Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas Day traditions . . .

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Christmas (duh. who doesn't love Christmas??). And one of my favorite things about Christmas is our Christmas traditions. My family does several special things that I absolutely cherish and hold dear to my heart each year. One is the Christmas card. Every year my dad spends pain-staking days finding the perfect Christmas card to give each of us, which are promptly put on the tree the week before Christmas. It is the first thing we open on Christmas morning, and I have been collecting these special cards for years now. What's funny is that you have to be a "member" to get one -- Keith didn't even get one the year we were engaged at Christmas, but got his first Christmas card the following year when he was "official."

After several years of doing the Christmas cards, my dad decided to also give each of us a special journal. He writes us a long entry each year, detailing specific things he wishes to share, special moments from that year, and his general musings about whatever happens to be on his mind. Each of us, including my mom, get a journal, and this year was the first year that his two grandchildren got journals as well. It takes a lot of time for him to write to each of us, but it is so worth it -- my dad has a way with words that would make any author jealous. A few years back my mom started a journal for him, where each of us kids writes in it for him. You shoulda seen the tears that year!

Anyway, on Christmas morning we have a huge breakfast prepared by my mom and brother, drink mimosas, do the dishes, and then head to the living room. We eat homemade Christmas cookies while going through our special order : Christmas cards first, then presents, stockings, and ending with our journals. Everyone reads their cards at the same time, then passes them to me so I can read and cry. Then we go around the room taking turns opening gifts. Stockings are a free-for-all, with everyone opening at the same time (except my mom who loves to watch us all open ours first). Then we end the morning (afternoon at this point) with journals. We cry, we laugh, cry some more (or maybe that's just me crying again), and sit surrounded by paper, gifts, toys, and cookie crumbs. It is one awesome day.

My dad with his grandkids on their first Christmas morning
Seth and Katrina opening Bailey's gift -- an outfit for her to wear on her first birthday, complete with tutu! 
Liam opening a gift . . .
a special hand-painted Dutch ornament that says "Baby's First Christmas"

Christmas night we went to my Aunt Jackie's to celebrate with more family and see cousins that we don't get to see that often. We had a great time eating Italian food and Christmas cookies, watching recitals, playing cards, and hanging out! I was super excited to find out that my cousin Jenna got engaged on Christmas Eve! Brandon and Jenna came to visit us this summer (remember this post?), and I love love love them together. I couldn't be more happy for Jenna!
I got Liam and Bailey these awesome Christmas shirts from my friend Michelle who owns an embroidery company. You can check her out here or here if you're interested!

Liam's face here cracks me up, like "huh?"
Sweet Bailey
Liam and his Aunt Katrina
She loves him : )
Uncle Chris always makes Liam laugh :)
Liam and "Aunt Jenna" once removed, or something like that??? ;)

new traditions . . .

So knowing how special these Christmas traditions are to me, I knew that I wanted to make some special traditions for Liam as well. One thing Keith and I agreed on is that Liam will get three gifts from us each year -- we know he will have everything he needs throughout the year, and will obviously be spoiled by his grandparents, aunts, uncles, Santa, etc. So we decided that rather than have Christmas be about what he gets, we wanted for Liam to have a better understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. And when he's older we want to do things as a family at Christmas, whether that be adopt another family, donate old toys, serve at a soup kitchen, etc. I hope that Liam comes to appreciate these memories and gifts of giving as much as the gifts he receives.

One of Liam's three gifts this year was his own copy of the original The Night Before Christmas. He opened it on Christmas Eve so that Keith could read it to him for the first of many, many times. I videoed it and hope to capture it every year as we read this to Liam and our other children.


Another tradition we started is to give Liam a themed ornament, so one of his other gifts was a special Santa ornament. I will collect Santa ornaments for him each year and when he is grown he can take all his Santa ornaments to decorate his own family tree with. If or when we have more children, I'll do the same for them in a different theme (like snowmen or angels or Christmas trees).

So those are all our Christmas traditions! I already can't wait until next year!


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