Christmas is a magical, wonderful time of the year. But it also a time of great financial strain and stress which has led some to say “bah humbug” and skip the holiday festivities. I get it. Today there is considerable pressure to create the perfect holiday, which isn’t cheap or easy. Perhaps it’s time we reconsider what truly makes the holiday magical.
Seeing Lauren and Taylor’s eyes light up on Christmas morning and hearing their shouts of joy as they unwrap presents, are memories that I will treasure forever. Santa and presents are important, especially to young kids, but Christmas means more than just gifts.
Presents Are Forgotten but Family Traditions Are Treasured Memories
I remember my excitement Christmas morning as a child, but I only remember a handful of gifts that I received. What I do remember are our family traditions and how precious those memories are to me today. I realize for all the excitement my girls may genuinely feel for their gifts this Christmas that in 20 or 30 years what they will remember is everything else. Here are a few of our annual traditions.
Orange Marmalade Signals the Start of the Holiday Season
Every year after we have recovered from our Thanksgiving festivities, we don’t rush out to the stores but back to our kitchen instead. We thinly slice juicy California oranges and make homemade orange marmalade. The citrusy scent permeates the house and ushers in the Christmas season in our home. The girls help me make the jam, even though they aren’t big fans of it themselves, but the kitchen is filled with laughter and the sounds and scents of Christmas.
Decorating the Christmas Tree and House
Admittedly, there are times it would probably be easier to decorate the tree and house by myself, but where is in the fun in that? Many decorations have a story behind them and the girls never tire of hearing these annual stories. I also purchase an ornament for Lauren and Taylor every year from a place we visited or something that symbolizes a special moment from the past year. Now when they leave home, they can decorate their own tree with our family memories.
Watching Classic Holiday Movies or Shows Together
For many years, it’s been the Polar Express for us. When the girls were younger we even took them on the Polar Express Train Ride at Christmas. While we no longer do that, we still watch the movie together and the book is a popular choice at bedtime. During such a busy time of year, taking a couple of hours to snuggle on the sofa together and watch a movie is a welcome break and a great reminder that family is the best gift of all.
Decorating Gingerbread Houses with Extended Family
I’ve been decorating gingerbread houses every Christmas since I was a child. My Mom used to spend days baking the gingerbread from scratch and my sisters and I would decorate our houses at the dining room table covered with bowls of candies and frosting. Now days, we use gingerbread house kits, but we still spend an afternoon with Grandma and the girls’ cousins decorating gingerbread houses. Christmas music still plays in the background and not every piece of candy makes it onto a gingerbread house. Some still disappears into somebody’s belly.
Affordable and Memorable Holiday Traditions
None of our traditions cost very much but mean a great deal to all of us. You may be tempted to break your piggy bank trying to buy everything on your child’s Christmas list, but the reality is the debt you could create may last longer than your child’s memory of the toy. Set a budget on what you can afford to spend on gifts, use my simple plan to create your child’s true Christmas wish list and focus on creating family traditions with your family. Those traditions are what they will remember as adults and want to recreate with their children.
Here are a few additional popular and affordable family traditions:
- Attend Your Hometown’s Annual Tree Lighting and/or Holiday Parade.
- Drive around and oh and ah over the homes lit up for the holidays.
- Bake holiday cookies and treats together and deliver them to friends and family members.
- Attend community holiday concerts, plays and performances.
- Go sledding or ice skating and warm up afterwards with hot chocolate or apple cider.
- Do DIY craft projects as a family—create a wreath, ornaments, gift tags, etc.
- Buy a holiday jigsaw puzzle and work on it every night (timed to finish on Christmas Eve).
- Watch your favorite holiday movie together. Roast s’mores if you have a fireplace or microwave them if you don’t!
The Final Step in Creating a Magical Christmas
Next Monday, I’ll talk about the final component to creating a magical Christmas that celebrates gifts, traditions and one of my favorite things of all—sharing.
What are some of your family traditions?
Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net.
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