Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk Traditions
Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Since my kids are quite young I am still figuring out what I want our family traditions to look like. Certainly, I already incorporate a few things that I grew up with and hold dear to my heart, but I want to add on a few things that are uniquely ours. Here is where I am at so far.
Last year I made a Happy Birthday banner and now every time it’s someone’s birthday we hang it up. You know how some people get sentimental about Christmas ornaments? Well I plan on a big sentimental cry fest over the Happy Birthday banner for many years to come. I may even make another one so when the girls move out they can both have one to take to college with them.
I always start off the Christmas season by going to the Waldorf Christmas Fair. With the opportunity to buy from local artisans and craftspeople, I get a lot of my Christmas shopping done, make a Christmas wreath with my daughters, travel into a sweet-smelling Cookie Cavern for a sugar cookie hanging from the ceiling and walls, and hear a magic and wonder-filled story or two while basking in the spirit of the season. I haven’t missed a fair in five years and I hope I never do. They are soul-filling-ly beautiful.
I grew up with fresh baking. My mom bakes, my step-mom bakes, my grandma bakes, and I bake too. I try not to overdo it too much but I bake at least 5 different kinds of cookies and squares to have on hand for visitors. I start this around mid-December and keep them in the deep freeze. Sometimes I sneak one or two, or three or four…. I have a couple of standby’s, compliments of friends with talent who shared their recipes a few years ago. I also like to try something new.
When we were kids my mom always bought my brother and I advent calendars with the cheap little chocolates inside. I loved them until I was about 20, and then I realized how gross the chocolate is and made sure I didn’t get one again – plus, hello, I was 20! Time to stop the advent calendars mom! My kids got them for a couple years until I put a stop to that. I like the idea of making my own and while we haven’t ventured further than the paper chain advent that you snip off each night up until December 24th, I really want to find a meaningful way to count down to Christmas. Last year we made a couple last minute advent calendars. We tried a giving jar which was awesome, but we found it hard to keep up with doing each good deed each day of the month. Maybe I made some of our goals too difficult to attain, so I’ve shelved that idea until I can’t find something better. One idea I like that I found at Living Peacefully With Children is this Solstice calendar. I just need to start sewing in October to make sure it gets done by December 1st!
Decorating the Christmas tree and our ornaments are a very important part of past, present and future traditions. For one, Christmas music must be playing! Every year growing up my brother and I received a new ornament so I have passed this tradition down to my kids. Of course this means we can never have a designer tree. Instead, it’s filled with stories of Christmases past, old loves, cherished relatives who have passed on, good friends and fun times. In fact, I think the most at home I have felt in our new home came when I opened the box of our ornaments this week and fondly remembered my years of doing daycare and the many, many ornaments and decorations we made when my kids were toddlers.
When I was growing up my brother and I created the tradition of not being able to see the Christmas tree until our parents were awake on Christmas morning. There was something about us all seeing the presents under the tree for the first time that was special for us, and I still do this, even though everyone thinks I’m crazy for wanting to continue with it.
On Christmas Eve I help the girls write a letter to Santa and leave a plate of Christmas baking and a glass of water for Santa and a bowl of water for the reindeer. (Mommy Claus doesn’t like milk and we tell the girls that Santa is probably tired of milk and would like a glass of water instead). When the kids are asleep I eat the cookies and leave a thank you note. I get around the outright lie about Santa by telling them that he is magical, just like fairies, just like real magic. We don’t know how it works, we don’t ever see the “real” Santa, we just choose to believe in magic, and if grown ups can choose to believe in magic then they can believe in Santa forever. Do you believe in Santa? I do.
The kids get to open one present on Christmas Eve and it is always a pair of pajamas. My mom did this for me and I loved knowing I was getting some nice fresh jammies to wear for Christmas photos the next morning. This nicely allows my husband to check something off his list regarding Christmas traditions too. He grew up with French Canadian traditions where they had their big meal on Christmas Eve and opened up presents after Christmas Mass. Yes, as in 1:00 in the morning! I don’t get it. What’s the point of Christmas if it’s over before it starts? One gift, that’s it, is what I say. Lucky for me he isn’t tied to his traditions like I am!
For Christmas dessert I make my famous Vegan Pumpkin Pie. Even though I don’t really eat tofu anymore I will make this again anyway because it is so good and is something I have always done, or at least since I was about 19.
I blame thank my mom for my rigid tradition following ways. Stockings before presents. Family must all be gathered before opening gifts can commence. Silly paper hats must be worn at the dinner table. Tree not to go up before December 10th (no reason by the way). While I am not interested in breaking any of the traditions I already follow I do desperately want to include some more. I know I know. I’m crazy for wanting more work for myself but some of the small things that other people do are so cool. And its the small stuff that interests me.
Some families I know have the most awesome traditions. My friend Victoria hides a pickle in her Christmas tree and the first child to find it gets to open the first Christmas present. I LOVE this game, but unfortunately I don’t have a fake pickle and don’t relish (pun intended) the idea of a real one dripping pickle juice on my fir boughs.
Another friend celebrates Christmas on Winter Solstice so she and her family can have a separate meaningful day together and then enjoy Christmas Day with extended family a few days later. Since I too celebrate Solstice I thought I might adopt this tradition myself but I can’t come around to it since my own traditions are so tightly wound up in December 25th.
I’m dying to read about and hear about your holiday traditions. I may have to steal some of the really good ones. Can you suggest some for me? Tell all in the comments section.