Thursday, December 15, 2016

Our Christmas traditions

My husband and I grew up with different holiday traditions, so when we were getting ready for our first Christmas as a married couple, I remember one of the biggest differences was when gifts would be open. Do we stay up late
on Christmas Eve to open gifts or do we wake up early on Christmas morning? So many memories are associated with traditions that it's hard to let go, change, or adjust them.

Even though we are only going on our fourth Christmas together, we've found that we've had to be flexible with Christmas celebrations, since we have family in two different cities, and we live in a different city. At times we've had to improvise, but we always make an effort to keep and create traditions we feel are either fun or meaningful. I thought I'd share a few of our favorite traditions and why they're important to us.

Buying one ornament that encapsulates the year or a favorite memory from that year

I enjoy this tradition, because it creates a storybook of memories every time we unwrap our ornaments. For our first year, we bought a gold maple leaf ornament from Montreal to represent our honeymoon in Canada. The second year wasn't too exciting, but we picked out the letter "P", to represent our last name. Last year we picked out ice skates as our ornament, because it reminded us of our anniversary trip to Chicago, where we went ice skating in Millenium Park. This year's ornament is still pending. :)

Baking vanillekipferl cookies

This is a fun tradition, but it is also a meaningful tradition, as it reminds me of my mother, who used to make them with my siblings and me every Christmas. After she had passed away, we didn't have the recipe to make them, but a few years ago, I found a similar recipe and have reinstated them as a tradition. Not to mention they leave your hands smelling like vanilla and powdered sugar. :)

Reading the birth story of Jesus Christ 

It's important for us, as a family, to reflect on the birth of Christ and to teach the importance of it to our niece and nephews. Because it can be hard to keep them engaged (they're little!) we've started reading the children's version the last couple of years before opening up presents.

Opening gifts on the evening of  Christmas Eve

Opening gifts on Christmas Eve is a tradition influenced by my mother's German side. But because my brother's wife and my husband grew up opening gifts on Christmas day, we try to stay up as close to midnight as possible before opening gifts. It's sort of our fun way of celebrating both traditions. We also save a few gifts or our stockings for Christmas morning.

Creating a giving advent calendar

This is our first year, so it doesn't count as a tradition, but it is something we want to do every year— to remember to make this season one of blessing others. Each day is either filled with chocolate or a task that involves giving, such as writing a letter, paying for the car order behind us at the Starbucks drive through, donating to a non-profit, sending small wintry bouquets to a hospital, giving to those in need, or baking for friends.


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