I've been focusing on ways I can make the holidays a special time for our family. In addition to some of the traditions that I grew up with, I'm also wanting to create new ones that our boys will look forward to each year.
Here are some that we will definitely be adopting:
Countdown to Christmas ~
My boys love books. Always have. So what better way to count down the days until the jolly old elf's arrival. After spending way too much money on 23 different holiday-themed books (obviously an oversight on my part when I decided this was a good idea...I mean really...even at just $4.99 a pop, multiply that by 23 and that's a heck of a lot of money!), I wrapped each one individually and put them in a tin bucket on the fireplace. Each night, we will unwrap a book and read it together as a family. The last one, for Christmas Eve, will be what else "Twas' The Night Before Christmas".
Matching jammies ~ Yes, my boys will be those kids. The ones whose mom makes them wear coordinating Christmas pajamas each and every year. They will be getting them from St. Nick. And they will like it.
Christmas cookies and holiday cheer ~ This is one I grew up with and hope to continue with my own family. We used to make those little green blobs of cornflakes, marshmallows and red sprinkles also known as "holly cookies". Mmmmmm. And I cannot resist inhaling multiple "kiss cookies" around the month of December. As much as I love them, you would think I would make them year round, but I don't. I save the sugary, chocolatey goodness for the holidays. I usually get so excited to make them that I make WAY too many - which works out perfectly since I enjoy bringing a plate of homemade cookies to our neighbors around Christmastime.
Irish soad bread ~ My late grandmother's original recipe + golden raisins + a bunch of other stuff = a warm little slice of heaven every Christmas morning. My husband loves it too. My kids, not so much. But I can remember not being very fond of it when I was little either. They'll come around. And if they don't...oh well. More for me.
The gift of giving ~ In our day and age it is easy to get wrapped up in material things. Especially around the holidays when the media is infiltrating our brains with the season's "must haves" and "can't live withouts". Even at the tender age of 2, Ethan has a very specific request for Santa...he wants the Handy Manny tool bench. But Santa doesn't think that a 2 year old needs a gift that costs $89.99 just because Disney decided to air the commercial over and over again in the mornings when Ethan so happens to be watching their shows.
We know we are very fortunate to be able to put away some money each year to spend on our loved ones for Christmas gifts. We also know that not everyone is as fortunate. First and foremost, we want to teach our kids that the holiday should be more about Christ's birth than it should be about toys under the tree. At the same time, we want to instill in them the gift of giving. Every year we will go through the toys in our ever so stocked toy room (and family room, and the kids bedrooms...) and have them pick several items that we will donate to a charity that gives them to families who may not be able to afford holiday shopping. I want to be able to provide everything I can and more to my children. They deserve it. But other kids are no less deserving. And my kids will know that. And be humble about what they have.
Traditions are those special things that you carry on in your life year after year. They help you remember the good times. The warm and fuzzy moments that are so wonderful that you want to pass on that same warm and fuzzy feeling to your own family. I look forward to developing new traditions - not just at Christmas - but each and every day.