Christmas is my favorite time of year.
Actually, scratch that: from October 1 to December 31 is my favorite time of year. Once January hits, I tend to fall into a bit of a... rut? Sadness rut? January and February are very difficult months for me, so it seems kind that I get my absolute favorite time of year right before that.
I grew up with a lot of Christmas traditions that have fallen to the wayside. I think that is true of everyone's life: there are things you do as a kid that just aren't realistic for incorporating into your life as you get older. There are no more big family dinners on Christmas Eve; no more bright-and-early Christmas mornings (at least not until Forrest is able to get up on his own); and no more school programs or anything like that.
No, there are other things that I associate with Christmas now. Things that I've done with Danny in the last 7 years (have we been together nearly 7 years now!?) that are special to us, that are our traditions, and things we are starting with Forrest to make into traditions of our own.
I wanted to share some of my childhood traditions that I still keep up, some of our new traditions as a family, and a few things that we hope to incorporate into Christmas as the years go by.
1. Baking Sugar Cookies
This is one of those traditions that everyone has. Almost everyone spends one day in December baking a ridiculous amount of sugar cookies--or maybe they're oatmeal cookies, or ginger cookies, or whatever cookie your family favors.
We make sugar cookies in my family; the recipe was my great-grandmother's, adapted from a recipe for Scottish shortbread (I think it's actually an Americanization, as my great-grandmother's side was Scottish). It's basically shortbread, plus eggs and baking powder and vanilla. That's it! They're delicious, easy to make, and so much fun.
I've been making these sugar cookies the exact same way with the exact same icing since I was little and whenever I make them for my office, everyone loves them. It's not Christmastime until I've made my sugar cookies!
2. Opening presents early
Danny and I have always been very bad at keeping secrets from each other. Mostly because I am incredibly intuitive and I know when Danny isn't telling me something. Presents are hard because, throughout the year, we save so much money that we rarely treat ourselves or each other to big purchases, so we tend to give each other gifts the moment we buy them. The last few years, we got into a bad habit of having most of our presents opened by Christmas day (oops). This year, we set a limit for ourselves: one present when Danny finished school for break and one before we left for Christmas. It worked marvelously. We got to enjoy our tradition of being absolutely cheeky about when we open presents, but we still have some to open with Forrest on Christmas morning. (And of course, like true parents, we're making Forrest wait until Christmas! Not that he knows the difference.)
3. Watching Lord of the Rings
One of my favorite movies to watch around Christmas is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Don't ask me why, but they are Christmas movies. I will argue about it. Danny and I started doing this the year where he wasn't working and I had quit my job to switch to another (digression: that job switch was absolutely a mistake, but that's another blog post!). We had a lot of spare time around Christmas as a result, so we watched the extended edition of the Trilogy... and loved it. We started doing it every year!
Recently, we added the Hobbit trilogy to it. Those movies are also Christmas movies, I will argue, and fit right in. With Forrest, we don't have the attention spans (or time) we used to, so we tend to stick to the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring, our two favorites.
4. Advent Calendars
Advent calendars are a relatively new phenomena in the United States. Well, not "new." When I was little, I had an Advent calendar once or twice, but they weren't very popular and I firmly believe that the traditional ones sold in the US were all made in the same year. (Really, they all have the same waxy chocolates and exact same look. Since at least 1992.)
I know Advent calendars are super popular outside the U.S. though, of all varieties... much better varieties than mass produced, waxy milk chocolates and a vaguely religious poem behind each door! This year, I started noticing Advent calendars popping up everywhere: Ulta had one, Sephora had one. Europe is gradually forcing a trend on the U.S. and I am into it! I got myself an Advent calendar this year and Forrest one as well, and we both enjoyed it. This is definitely something I want to keep up because they are so fun!
5. Making Family Ornaments
This year, I bought a few ornament picture frames to put on our tree: they have the year on them, so I put two photos from our family vacation in them. It got me thinking... how nice, when Forrest is 18, to be able to decorate the tree with these photos of us and him. It's not something I can see myself doing every single year (some years we probably won't vacation or get a good photo), but something I do want to keep up for a while!
What are your Christmas traditions? Tell me about them in the comments!