all of the houses had a lightbulb inside so it looked like whatever tiny people lived in them were home. My dad put up a Nativity scene and a train set around the tree. I loved the train, and would play with it for hours and hours, and sometimes he would even play with me. Probably he just sat there with that parental fascination, that I now know so well, as he listened to the stories my imagination created. We opened one gift on Christmas Eve and set out cookies for Santa. (To this day I even make Pam and George let us open one gift on Christmas Eve.) Erin and I (and sometimes Syra depending on what day we celebrated together) would open our presents in our pajamas looking all crappy while dad snapped pictures of us in all our awkward glory. The funny thing is I remember so many things but I really don’t remember many of the gifts, which I guess should really be the goal of any parent.
Reflecting on my childhood has really made me think about the traditions I want to start with David for Hazel. Buying an ornament every year is a must. Right now we subscribe to the “vintage” tree with a jumble of “vintage” looking ornaments. I say vintage because we have colored bulb lights with old fashioned ornaments that remind me of the real glass kind from my dad’s childhood. There is a great section in Real Simple where readers send in their favorite traditions, and I’m going to share my favorites here with all of you, in case you too are looking to add more memories to your holidays.
“In my family, everyone puts money on the table on Christmas Eve. If you’re little, it’s just a dollar; my grandfather used to put down a $50 bill. We have fun being together and opening presents all night, leaving the table a mess. The first person to wake up the next morning and clean it all up gets the cash!”
“Why should stockings sit empty all month? Once ours are hung in late November, we use them like little mailboxes, leaving each other silly notes and treats in the weeks leading up to Christmas.”
“I love this idea if your extended family can’t celebrate together: Create a family hashtag, so that you can do a quick search to see all the moments captured in each location.”
“Friends of mine do a week-before-Christmas countdown by wrapping seven books and putting them under the tree. Each night, they have their kids choose one to unwrap and read before the big day.”
Do you have any cool traditions to share?