|Lily in her Christmas dress last year|
Every Christmas Eve, our family gets together with the extended enormous family (as many aunts, uncles, and cousins that live within a 1 hour radius of northern Ky) gather at a rotating family members house for a party. Think lots of food and laughter, and of course, singing jolly Christmas songs around the piano. Santa Claus makes an appearance, and even each aunt and uncle sits on his lap to receive a present. After the party, our family heads to a Christmas Eve service at the church. Christmas Eve music at night with candlelight makes me feel so amazingly peaceful and so happy I could cry. We leave exhausted and happy and excited as puppies to watch each other open gifts the next day.
My mom sneaks in during the night and places big stuffed stockings on our beds, a ploy I think to keep us in bed longer before waking her up when we were little. But, she still does this and we're now all in our thirties! My sister Missy wakes us all up first (she has always been the morning type) and I grudgingly sit up to open our stockings together. Dad gets up and makes goetta and bacon and bakes these delicious orange rolls my mom makes the night before. Once we're all up, we gather in the living room to open gifts together all at the same time. My sister and I used to hide presents so we could be the "last" one to open a gift.
Once all the hoopla is over, we started going to the movies when we were older. Yes, theaters are open on Christmas Day and they are usually playing a good family movie. My favorite Christmas movie of all time is Little Women. I still have to watch it this month. And then, the season is over, and a wave of sadness creeps over me for I know I won't see my whole family for another year and that all the fun and excitement is totally over. Sigh.
Thinking about it all makes me want to have a Christmas Eve party. With lots of food, singing and Santa arriving with jingling bells. I too will start sneaking in the stocking for my kids. I too will make a special breakfast, and think I will bust out the orange roll recipe. I too will take my kids to a nice Christmas service with lots of singing and hopefully a pageant where they can see the real meaning of Christmas. I too will read all the Christmas stories and about Jesus being born in a manger.
Some new traditions are starting now as well, and there are a few others I want to adopt. For one, I only do three gifts for the kids, something they want, something they need, and a surprise, plus stockings. We also do an advent calendar. This year I just did the chocolate calendar, but next year I want to do this advent calendar concept with activities, treats, and goodies and keep this as our new tradition. I also want to camp out under the tree a weekend in December with my kids like Ashley Ann, and I really want to start letting the kids pick a gift they want to give to someone or some organization that really needs it. Plus, time to start hunting for a perfect Christmas tree every year. Right now we have a fake one, but I plan on getting a small real one with the kids this year as well. They just smell so good and I remember that being one of my favorite parts about the season as a kid. Picking out the perfect tree.
How about you all? What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Have you seen any others out there you would like to adopt as well?