Like many families, we—Bret’s parents, my parents and our little family of five—have lots of family traditions or habits. Let me just share a sampling with you.
One, my mother-in-law likes to buy everyone in the family special flannel pajamas, which we open on Christmas Eve, don immediately and wear all Christmas morning, as well. I remember a few pair with affection (read: agony), like the ones sporting pink flamingos. My favorites were the “boring” red plaid ones; I still have those. (Not so much on the pink flamingos.)
Two, our immediate family has a special tradition that became a habit for several years. I heard the idea while I was pregnant with Charlie, our first. A friend from our Sunday school class said their family always visited a Christmas tree farm to buy their tree. They made a day of it, going on a hayride and sipping hot chocolate or cider. After they arrived home and set up the great-smelling tree, they camped out underneath it that very first night. Like them, we made a couple of trips to the tree farm, then eventually shortened the tradition to a local tree lot or, closer still, Home Depot. After carting the tree home and settling it on the base, we strung the lights, spread out our sleeping bags under the tree and snuggled close as a family.
Hint: Once the kids fell asleep, Bret and I sneaked off the comfort of our own bed. The kids never knew!
Three, this is a wonderful tip—that I tweaked slightly—from my mother-in-law. Early in our marriage, Bret and I spent Christmas at his parents’ home. As she pointed out ornaments on her exquisite tree, she shared stories—where she’d bought them, who had made them, why they were special—about each one. She said she had made it a point to buy a meaningful ornament for each of her children every year. Her intention had always been to give this collection to the boys when they left home and established their own families; however, when push came to shove, she just couldn’t do it. (I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t have given them to the boys at age 18, either!)
My solution? I buy two of each ornament. That way, I’m collecting ornaments for the kids, but I get to keep my own set when they leave home! I always try to choose something that marks a milestone of my child’s life that year. For example, I’ve bought ornaments to remind us of the year Reese learned how to read, the year Molly took dance, and the year Charlie got his driver’s license. Using a fine point Sharpie marker, I write basic information on the back or bottom of the ornament: the child’s name, the year, and the relevant milestone it represents. For example, this year I got my daughter, Molly, an ornament to remind her of fun times working at Joe Willy’s, the local burger hangout.
Now it’s your turn. I hope you’ll share one of your favorite Christmas traditions.