Now, I know I said a few weeks ago that autumn was my absolute favorite season of the year – and it is. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my favorite time of year is from Thanksgiving through the New Year. You see, I’m a traditional kinda gal and this time of year is just steeped in tradition.
It starts with the night before Thanksgiving, when we go to a friend’s for his annual Pre-Thanksgiving festivities. He started it the Thanksgiving immediately after we graduated high school and has done so ever since. It’s always fun to catch up with those we really don’t see any other time of the year due to either distance or just busy schedules but my favorite thing has been watching us all morph from college kids to 20-somethings trying to figure out once and for all what we want in life to 30-somethings with actual careers, spouses and families. The night doesn’t go quite as late as it once did and shenanigans of inebriated “kids” have given way to [slightly] more mature adults but it’s still a good time and an evening we always look forward to. Unfortunately this year, it snowed the entire day before Thanksgiving so we were unable to go. It felt a little odd but we put on Elf and let the kids experience that movie for the first time. (It was a hit.)
The next day is Thanksgiving – the one holiday my husband, kids and I still split between both his family and mine. It makes for a hectic day but it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we did it any other way since this has been what we’ve done since our first Thanksgiving together in 1995. My mom always makes the same foods which is extremely comforting to me. I’m sure they’re probably pretty similar to what most Americans have that day – roasted turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, a dish of gherkin pickles and olives (it isn’t a holiday without it), pumpkin pie… We always head home fat and happy after two dinners, singing Christmas songs in between all the groans and buttons popping off our pants.
The day after Thanksgiving, I avoid stores at all costs. I can’t think of any worse thing than to go fight mobs of people just to save a few bucks. Some people get a high off of it but I am not one of them! Instead, we head off to the local tree farm to pick our Christmas tree. A sub-tradition of getting our tree began a couple years ago when our son announced that he was naming it Frederick – which I thought was a great name for a Christmas tree! Last year was Frederick II but this year, he wanted something a little less “fancy” so he and his dad came up with… Johnny Needles.
We spend that entire day decorating the tree and the rest of the house. My house decorated for Christmas is my favorite. It is so warm and homey with the warm glow of the Christmas tree and candles flickering… As I type, we are all together on the couch watching Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. The only thing missing is hot chocolate. In the next week or so, my husband and I will take part in one of my absolute favorite traditions of ours. We turn off the lights, cuddle on the couch and watch Love, Actually. We have done that every single Christmas since we were married 10 years ago. I. love. it.
In between the craziness of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, we have another big happening – on December 21, 2005, I gave birth to my sweet boy. Though his birthday is only 4 days before Santa arrives, we always make sure we have a big birthday celebration. I’ve known others who’ve had children with birthdays at Christmastime and most of them wait to put up any decorations until the birthday has passed. My boy, however, loves when we put up the Christmas decorations because then he knows his birthday is right around the corner.
Christmas Eve evening is one of my favorite nights of the year. My children are in the children’s choir at our church and our minister of music has them sing at the 6pm family service. I love watching them stand on the altar singing of Jesus’ birth. Our church is gorgeous any day but it’s especially breathtaking at Christmastime. My entire family attends the family service and then my mom and I usually return to church for the candlelight service where I sing with the adult choir. (I’ll be taking a break this year as the gifts that Santa is bringing require quite a bit more assembly than his gifts have in the past so I’ll be staying home to play Mrs. Claus to my husband’s Santa. As much as I’ll miss my candlelight service, I am looking forward to playing Santa!) My mom and dad then spend the night and I think we’re just as excited to see the kids on Christmas morning as the kids are to see the result of Santa’s visit!
As you can imagine with three little ones, Christmas morning is pretty crazy but I love it. I love watching the kids faces as they see the tree with all the gifts underneath of it for the first time. I love playing along with the whole Santa schpiel. I love watching and listening to them play with their new stuff as the smell of Christmas dinner begins to waft through the house. Inevitably, at least one kid will pass out… and nine times out of ten, so does my dad.
There is really nothing I don’t love about Christmas. I love the traditions and the new memories made at every turn. I love seeing the lights on houses, the carols on the radio, baking cookies with my husband and kids… I love it all. And now that you know a little about me (okay, a lot!), what are your favorite Christmas traditions?