Growing up there were a few traditions that we followed, the rule Christmas morning was that I had to make coffee for my parents before I could wake them up and there was always Holubtsi (cabbage rolls) on the table for Christmas supper. A throwback to my baba’s Ukrainian heritage.
Now that I have children of my own, we follow similar traditions and have added a few. The kids have an advent calendar that I built them that we reuse every year. It has 25 brown bags on it representing each day in December. Each bag has a treat for each of my children and can be anything from stickers, to a hot chocolate package, maybe a piece of leftover Halloween candy… one year was gummy vitamins (shhh… they still don’t know). The kids look forward to a little something special each morning.
The tree is always real and we harvest it on our land in an afternoon of hiking, campfire, hotdogs and marshmallows. Note: We always get way to big of a tree and it takes up most of the living room, guaranteed it will be knocked over at least once a season when one of the animals runs into it. My husband is in charge of the lights, I place the garland and the kids take on the hanging of the ornaments. There is always a debate on who puts the star on top.
Christmas Eve is our Christmas with my husband’s family; we all get together in the afternoon for gift exchanging, laughs, drinks and lots of food. Usually on the menu is seafood as it is a treat and a great break from the traditional turkey. Christmas day we spend with our own little family and my house hosts for my side of the family. As we live on a working ranch, Christmas morning means an extra bale of hay for the cows… something my husband grew up knowing his dad always did.
Two years out of the past seven we broke major tradition and took our little family to someplace hot to celebrate. As strange as it was to not have a white Christmas, we immensely enjoyed the change of playing in the snow in exchange for playing in the sand. While it didn’t “feel” like Christmas day, the time spend as just the 5 of us was a reminder of what was important.
Whether it was growing up with both my parents in the home, later in life when it was only myself and one parent, with a houseful of family or just the 5 of us … Christmas traditions center around one main thing – people. While I love all the visiting and laughs we have with friends and family during the holidays, our favorite time is after the chaos and the gift wrap is cleaned up, and we can spend the time together just relaxing and enjoying the day.