Saturday, November 22, 2014

Christmas Tradtions from the Smith Family

It's that time of year again as Christmas draws closer, decorations begin to go up and shopping malls are packed to capacity. I thought I would take a moment and share some of our families Christmas traditions with you and hope you might share some of yours with me.

Because the month of December and Christmas in general is my favorite time of the year, I can't wait to get all my Christmas decorations up. I have been collecting them since my mom worked at Hallmark years ago and now with yard and garage sales being so plentiful, I am still scoring more to my collection every year.

In fact, I try to get my house ready before Thanksgiving, much to the disappointment of my youngest daughter Kailee who believes that Thanksgiving is being sadly overlooked. But honestly, who decorates their home for Thanksgiving? Sure I have fall decorations but those go up before the end of September and stay up til the Christmas ones come out.

Most of the time, it's just me and Steve putting up all the decorations, pulling tubs out from our storage shed and hauling them into the house, where we plug things in to make sure that they work before putting up garland, bows, and lots of antiques I've found through many of my searches.

The one thing we hold off doing until the entire family is here is decorating our Christmas tree. We take the time to go through all our ornaments and remember those special times in our kids lives or even our own as each ornament tells its own story. In fact that is a tradition in our home. Each year, the kids pick one ornament that identifies a year in their life. It might deal with sports, a career, an interest but something they feel represents them.

We write their names on the bottom so that one day when they move out and get their own homes going, they have a pretty good starter collection going.

Another tradition, like most, is baking cookies. Each year I have vowed to reduce the numbers of varieties I bake, but usually end up making them all. Caitlyn's favorites have been magic bars, Steve's are Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls and Kailee's are Candy Canes.

Even my brother Mike, has his favorite, Spiced Pecans. I make a huge batch for him each year, and make sure he has them.

I make sugar cookies and wait for a time when all of us are together again, and we have a Christmas Cookie decorating contest, with the winner getting a $10 gift card of their choice based on votes from our Facebook posts and comments telling us which one they think is the best. 

Another tradition is visiting the Christmas lights in Alta Loma. My husband Steve, grew up there and it has been something he has done as part of his families tradition, plus he knows just how to get there and find the best places to park.

We usually rent a SUV or mini van to take whomever wants to come, and we all head out.

I give the kids each $5 to support the families who put on the event to buy a cup of hot chocolate or soft pretzel while we take part walking around and enjoying the display.

We even try to take a picture to make it a memorable event.

One of the Christmas traditions, my husband brought with him that we started in our new family is painting of plaster houses. We try and get each person to paint at least one to add to our growing collection each year.

We sign and date them and once again, when the kids move out, those will go with them as well. They have grown so much over the year with friends of the kids painting them that we are struggling to find a place to put them.

On Christmas Eve night, the kids each open a gift, even though they aren't really kids any longer. They already know what it will be, a set of pajamas to wear either to bed or for Christmas morning. When the kids were much younger, I used to include a Christmas book to be enjoyed that night before bed. We usually order dinner out that night because we know we'll be cooking all day on Christmas Day. We top it off with a movie or two from our Christmas movie collection.

Christmas Day is savored because it is over too soon. Coffee is made, music is ready and playing and Steve and I are usually showered and ready before waking our kids up. Now that they are older, there is no rush to wake up early.

We all take our time and do stockings first, each person revealing with they have, while I diligently write it all down, because no one can remember what they got from one year to the next.

Then we move on to presents and we each take the time to watch each person open their gifts.

Once the gifts are opened, showers begin while breakfast is being made. Phone calls go out to family that are home celebrating their own Christmas'. We generally watch Christmas movies all day long with each family member picking their all time favorite movie for us all to watch. They change ever year. Dinner preparations begin early with each person requesting different things. Steve has to have beets (yuck on my end), Kailee needs sparkling apple cider, Caitlyn wants Deviled Eggs, and I love stuffing. We make sure that we have plenty of fixings so that Caitlyn can take left overs home for a few days. We make turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes, corn, green beans with bacon, biscuits with honey and butter, deviled eggs, and for dessert either apple or harvest pie, a blend of cheesecake and pumpkin pie.

That is how the Smith family celebrates Christmas, what traditions does your family incorporate that have been passed down through generations? I'd love to hear.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I love your traditions! One of the traditions that my family has got started one year when everyone was sick. No one felt like doing any cooking, so we got fast food on Christmas Eve. Even though my sons are grown up, and Christmas has to be planned around their separate lives, I still hear about burgers on the night before Christmas!!

This year I'm quite excited that my entire extended family is going to be together! It will be especially meaningful since my dad passed away just this past January.

In the meantime, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!