Growing up there were things we always did on holidays. Places we would go. Things we would see. We never had to ask, we just knew we would be going or doing these things. I didn’t know it then, but these were our traditions. Some traditions were ones my mom did when she was growing up and some were new ones created just for us. I never thought much about them until I had kids of my own. We now have some of the same traditions, some of our own, and new ones we’re starting.
Seeing Christmas lights. I remember loading up in the care at night and driving around to find Christmas lights. I don’t know if mom just knew where all the best light are, scouted them out, or just got lucky. It was one of my favorite things. All the pretty lights sparkling and changing the way the houses looked. It felt so magical seeing everything lit up. This is a tradition I continued for my kids. We load up the car and drive up and down the streets looking at all the displays. Slowing down to give the kids time to take it all in. Watching their faces light up with excitement. It’s even better as a parent. Hearing the ‘woahs’, mom look at that house, and watching their faces light up. I love everything about it.
Storybook Land. Storybook Land is a free yearly thing in Oregon that happens every December. It started in 1977 and continues today. It’s a place you can walk through and see displays from storybooks, movies, train sets, and so much more ending with the kids getting to see Santa and get their picture taken. Although it is free, they encourage canned food donations to help the local community. I remember going every year growing up. Seeing all my favorite characters from my favorite movies, books, and fairytales. Watching it grow as new scenes are added. We kept this tradition with our kids. Every year we go walk through looking at everything, taking pictures in the cutouts, and the kids telling Santa what they want for Christmas. Watching my favorite displays still standing as they continue to improve or update them and add displays from new movies. There’s always fun to be had and new things to see.
Candy cane reindeer. I remember my mom making these every chance she got. I thought it was just a fun thing she found somewhere, but a few years ago I found out that my great grandma Cross used to make them for Sunday school. So this is a long standing tradition in my family. I always loved them, so of course I would carry on the tradition with my kids. I started making them for my son’s classes when he was in preschool. I’ve been making them every year for 10 years now, except only for my daughters class now. My son went to middle school and it’s not cool to hand out candy cane reindeer. I don’t keep them traditional with red and white striped candy cane and red nose. We change it up with different colored candy canes and different colored noses. I’ll be sad when this tradition ends for me. They’re a pain in the butt sometimes, but so much fun.
Then there are some traditions we started after we had our kids. Not too many as the holidays are already crazy busy, but they’re our own.
A Christmas Story. This movie is hands down by far my favorite Christmas movie. I’ve loved it for as long as I could remember. If my husband would let me have a leg lamp, you bet I’d have that bad boy lit up right in the front window for everyone to see. Since I can remember I’ve watched it every Christmas Eve. Once I had kids they started watching it with me. Now it’s become a tradition for us to watch it together on Christmas Eve. Christmas really wouldn’t feel like Christmas without watching A Christmas Story.
Elf on the shelf. The elf on the shelf became a new tradition for us last year. My kids, especially my daughter fell in love and named her Snowflake. In our house the lf on the shelf is here to make sure the kids are being good and to have fun, NOT cause mischief. Once my daughter fell head over hills for her elf, it was game over. I knew it’d be a tradition we would stick with until it was no longer fun or exciting for her anymore. Until then, Snowflake will hang underwear from the tree, draw funny faces on pictures, play hide n’ seek, and make new toy friends.
None of these traditions are something we have to do. Christmas will still come without them, it just wouldn’t be the same. Some are traditions done because that’s the way it’s always been. As if it’s just a December routine. THe important things are the memories these traditions make. Remembering how excited I was to see Christmas lights, go to Storybook Land, handing out candy cane reindeer to the class, or watching A Christmas Story. I want my kids to have that. I want them to remember it all and how it felt. Remember the excitement and carry that on with their future families.