Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Traditions

I am a creature of habit and routine, so traditions are definitely what make Christmas special to me. And now that it's Baby Ryder's first Christmas, Stew and I are having a blast making memories and re-establishing some of the traditions that were part of our holidays growing up.

Here are a few of our favorites...

Growing up, we went to see Santa every year, shaking with anxiety as we waited in line to climb onto his lap and whisper our Christmas wishes into his ear. Is there anything more special and magical than believing in Santa? I don't think so, which is why we'll choose to lie to Ryder and tell him all about this jolly fat man and his eight tiny reindeer. This year we took him to see Santa for the first time and he wasn't even afraid! We'll see how it goes next time when he's a year older and a little more aware...


Putting our coats and boots on, piling into the car, and trudging through the cold and mud to find the perfect Christmas tree for Dad to cut down is one of my favorite holiday traditions. My birthday is December 10, and when I was little we always went tree hunting the next day (so that my birthday would still be special and separate from Christmas). Stew and I have been happy with our little four-foot fake plastic tree for the past few years, but this Christmas, in our new home with our new baby boy, we wanted a REAL tree. So we bundled Ryder up and took him to Enchanted Winds Tree Farm, where we wandered through the snow dusted forest until we found the perfect noble fir. We chopped it down, hauled it home, and displayed it oh-so-proudly next to our fireplace. 


When Stew and I first started dating, we gave each other ornaments for Christmas, and the tradition has stuck all these years. Now, we also often purchase ornaments when we travel, and we've developed quite the collection! One of my favorite parts of Christmas is getting the decoration boxes down out of storage and looking at each ornament as we place it on the tree. Every one has a story and a memory. I also love reminiscing as I look at the ornaments on my parents' tree, which even includes one that I made when I was only two! Here are a few of our 2014 additions...


Growing up in my family, we always made sugar cookies with homemade frosting while listening to John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (my absolute favorite Christmas album). I have the best memories of being in the kitchen with my mom, using a stool to reach the counter, wearing an apron covered in flour. We would use little metal cookie cutters in the shapes of Santa and stars while we sang along with Kermit at the gang, licking frosting off our fingertips. As an adult, sugar cookies aren't my favorite anymore, but I've got a couple new recipes I'm going to try this year...


Christmas movies are a holiday staple, and I start to get in a deck-the-halls mood just as soon as they start appearing on TV after Thanksgiving. This year I am determined to watch all of my favorites, and I sent the following list to my mom so she could make sure each and every one of these classic holiday flicks will be waiting for me on her DVR...

The Polar Express
A Muppet Family Christmas
Home Alone
It's A Wonderful Life
The Family Stone
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snow Man
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon not Jim Carey)
A Christmas Story
The Santa Clause
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Miracle on 34th Street


When Stew was a little kid, his mom handmade beautiful Christmas stockings for him and his brothers. Seriously, I've never seen anything like it... bright and elaborate, a three dimensional Christmas scene with Santa and adorable woodland creatures decorating a shining Christmas tree. It put my stocking to shame. So a few years ago, Stew decided that I needed a matching stocking, and as a surprise he hired a seamstress who made a similar style stocking for me! It was hanging on the fireplace on Christmas morning, and might be the most thoughtful Christmas gift I have ever received. Then Ryder was born, so of course I had to make sure that he had a matching family stocking, too. I enlisted the help of a very talented co-worker, and his gorgeous handmade stocking was completed just in time for Christmas. If he's a good boy and starts sleeping through the night, it may get filled with something other than coal.


For the first time this year, we had lights put up on the outside of our new house. This is something we always did growing up, so it felt wonderful to be doing it ourselves (i.e. standing in the street watching the guy we hired perch precariously on our steeply sloped roof). I love driving onto our street every night as I'm greeted with those twinkling white Christmas lights. And when I was little, we would always drive around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve, looking at the neighborhood lights and debating which house had the best display. That's definitely a tradition I want to continue with Ryder.


 This is a newer tradition for us. Last year I gave my entire family matching Christmas jammies as a surprise (yes, even the dog). I had so much fun watching everyone open their packages, exclaim, and immediately begin to model their new holiday outfits. Of course an elaborate photo shoot followed. This year I planned ahead and ordered Ryder matching jammies as well, and I can't wait to add him to our 2014 Christmas Jammies Family Photo.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

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  1. I love the matching jammies.. How cute those are! All around I think those are some pretty great traditions to have :)

  2. These are some amazing traditions! :) I think you'll all have a wonderful Christmas!

  3. Our traditions are almost the same! I know a girl who told her son Santa isn't real and I was a little sad for him, it IS the most magical thing ever but I guess you have to grow up with it to love it so much!! I just read tolkeins book of letters to all his children from 'Santa' I cried at the end bc there were like 4 of them n they all grew up n stopped writing to him!

  4. I love all of these traditions! Those stockings - WOW!!


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