Now that Noah is getting to an age to begin our own family Christmas traditions, it makes me think of the things that stood out from when I was a kid. My parents divorced when I was 7, so as I got older our traditions evolved to suit two households, two different parents, and later, two very different adolescent girls, who are really good at rebelling against all things family related (on that note: parents, give yourself a hug for even making it though the holidays with teenagers; I am not looking forward to this stage). There are a few things that still stand out in my memory though.
~ Cookies and milk for Santa. Every year. This was like a religion. It must be done. Can't leave the big man hanging.
~ Decorating the tree with the family. We always had tons of old ornaments, many with stories behind them. This was usually followed by dancing around the house wearing the tree skirt.
~ Snow. If we hadn't retreated to our cabin in the mountains for Christmas, we'd make it there by New Years. I still to this day have issues spending the holidays somewhere without snow.
~ "Adopting a child for Christmas". My family, along with many other volunteers, would be paired with a child, or sometimes siblings or a pair of friends. The families would then take the kids Christmas shopping for anything from basic needs like shoes or coats to toys and even Christmas gifts for their own families. This would be followed by all the families and children involved meeting at a hall for a big Spaghetti dinner where Santa would make a guest appearance at the end.
~The Nutcracker Ballet. I think the best performance was when my sister was about 4 and wandered up the steps of the stage to dance along with the performers.
This year, we took Noah to cut down his first Christmas tree (we were moving during Christmas last year, so our "tree" was just a house plant with lights). I hope this is the beginning of a new tradition for our family along with baking cookies, going to see the big tree downtown , "It's a Wonderful Life", snowshoeing, and more still to come. Who knows, maybe we'll jump on the "elf on a shelf" bandwagon - though they are kinda creepy...
There are are endless possibilities. Thats what makes it so fun and special though. You can make up new traditions as you go along, tweak them, make them your own. Every family's go-to traditions will look different. It's unique to each family and each member of that family. We choose to celebrate in whatever form reminds us that we are united in love. We choose to celebrate by doing whatever speaks truest to our heart.
So whatever it is, celebrate during the holidays. Celebrate family and friends. Celebrate love and compassion and generosity and merriness and fresh starts. Celebrate the light. Celebrate the world.