Making Holiday Traditions

Each year, we seem to add more and more traditions to our growing family. I love it! I’m curious which ones will stay and which ones won’t. Some of the things that we are doing now, I can guarantee won’t fly when my kids become teenagers, but for now, I will soak in all these memories.

Traditions are really important for my husband and I. They mark a season. They help focus us on the present – what is currently happening at this point in time in our own lives as well as connecting us to global customs and traditions. Just like the smell of a certain cookie brings you back to your grandmas house when you were 9, or how a specific song brings back memories of those Christmas pageants you were so proud to be in as a child.

Here are some of our favorites holiday traditions:

Buying a Christmas Tree – I love the smell of a fresh Christmas Tree. I also love the process of going to get one – bundling up (oh wait, here in Phoenix that part doesn’t happen), driving to the Christmas Tree lot, finding the perfect tree, watching my husband go over board with the bungy chords to make sure that tree doesn’t move an inch, and taking it home to decorate it in front of the fire with hot drinks and Christmas music.
Baking! – Lots of baking. I would say we bake about 3 times a week during the month of December. I love everything about baking. Each year I find new recipes to try and of course I have old standbys that need to be made too. My 2 1/2 year old loves to be in the kitchen, so many afternoons, we spend baking cookies. Sometime we take them to parties or give as gifts, and sometimes we just eat them.
Making cards – Cards have always played an important role in my family, but geeze they are expensive. So, the last few years we have made them. Not our Family Christmas cards that we send out, but the ones that we give to all our family members on Christmas day. This year my toddler has made 10 cards already, and she’s still going strong. A few each day. It’s a great craft time activity and she’ll get to reap the benefits of giving them out on Christmas day too.
Reading an Advent book – this year, we are reading two. Jesse’s Tree, which we read a very modified condensed version for my toddler before she puts the ornament on the tree, and God With Us, which is mine and my husband’s favorite. It gives historical background to customs and traditions which helps us step back and feel a bit more connected to the hope of the season that expands far beyond our materialized, western culture here in the US.
Zoo Lights – we went last Sunday. So much fun to bundle up, pack some hot chocolate, and head to the zoo. Both my toddler and my 6 month old loved all the lights. We met up with some of our extended family at 5:00pm and had a picnic at Papago Park before we entered ZooLights at 6:00pm when the doors opened.
Visiting Santa – We did this for the first time this year at Elevate Coffee at Norterra. So fun, and the kids got to do a free craft too.
Looking at lights – We plan to bundle up one evening this weekend and walk around our neighborhood to check out the houses and the pretty lights. We often drive around, but we decided this year that our 6 month old would enjoy it too much this year. Check out AZ Central’s map of local homes that display beautiful holiday lights.
Reading Christmas books – We have a few favorites, and it is another excuse to sit by our fireplace and cuddle with the family.
Shopping – My husband and I aren’t big shoppers, but for the past 6 years, we have made it a fun date. This year our girls spent the afternoon and evening with their grandparents while we pretty much polished off our shopping list and enjoyed a nice happy hour.
What are the holiday traditions that you and your family love and cherish?