My son Keenan is so, so, SO excited for Santa to get here. He’s expecting a lot from Santa; he told me that Santa is going to bring him new cars, trucks and books. I’m approximately 100% positive that Santa will not disappoint him – “Santa Claus” has been shopping since September.
Now that most of the hard work is done, I’m looking forward to the celebrations. From Christmas Eve mass to decorating cookies to opening gifts, I’m excited to make new memories with my little guy and to establish some new holiday traditions of our own. Here are some of my favorite holiday traditions, and some things that I’m really excited to try.
My son is not quite old enough for this particular tradition, but I’ve been hearing a lot about the “Elf on the Shelf,” an elf figurine that reports to Santa Claus to let him know if the kids are naughty or nice. The elf is kind of a big deal for little kids; the day he magically reappears in the home is one of the most exciting days of the year. Check out www.elfontheshelf.com for more information about this lovable character. I’m sure we’ll be buying one for Christmas 2013 since Keenan will be a full-fledged member of the terrible twos by then.
Growing up, my family had an annual tradition of shopping for ornaments together. Each year we’d visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store. We’d pick out all kinds of different ornaments, but there’s one ornament that each family simply must have: A glass pickle. Before Christmas morning, hide the pickle ornament in the tree. Tradition says that the first one to find it gets a year of good luck!
Visiting Santa is another important Christmastime custom. Have you taken the kids for a visit yet? Most parents take the kids to sit on Santa’s lap, but writing Santa a letter is another great way to get them excited for the holiday season. It can be a lot of fun because the letters will make hilarious keepsakes in the years to come.
If you’re looking to institute a religious Christmas tradition, consider letting your kids set up the crèche, or nativity display. Young kids will love playing with the animals and placing Baby Jesus in the manger; it’s a wonderful way to spark a conversation about the meaning behind the holiday.
Do you celebrate Christmas Eve as a family? Many families kick off this night by allowing each child to open one Christmas gift. You can even make this “early gift” something that they’ll be able to use on Christmas Day. For example, you can give each child a set of pajamas to wear on Christmas morning. And if you buy matching pajamas for all of your children, you’ll be able to take some pretty adorable photos on Christmas morning.
Christmas breakfast was always one of my favorite family traditions. Instead of having a fancy Christmas dinner, we would wake up to the smells of fresh-baked bread and breakfast casserole. It was like the calm before the storm; we could sit and enjoy each other’s company before the gift-opening frenzy began. The absolute best part of breakfast was opening Christmas crackers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, crackers are pretty cardboard tubes that hold little trinkets. One person pulls on either end of the tube, and it pops open – usually with a pretty spectacular bang – to reveal a surprise. Our crackers always had plastic games as well as a paper crown. We’d wear our crowns throughout breakfast and gift opening. Crackers are a great way to kick off the morning festivities with a bang, (literally).
I know that some of our readers don’t celebrate Christmas, so I asked Zing blogger Eric about his favorite holiday Chanukah traditions. I was surprised to learn that Chanukah is not actually one of the most significant Jewish holidays. Instead, Eric looks forward to Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is remembered with 24 hours of fasting, so he loves the moment when they get to break the fast. He says that eating after a full day of fasting is “like seeing an ocean in the middle of a desert: a beautiful sight to see.” His family celebrates by having bagels and lox, macaroni and cheese, tuna salad, fresh fruit, crepes, and lots of other yummy stuff. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! On the other hand, if you’re excited for Hanukkah, you’re probably looking forward to playing the traditional dreidel game, eating latkes (potato pancakes) and lighting the Menorah.
Holiday traditions are the most memorable part of any holiday. I’d love to hear about your favorite customs. Share them with me and other Zing readers in the comments below!