I know some of you are going to be upset with me for skipping over Thanksgiving and already talking about Christmas but I just can't help it- it's my favorite time of the year! I love Thanksgiving too, especially getting to see all of our family and OD'ing on my grandma's chocolate pie. But Christmas...Christmas is magical. The sights and sounds of the season bring so much joy and happiness; it's hard not to love Christmas. We have lots of holiday traditions in our family, but I wanted to name a few of our favorites in case you share some of the same or are looking to start new ones of your own!
1. Christmas shopping- I know this is a tradition for most, but for us, Christmas shopping is pretty epic. We have a large family and we buy gifts for over 40 family members (not including teachers, friends, etc.)! Because of our very long list (apparently no-one in our family is ever naughty), we have to start shopping several months in advance. I need to get on the ball this year- we still have a long way to go!
2. Angel Tree- Every year since I was a little girl, I remember choosing several names from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. Bear now looks forward to this every Christmas, too. There's something so special about giving a child in need something they really want for Christmas. As an only child, Bear is used to getting all the toys for himself and it's good for him to pick out toys for other children, too.
3. Looking at lights- I love Christmas lights! My parents would always drive us around town to see all the lights, and now Zach and I carry that tradition on with Bear. Several times during the month of December, we load up in the car with blankets and hot chocolate and drive around to see the lights. Our neighborhood usually has a pretty good display; one year Zach even got so distracted by the lights that he ran into our neighborhood gate and knocked my side-view mirror off. Merry Christmas to me, $500 at Pep Boys later.
4. Christmas Eve queso- It's a tradition in our family to cheese it up on Christmas Eve night! Our family goes to my grandma's house to visit and we make a big crockpot of queso (since we just don't eat enough over the holidays). On the drive back to my parents', we always look for Rudolph and Santa's Sleigh in the sky (we've done this since I was a little girl and now Bear loves it!).
5. Seeing the mall Santa- This is a tradition that most every family has, I realize, and we are no exception. I love putting Bear up on the big guy's lap to snap a picture of his priceless face. Bear smiled last year- hoping he does just as well this year!
6. Delivering treats to neighbors- You've probably picked up on the fact that we love to bake around here and with only three of us, we always have lots left over! One weekend in December, we'll have a big cookie/bread baking day and then deliver packaged up treats to our neighbors and friends. Bear loves walking around and hand-delivering goodies and it's always special to see the happy looks on peoples' faces when they're surprised with warm cookies.
7. Singing carols- Every year on Christmas night, my whole family gathers around the living room to sing Christmas carols. This is probably my favorite tradition of all, as we've been doing it for as long as I can remember and it makes my heart so happy to look around the room at my grandparents, parents, cousins, brothers, and now Zach & Bear. Zach doesn't love this tradition as he's not much on singing (he usually hides in the corner), but the rest of the family really belts it out :). My Mom & cousin will play the piano and my brother accompanies us on the guitar, but Silent Night is always sung last, acapella. When we finish singing, my grandfather reads the story of the birth of baby Jesus from Luke Chapter 2 in the Bible. No matter how many presents are passed around or verses of Frosty the Snowman are sung, we never want to forget the true meaning of Christmas.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? I'd love to hear!