Christmas with little kids becomes a whole different craziness. Of course, I remember the Christmases of my past. I’m pretty positive my sister and I made them crazy in their own right. But now as a parent with young children, I have such a greater admiration for my parents and how they dealt with trying to make such wonderful memories for their kids.
For us, it all starts the weekend after Thanksgiving. We have to get our Christmas decorations out and tree up then so we have time to enjoy it before it comes down right after Christmas. Since Cooper’s birthday is so soon after the new year, we try to make it its own event by putting Christmas behind us and moving on to celebrate him. So by putting up our decor right after Thanksgiving, we get a full month of the fun before stuffing it back in the attic for a year. And let me tell you… we LOVE Christmas around here.
Soon after Thanksgiving, we start the Advent Calendar. Currently this is the highlight of Mason’s mornings. For the first week, she had put each ornament on the tree herself before anyone else had woken up. We had to have a little talk about it being a special moment and that the whole family would like to participate if possible.
Once the countdown to Christmas starts, we get a visit by one of Santa’s reindeer, Chestnut. Chestnut’s job is to watch over us and report back to Santa at the North Pole each night on whether we have been naughty or nice. (I think he is friends with the Elf on the Shelf.) Each morning that he returns, Chestnut picks a different spot from which to watch. It is a game for the kids to find where he is when they wake up.
Of course, mixed into the family’s Christmas traditions is my own little tradition of the Annual Cookie Swap. Next year will be the fifth year, and I’m already counting down the days. It is truly one of my favorite traditions.
We also try to make it down to Raleigh every December to visit with my dad’s brothers and their families. If we do make it down, we have a gingerbread house contest and white elephant gift exchange. The hilarity that ensues is always worth the drive! And craziness abounds since there are now 4 young children!
When it does finally become Christmas Eve and Christmas, even more traditions come out. Because of my family tradition of a big Christmas Eve dinner and Jeremy’s family tradition of a Christmas Day dinner, we’ve kept it that way. That is to say we spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family and then do Christmas Day with the in-laws. This year was a bit different because of Aunt Kristin’s plans, but we made it work, and everyone was happy.
Our traditional Christmas Eve meal is usually turkey and other “Thanksgiving” type stuff. (In other years, we’ve done Christmas fajitas, which is pretty yummy too – seasonally appropriate with green and red peppers, of course!) This year we were at my mom’s, and it was wonderful.
After dinner, we get to each open one present. It’s always fun to see what each person picks. Then we fill our plate of cookies for Santa, pour him a glass of milk, and put some carrots out for the reindeer. Then, as is probably tradition with many families, we read “The Night Before Christmas.” I am lucky to still have the book from my childhood that my dad read to us every Christmas. I now use that book to read to my own kids.
Finally off to bed. Then early to rise the next morning to see what Santa brought! Did Chestnut give us a glowing review? Did Santa think we were naughty or nice? So many questions…