Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas Traditions.....

Dean and I have been talking about what Christmas traditions we want Zane to have. We always put up all our decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. And then ofcourse you have going to look at Christmas lights. The one that we both had was getting to open one gift on Christmas Eve.  It was also tradition in our house to watch the Grinch on Christmas Eve night. You also have the whole making cookies for Santa. My question to everyone is what Christmas traditions do you have??   Here are some Christmas traditions that I've ran across... 


Remember the Animals...  
Legend has it that on Christmas Eve, all animals are granted the ability to speak until daybreak. While the following tradition doesn't guarantee you a verbal thank-you from the neighborhood wildlife, it's a nice way to treat your animal friends when food is scarce. 

You don't need to be elaborate--putting out birdseed or peanut-butter sandwiches for the squirrels will suffice. But for a truly lovely twist, you can take a cue from the Waterman family of St. Charles, Missouri. Inspired by Eve Bunting's book Night Tree, the Watermans get together each year with friends and family and trek into the woods to decorate a tree for the animals. The evening begins at home, with the preparation of appropriate goodies: pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, popcorn and cranberry garlands, orange and apple slices suspended from pipe cleaners. Once the feast is complete, the assembled throng bundles up and heads out into the night. Tree-decking is followed by sharing hot chocolate, holiday cookies and Christmas carols


Create a Photo Ornament...

For most families, ornaments are more than decorations; they're memories in miniature. Especially the homemade creations, whose cockeyed charm so perfectly captures the creativity of your child at a particular moment in time.

This year, why not take the idea a step further and let your kids put a little bit of themselves into the decorations--literally. Each child gets to choose a photo of himself or herself to incorporate into an ornament, which can be as simple as a Popsicle-stick frame or as sophisticated as a decoupaged Styrofoam ball. The only requirement is that the finished product reflect the personality of its maker (and include the year in which it was made). Your kids will have fun comparing their faces over the years, and you'll love seeing your tree transformed into a virtual family album.


Surprise a Public Servant...

It may shock your kids to learn that not everyone gets to take time off around the holidays. Firefighters, police officers and many other public servants give up their holidays to make sure that ours are safe and happy. The Kelner family of Muskegon, Michigan, decided to give back something to all these good-hearted folks, so for the past several years they've gathered holiday cookies and other treats to bring to the local fire station on Christmas Eve. The first year, they were surprised to find only one firefighter on duty; he was so thrilled to see them, he invited them in to share the feast. For the Kelners, that one small act of generosity turned out to be the highlight of the Christmas season.

If your family would like to play Surprise Santa, start by contacting someone in local government (town hall is usually a good place to begin) to find out where to go. But make sure your visit stays a secret--the element of stealth adds a little extra zip to your act of holiday charity.



Cure the Postholiday Blues...

If my daughter ran the world, it would be illegal to take button stockingdown the Christmas tree before summer. And while I sometimes greet the end of the holidays with relief, I can't help feeling a little sad when that last ornament is packed away. So, I was thrilled when a friend shared her family's method for banishing the postholiday blues.

Every year, usually on January 6 (the Feast of the Epiphany and the end of the traditional 12 days of Christmas), her family has a quiet supper before taking down the tree. Beside each plate is a small package holding a single button, which has been chosen for its significance to the recipient: a flower button for a gardener, an anchor for a sailing fan and so on. Each person sews the new button on his or her stocking before packing it away until next year. My friend marvels that her kids are as excited to unwrap their buttons as they are to tear through the packages on Christmas.

FAMILYFUN TIP: For unusual buttons, try thrift shops or specialty suppliers, as well as www.dressitup.com.



Giving to Others... 

Christmas is ultimately about giving. This is a great time to give to others, especially those who might otherwise go without.

There are many ways to sponsor a needy family for Christmas. Most churches know of families in need of help. Make arrangements to anonymously provide a family with groceries and appropriate presents through the church.

Many organizations collect gifts to distribute. Whether it is Project Angel Tree or Toys for Tots, you will know your gift is going to a child in need during the Christmas season.




Thank a Soldier...  

My youngest son came up with a great idea for a Thanksgiving tradition. He knew our neighbor's middle son was in the military and once the U.S. became involved in Iraq, he realized everything that our soldiers do for us. My son's suggestion was that each person at our Thanksgiving celebration write a thank you letter to someone in the military. I thought it was a fantastic idea, so I tracked down addresses for some of our local servicemen. And for the last five years or so, each person at our Thanksgiving celebration is given a pen and paper to write a letter during the evening. It's a special and thoughtful tradition that makes us realize how important our troops are and takes the time to let them know what they mean to us.



Elf Night...  

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my three daughters celebrate"elf night"! 
When they were very small, I told them that the first Friday in December was "Elf Night". That was the night that they had to leave their final letters to Santa, and the elf would come by when they were sleeping and take the letters and give them to Santa. 
The "elf" always took the letters and left something small for each of the girls---a candy cane, a coloring book and crayons, or a storybook. It was my way of finding out for sure just what each of them really wanted, plus it added a little bit of excitement for them while waiting for Christmas to get here.



Christmas Auction...

Instead of getting gifts for each other, all of the adults in my family participate in our Christmas Auction. 

Each person brings a few small gifts or handmade items. We lay all of the items out and number them. 
Everyone gets the same amount of "Santa Bucks" - usually 20 or 30 depending on how many items there are to bid on. 
We take about 30 minutes to check out all of the items and write down what we want to bid on each one. When everyone has their bids ready, my mom "auctions" off each item. 
It is so much fun to see what item will be "hot" every year. We usually have a mystery gift 
(wrapped) to bid on. Some years it is a gift certificate and some years it is a gag gift. 
Christmas wouldn't be the same without the auction!

another option....Each family member brings a gift bag with an item. Our limit is $1 per bag (think Dollar Tree). We bid blindly on each bag which must be opened when won. Sometimes it suits the person, but a lot more fun when it doesn't suit them at all. Some trading goes on afterwards for sure.


Ok... so let's hear it.... what are your Christmas traditions?!?!?!



1 comment:

Darlene said...

No big traditions here. We go see Christmas Lights, make cookies, decorate a gingerbread house...pretty much the norm. I do want to add going to Kuhn Flowers and seeing their window display this year. We used to do that when I was young.