Christmas and holiday time mean so many different things to everyone. Some people love it and look forward to it each year, while others face it with dread and stress. Like many others, I land somewhere right in the middle. I adore the holidays, but right as they approach I remember that there are no magical elves, and (cover the kids’ eyes) there is no Santa. It’s just me with a long to-do list, and that can feel daunting. Despite all the errands and tasks, a conversation with a friend inspired my reflection on what Christmas means to me, and it brought up so many great memories.
A Fond Look Back
One of my fondest childhood memories is something my parents started that I still do today. Growing up in my parents’ home, my siblings and I all had several smaller presents under the tree, but there was always one bigger one for each of us. It was placed away from all the others, and we opened it last. It was the best feeling, ever. It’s easy to get caught up in all the other smaller presents, but knowing that there was this one very special gift, one with purpose, had us all waiting with bated breath! Whether it was a beautiful bracelet or a voucher for travel, we all looked forward to opening our unique present. I enjoyed it so much that I do this with my own kids today.
My family has created several Christmas traditions down through the years, and they all bring a smile to my face. One of my favorites is something that my dad does each year. Every Christmas he buys matching pajamas for all of us, and it’s the one gift we get to open on Christmas Eve. They’re always holiday themed and usually red and green. We spend the entire day in our pajamas, and it’s awesome! We’ve even gone to visit other families in our pj’s, much to their perplexity. What can I say? It’s Christmas, and we’re with family. Comfort is key!
Another great one is a privilege we enjoy because we live in sunny California. We go out to the beach on Christmas day! Put me anywhere near a body of water and I’m thrilled, so this is always one of the best parts of the day.
I think it’s important for new families to create and establish their own traditions. It’s such a fun way to celebrate with one another, and it yields invaluable memories for decades to come. Sometimes parents become obsessed with making this “thing” or that “thing” a tradition, and it feels a bit contrived. With my own kids, I pay lots of attention to what they’re organically drawn to and interested in.
My boys are only two and four years old, so we’re still growing into a lot. Nevertheless, they already have their preferences! I’ve noticed my oldest really enjoys decorating the tree together, so we make that into a family activity. The kids love making gingerbread houses and stringing popcorn together to use as decoration for the tree, and it’s a great way to spend the days leading up to the holiday. It isn’t about the actual activity as much as it is about the meaning behind it. Doing things together and creating memories around them make for warm and fuzzy retrospection.
My Favorite Things
Amid the hustle and bustle that can often overtake everyone during this time of year are some of my absolute cherished parts of the holidays. I look forward to the joyful Christmas music playing all around. I love the good food and hot cocoa shared with people I love. We adore going to see all the beautiful lights and Christmas trees around town, and the cheerful spirit that abounds.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts about the holidays is that it puts me in a charitable mood. It really is a time to be grateful for all we have and the friends and family we treasure. We do a lot of giving back all year, but Christmas is the perfect time to dial it up even more so. We participate in a blanket drive that benefits the homeless in our area, and it’s one of the things I anticipate anxiously each year.
The holidays can be tough for some, but there is no denying the beauty it holds as well. There are so many things to look forward to, and even more to be thankful for. I’m hoping you all have a lovely time celebrating in any way that feels right to you. I know I will!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!