Saturday, December 4, 2010

Choosing Holiday Traditions for the Family

....beyond just thanksgiving football.
 Apparently equals

Lately I have been trying to think of holiday traditions to start. This is my first year to have a family, and I (tending to err more on the cheesy side in the christmas department) love having a 'thing' we always do. I want to make new memories. So I've been taking a poll of cool holiday-tradition-ideas.

*note*: Not just traditions for families, mind you, I totally should have started thinking about this topic pre-baby, pre-Justin....

My process--To Santa or not to Santa...
I am still deciding if we are doing the whole Santa thing. I want to, I grew up doing it, I love fantasy. Yes, there's the anti-santa argument of the Lying Factor (going along with something that could eventually 'break their hearts'...). I've considered the Distraction Factor (Santa distracts from the reason for the season), etc.I still wanted to do Santa. However recently I had a friend that (I am grateful for this) recently made me think once again about the decision to santa or not to santa. It was the way she phrased the question that resounded with me. She asked me innocently in conversation, "Are you going to teach your children to believe in Santa Claus?" Teach? Including santa in the festivities had felt almost passive, of course our kids would believe because they would learn from the rest of the world. But, I realized, everything you say or do as a parent, santa or not, is intentional. A parent is a teacher at all times. Ouch. I'm still processing, I haven't decided either way still. 

So, Santa or not, I decided that we need to choose traditions that are in line with our family mission statement (see post on how to keep life simple). So I've taken a Holiday Poll and found 7 of my favorite tradition ideas.
In order of favorites:

I got this tradition from a friend via facebook. 

(do not click to look inside...obviously)

A devotional for children you read as a family every day of December. Each day discusses the story of Jesus from the perspective of the Jesse tree. There is an ornament for each day that goes along with the devo from that day, and the ornament can either be made (craft time!) or can be purchased.
where to buy the book
 or you can read more about the book & download the ornaments here
jesse tree online
2) Multi-Cultural Christmas (my own version)

Thanks to Stephie, who grew up doing this. Every year, a different member of the family gets to pick a country (they rotate). The family (or the person who picked the country)gets to research the history, politics, cultural aspects, cuisine of that country. Mom (or dad) starts a couple days before Christmas Eve dinner, gathering all the ingredients to make an 8 course meal from that country. Someone from the family reads about the politics and culture to the rest of the family and they enjoy that country together. Also, every year, Stephie's mom buys a little Santa figurine from that country (they have a huge display by now). Tada
 My version: Instead of doing this Christmas eve, I want to do it Thanksgiving meal. Not huge fans of turkey and stuffing anyway, so we would like to start doing this tradition in lieu of tryptophanfest. Also, we'll do more like a THREE course meal, we're gonna scale it down (remember my 2hour prep rule). We really want to expose our kids to other cultures and teach respect for, so this is one way we can accomplish that.
3. Christmas Eve Santa Hunting 
On Christmas Eve, my friend's family goes out to "look for Santa". Everyone gets in the car and drives around looking for Santa. Meanwhile other family members stay at home and put all the gifts under the tree. Every year when the kids return with grandpa or father or whoever, they JUST MISSED Santa again! This family also eats tamales for dinner that night and sings carols together. My friend's now 'all grown up' ;) and still looks forward to it every year. 

(she doesn't do this, but it would be amazing if she did)
4. Christmas Tree Decorating
I read about this online. The family goes out to the near-by 'forest-y' park (for us, Brushy creek has a deer park around the corner). The family goes out with peanut-butter-birdseed pine cones, popcorn and cranberry garlands and orange and apple slices suspended from pipe cleaners. They pick a 'christmas' tree for the animals, and decorate it for the animals to enjoy! (make sure this is safe&legal....)
5. Open up one gift Christmas Eve--New Pj's! 
(it's the little things...) Wear them Christmas morning. If you're as cool as these people, your family will match.

6. Gingerbread Man Contest!

My family does this. Every year we make homemade gingerbread and everyone makes two gingerbread men. Then everyone votes for their favorite (can't be your own). The winner gets something amazing. Like a harry potter book collection or teen moms season 1 on dvd.   

7. Go Listen to Handel's Messiah as a Family
 I personally love this one. Used to do this as a family in Oklahoma. I checked online and the Austin Symphony is performing it several dates in Dec.
(Long Sidenote Warning: I found a lot of other fun things to do in Austin over the holidays such as:

-->Relive a turn-of-the-century Christmas on historic Sixth Street during the 12th annual Victorian Christmas on Sixth Street. Artists and craftspeople display their work in more than 150 booths (

--->The German-Texan Heritage Society offers handmade and imported wooden German ornaments and other gifts. "Enjoy refreshments, live music and German Christmas caroling".

-->The former home of short story writer O'Henry, located at 409 East 5th St., is decorated for a Victorian Christmas reception (what what) ((I'm a sucker for victorian anything)) and an open house on December 4 from 3-5 p.m. that features refreshments and live music.

And I know it's already past but.....

7. Some Thanksgiving Traditions
   a) Make homemade pumpkin bars and cards to deliver to your neighbors (thanks cousin)
   b) Everyone share one thing you are thankful for each day and write it on a huge thanksgiving pumpkin that sits at your table all month.
   c) If you're not anal about decor--buy a white tablecloth and put an indelible marker at each table setting, and ask everyone to write a list or draw a picture of things they are grateful for during dinner. (Later in dinner, everyone can share what they are thankful for)
   d) Invite new people to thanksgiving dinner. People you may not normally hang out with or foreign exchange students

Welp, that's all I have so far. If anyone has any other good traditions, please email me, would love to hear them since we're trying to decide!

hopefully doesn't =

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