This year is about building traditions. Last February, our family moved from Nebraska to San Antonio, so this will be our first Christmas down south. While our move brought us many new opportunities, it also took us quite a distance away from our family. It will be a small Christmas this year. Our kitchen island won’t be overflowing with appetizers. The kids won’t be chasing their cousins through the house. I didn’t even buy a new Christmas tree, but instead opted to put up the 3-foot Charlie Brown tree that I bought last year to fit in our tiny apartment. It looks slightly sheepish, but the kids are still too young to notice that it is ridiculously small for our new house.
It just doesn’t feel like the Christmas that I’m used to this year. But, truthfully, I’ve been struggling with the “it just doesn’t feel like Christmas” sentiment for several years now. When we were growing up, we had pretty solid Christmas traditions. There was always a weekend or two dedicated to the Christmas experience. Shopping. Driving through neighborhoods to look at the lights. Hot Chocolate. Then, there was Christmas Eve at my Grandparent’s house. The menu was always the same: Homemade Chili and Oyster Stew, some sort of meat and cheese spread, a relish tray, and a rowdy game of Pitch to follow. The kids passed out the presents, and then we all took our turn opening one at a time until the floor was awash with wrapping, tissue paper, and empty boxes. At the end of the night my dad would warm up the car, load the present and pile us in for the sleepy six block (yep, I grew up in a really small town!) trip home. On Christmas morning, my brother and I would wake up extra early so that we could scout our stockings, then carefully place everything back so that no one would be the wiser. As we sat around in our pajamas opening presents, the room was full of happiness. After presents, we would make breakfast complete with sparkling cider that made it feel “fancy”.
Now that I am grown up with my own children, I feel like I need to set some new Christmas traditions. I want my kids to experience the same feelings of anticipation and excitement that I felt as a child. I want them to hear Mannheim Steamroller and be transported to the sights and smells of Christmas morning. The thing I’ve come to realize is that Christmas traditions can quickly die off, and I need to work to maintain old traditions and build one with my family.
New city. New house. This year seems like the perfect year to start building those new traditions.
I want to make sure that the kids find something in Christmas besides presents. We spent the day making Christmas cookies. I had plans to make more, but decided that sugar cookies, biscotti and almond bark pretzels were enough. We are planning to take the kids to Midnight Mass even though it’s late, so that they understand what Christmas is really about.
In the morning when they wake up, I hope I can catch them trying to sneak a peak into their stockings. I want to remember the excitement in their faces when they see all the presents that Santa left for them while they were sleeping. I plan to make a special breakfast. Maybe they will each get to pick out one present to open before we eat. I know that building our traditions will take time, but I’m anxious to get started. (I’m also anxious for this scrumptious biscotti and a quiet cup of coffee in my pajamas.)