Every time someone would ask us about our Christmas plans we would say, “We’re staying here – and we’re so happy about it!” As much as Noel and I love our families, we truly despise traveling this time of year (see Top Ten Worst Moments of last year’s Christmas) and are also enjoying figuring out our own traditions. Growing up, my family had a lot of Christmas traditions while Noel’s family wasn’t as committed to specific ways of doing things (except for the Santa thing, which we’ve disappointingly shunned – sorry Glenna!). At first these different backgrounds caused us to clash as I insisted we must choose and then instate our amazing traditions immediately and Noel countered that traditions are the things that stick after you’ve tried a bunch of different things. In the end, this combination is turning out to be a great one as I’ve relaxed about “trying on” traditions and Noel has joined my effort to curate our Christmas experiences.
Up until this year, Santa’s “existence” was something our children were surprisingly unexposed to, but this year suddenly everyone was asking the kids, “What is Santa bringing you for Christmas?” which provided me with the opportunity to have several awkward, yet discrete (I promise I’m not trying to blow this for anyone else), conversations about how while we do celebrate Christmas, we don’t do Santa.* People were generally polite, but confused about this news. Their faces were priceless as I could see how puzzled they were. How can you even celebrate Christmas without Santa? I think because it suddenly seemed like there was a huge gap in our Christmas celebrations, I felt a resurgent push to make sure our kids knew what Christmas was all about. Noel and I spent a long time pondering how to make Christmas special, but Christ-centered. When a gift from Noel’s sister, Danielle, arrived at our house with a 25 Days of Christ ornament advent we felt like we’d found our answer. The kids really enjoyed watching the Bible movie videos and putting the ornaments on the tree; I think this will be a tradition that sticks.
Another tradition we tried was going snowshoeing on Christmas day. We are all outdoors lovers which makes winter a bit depressing and we thought getting outside might make the holidays brighter for us. The actual implementation was a little less than desirable. We thought the kids would do better if we fed them right before, so we grilled hotdogs at a snowy campground. The kids had a great time, but when it came time to snowshoe they were already done. Less than 100 yards into the trail Ellen laid down in the snow and bawled. We returned back to the car shortly thereafter. A few days later we tried snowshoeing again with some changes (early morning after a good breakfast at home) and successfully went an impressive 3/4 of a mile before any significant meltdowns. (Seriously though, this is a snowshoeing record for our family.)
We tried out a couple of other traditions like the kids getting each other gifts (they each independently chose a potato head), singing carols around the piano, making cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and driving around to look at Christmas lights. In the end, we were able to review and discuss things we liked, didn’t like, and would like to try in the future.
*While our kids don’t believe in Santa, they do believe in the mailman: the kind old gentleman that brings packages and whose magical truck can be seen everywhere. We buy a lot of things from Amazon and the kids always give the mailman credit, not us.