We’ll be Home … Our Home … for Christmas
Six days and counting … and boy are we counting! The excitement level in our house right now is through the roof! So as Santa begins to pack his sleigh, the team of Charlotte Smarties thought we’d each share our family holiday traditions. It’s so fun to hear how everyone celebrates in their own special ways, so please share your stories with us throughout the week!
My fondest memories as a kid are those of Christmas Eve, feeling the excitement in the air as my sisters and I donned our matching Christmas jammies (you know, the fuzzy “faux-flannel” kind that built up enough static electricity that you could actually see them spark in the dark!) Anyway, the 3 of us would scurry up to bed to wait for Santa and scheme how we would wake each other up in the middle of the night to get a sneak peak of the goods only to find that my mom had put up the long forgotten baby gate to thwart our adventures (did she really think we wouldn’t climb over it??) And then waking up Christmas morning, dragging our parents out of bed (boy do I have a different appreciation for that now!) and racing each other down stairs to see what the big man in red had brought. After all the new toys were unveiled and the flurry of paper settled to the floor, we’d all sit down to a yummy brunch and chatter about the morning’s events before heading off to Grandma’s house to do it all over again.
When Matt and I started having kids, this was a family tradition that didn’t even require discussion. It was super important to both of us that Christmas Eve and Christmas morning were spent in OUR house. We really wanted our kids to experience the magic in their own home where memories were made year after year. Now the tricky part to that is that neither of our families live near by … so no afternoon drive down to Grandma’s house – we’re talking either a plane ride, or more likely a full day in the car. It was tough news to deliver to the Grandparents that first year and sometimes it’s really hard on us, when the paper finally settles to our floor and our extended families are beginning to gather 4 or 5 states away. But we realize it’s about the kids now and starting our own family traditions that will stay with them a lifetime.
Our festivities kick off the afternoon of Christmas Eve which entails the baking of cookies (and eating of frosting) to leave out for Santa that night. Then we have a nice steak dinner and some wine … listen to Christmas music and check for Santa on the online Santa tracker … drink some more wine … get the kids in their matching jammies (no static sparks!), assure our son that we will blow out the candles in the fireplace so Santa can get down the chimney and then off to bed to await Santa’s arrival! Then Matt and I have so much fun pulling out all the presents and strategically placing them around the tree for the optimal “wow” factor the next morning (which might be a little trickier this year with fewer gifts to work with …)
The next morning is the usual tearing through presents and then we sit down for a brunch made for an army. We stay in our jammies all day, playing with the new toys and watching movies and then instead of heading to Grandma’s, we head over to a friend’s house for dinner and a relaxing Christmas evening in the company of great friends.
And just so nobody thinks the Grandparents are missing out, we do typically travel over the holidays to see family – it’s just either the week before or the week right after Christmas. And of course, they are always welcome to come stay with us for Christmas!! While I miss seeing my family (or my husband’s) on Christmas Day, I wouldn’t trade our family tradition for anything.
Do you travel or stay put for the holidays? Share your stories with us!
That just sounds perfect. I am all for staying at home. This year my first daughter will be 3. I am so excited because this is the first year she really gets it. I am sure I bought too much stuff but she’s 3, it doesn’t take much to impress her.
Loved hearing your story. Please let us know the site to track Santa…I’ve heard of that before but haven’t known where to go. Sounds fun.
You can track Santa at http://www.noradsanta.org. It’s actually a really cool site and tracks him around the world. One of the funniest things my son has ever said to me was last year … he came running into the room and excitedly said “Mommy, Mommy! Santa is in AFRICA!” so I asked him if he knew where Africa was? And he looked at me so matter-of-factly and said “It’s across the pond”! Too funny :)Enjoy!
So glad you wrote about this as I keep going back and forth about what I think about traveling for the holidays. I actually enjoy going home to my parents house for a couple of reasons: 1) my children (boys, ages 4 and 2) are still young enough where they probably won’t remember much from these first couple of Christmases except through photos. They love to travel (and nap at least 1/2 the way of the 4 hour drive) and get excited about going to their grandparents so I figure “travel while you can” 2)my parents are in their mid-70s and only have so many more years in them of getting out all of the decorations and putting up a tree. Now that I’ve experienced all that’s involved with getting my house decorated, I fully understand how exhausting it can be and can appreciate that my parents might decide to scale back in the future; however, in the meantime, it’s still fun for them to decorate with all the things I enjoyed growing up and to see my little ones walk in the door with wide-eyes waiting to see (and of course touch) all the fun and pretty things. My four year old gets kick out of seeing all the ornamnets I made, etc. hanging on their tree. 3) I actually enjoy watching my children go through the same routines and experience the same traditions I did as a little girl. It’s surreal and magical at the same time, and I know it means the world to my parents. Along those lines, here are three of our favorite family traditions: 1)on Christmas morning, we weren’t allowed to come into the family room when we woke up; instead, my parents always had us wait in the hallway until we were officially “called in”. They were busy getting everything ready like the fire started, the Christmas music playing, the cameras set out, the “traditional breakfast” (more below) set out, etc….all in an attempt to make the atmosphere just perfect, and it always was. The fun for me and my sister was the waiting and the anticipation as my parents scurried about preparing everything; we would giggle and try to guess what was around the corner. I love the idea of being “invited in” because it has such an element of anticipation and surprise to it and makes the intial reation so magical. We now do this with our children, and they love it. 2) Only on Christmas morning and on every Christmas morning, we have fresh squeezed orange juice and Sara Lee coffee cake. The thing that is special about the orange juice is that it is prepared the evening before and it was always either my Dad’s job or my Grandfather’s job to do. This made them feel important and was a way for them to contribute to the festivities. There’s nothing better than fresh squeezed OJ and oh, the memories it brings back for me (especially of my Grandparents) 3) Finally, my Mom always would wrap their very special, “big” gift to me in red wrapping paper with wooden figures of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs taped to the box. When I saw that gift, I knew it was going to be my favorite one and would save it for last. I’m still trying to find little train figures or special wrapping paper or something for my boys to designate that special gift because I remember how fun that was for me. Sorry for the long “blog” but I’m a huge fan of traditions and can’t wait to hear from others. Thanks to CSP for helping me develop some traditions of our own such as the Daniel Stowe Holiday Lights at the Garden which we visited this year for the first time…a “keeper” as far as traditions go.
Susie, I’m reading your comment and am tearing up! I LOVE your traditions! They sound magical indeed. I think I may try that invitation thing out this year since last year, my monkeys tried to start their festivities at 3:30am!! Do not ever apologize for a long comment – we read every single one and enjoy every word. Thanks for reading and engaging in our site. Your contributions are priceless:-)