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It’s hard to believe that Halloween is over. In fact, the entire month of October is a complete blur to me. We went on vacation, I’ve been busy with photography and gearing up my Etsy shop for the busy holiday season. Although November hit like a hurricane, this is the time of year where I am most thankful for the small, but fun traditions we hold.
The first of my favorite traditions is putting up our Christmas decor. We try to make this into a family event but usually the kids get cold within 5 minutes of doing the outdoor lighting and my husband and I run around like crazy people trying to get stuff done while the kids drink hot chocolate. Every year I tell myself I’m going to pack all of the decorations in a nice, organized manner but in reality they get shoved into boxes a few days after Christmas so that we can celebrate my daughter’s birthday without an ounce of the holiday in sight. When your birthday is 4 days after Christmas, you get a little ripped off in the celebrations department.
One thing I do take time to enjoy is hanging our ornaments. Last year we started a new tradition by having 2 family trees- one “pretty one” for my sanity (I really like things to look as nice and organized as possible) and another FULL of all our “fun” ornaments. These include decorations all the way back to my husband and I’s baby ornaments. We even have ornaments we made for our parents as preschoolers on our “crazy” tree- the kids love to see those! It’s so special to be able to relive some of those memories as we place each ornament on the tree.
I think one of our sweetest traditions is my kids’ trees. Each of them have a white tree in their room that their Grandma gave them. It started the year I was pregnant with my daughter and on bed rest. She was due January 1st and I was not allowed to decorate or put up a tree, plus I knew we wouldn’t feel like taking everything down with a newborn in the house. My mother-in-law would have none of that and marched herself over to our townhouse with a small white tree and all pink ornaments to put by our fire place. That tree gave me a lot of joy as I spent the last days of pregnancy sitting on the couch not able to move. We’ve added a special ornament to her tree every year since she’s been born and, of course, had to get my son his own tree when he was born.
By far my kids’ favorite tradition is the arrival of our Scout Elf, Buddy. He comes back to stay with us every year on the day after Thanksgiving and we spend every day there after wondering what he’ll do next. You guys. If you don’t already have an Elf in your house this tradition is a MUST with young kids. Even at almost 5 and almost 8, my kids are obsessed with Buddy and ask about him all year long. Sometimes it’s just a random summer day and they’ll say “I wonder what Buddy is doing at the North Pole” or “I bet Buddy is having fun on his day off”. I just love to watch this Christmas magic through the eyes of my kids- we laugh all month long over Buddy and his shenanigans.
Buddy does some crazy things at our house (check out #ScoutElfIdeas for some of the situations these Elves put themselves in- some of them are hilarious! Also- our friends at The Elf on a Shelf have an app for this ) but one thing he’s done since the first year he stayed with us was decorate with paper snowflakes. This gets more and more intense as the years go by and he even left a note for my kids to help him cut out snowflakes last year.
We left them by the fireplace and they woke up the next morning with snowflakes hanging everywhere. What you don’t see in the photo below is all of them hanging from our ceiling (this was actually taken New Year’s Day as evidence by the head bands). One year the snow stayed up until April because the kids were so sad to take down that last piece of Buddy’s “gift” to them. Plus we lived in Michigan and it was still snowing in April…it felt right to keep it up as long as it was cold. Ha!
Something I remember doing as a kid was driving around at night to look at all the Christmas lights. We are still fairly new in our community and don’t really know the best neighborhoods for viewing, but one of the local food factories has a beautiful display that we were happy to discover last year.
My kids love the idea of Santa, but have never really enjoyed meeting him. I think they get nervous and just don’t know what to say. Last year was our first time meeting Santa in our neighborhood- he comes on the fire truck and makes stops throughout with candy canes in tow. Both kids were totally into it last year- I don’t know if it was the fire truck or just the familiarity of being right out our front door but both of them talked his ear off and gave him quite the wish list. This year they are excited about his visit and they can’t wait to get started on their letters to him. The Elf on The Shelf has a new “Letters to Santa” kit that we are going to bust out with some of their neighborhood friends to get ready for this year’s visit. More on that in a few weeks but I can already tell this is going to be another fun tradition to add to our holiday season.
Santa arriving via fire truck out our front door is pretty hard to beat, but the yearly building of a gingerbread house is always another kid favorite activity. My husband’s work actually puts on a small event and this is part of the craft time they offer. We end up making a huge mess (that’s OK- I don’t have to clean it up!) and Jack ends up with a belly ache because he eats more than he builds. The house normally lasts an hour on the counter before I start to notice pieces going missing. It’s hilarious to be cooking in the kitchen and see a little hand sneak up from the other side of the counter to grab a gum drop. They think they are so sneaky but that’s OK…Buddy is watching. 😉
Of course traditions are best spent with family. I have so many amazing memories of Christmas growing up- from eating around a ping pong table in my Great Grandparent’s basement to sitting with my cousins and making obnoxious jokes about my Grandma’s kitchen decor signs. We live half way across the country from the majority of our families now, my Christmas memories are nothing that my kids will probably ever witness. But we have our own traditions and we love having family over to our house during the holidays. Last year my kids decided to host their own holiday party on Christmas. They set up a tiny table and chairs in my office, got out paper plates and gobs of Cheez-It crackers and candy (seriously look closely at the picture- we are “cheers”-ing with Cheez-Its LOL). We laughed so hard and the kids thought it was the best party ever.
Whew! We have a lot of things going on in the “holiday tradition” category. I honestly didn’t realize how much we do between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m thankful for each and one of these sweet traditions and the time they allow us to spend together. What do your families do to celebrate the holidays? Do your favorite traditions match your kids’ favorites?
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