It’s actually Christmas as I type this at 12:28 am! We just finished wrapping and assembling our gifts and ate the Santa cookies and the Reindeer food. We had one close call with a coughing attack but we made it, unscathed! Note to self, next year I need to add WAY more wine to this mix!
So you heard from all of the Smarty team about their Christmas traditions and it’s my turn. My traditions start the week after Thanksgiving and roll right on up to Christmas morning. One tradition that I started three years ago is for my girls to host a cookie-decorating party for all of their friends and ask that the attendees bring a toy for a child their age (see photo above of hostesses this year). We started this when the girls were in kindergarten and we invited all of the girls in their class. The next two years, we recruited other hostesses and invited the entire grade of girls, all 52 of them! The girls enjoy the holiday cheer and the chance to mingle with all of their friends as well as get exposed to the gift of giving. They pick a charity and coordinate the drop-off of the gifts so they can see first-hand the families who really need help during the holidays. It’s truly magical!
Another thing I have done for my children is to hang an ornament with a photo from that year for each child. I’m hoping the photos will last through the years and that the children will get a few good laughs into adulthood (“mom really made me wear THAT?!”). I have collected ornaments for myself since high school. Every time I go to a cool place, I pick an ornament to bring home for our tree and I really enjoy reminiscing about all of our travels while trimming our tree. I have a beautiful collection of McKee Botanical Garden ornaments from my home town of Vero Beach that I will pass on to the children – so far, I have 14 of them. My mother-in-law buys these for me and this year, she overheard a shopper that the 2007 ornament was fetching close to $200 on eBay. For a moment, I thought of submitting my entire collection to help offset this economy, but I think my children will really enjoy these on their trees someday! I also save every single hand-made ornament from all of my children so my tree is a true hodge-podge, but I love it! This is the first year that I had somewhat of a theme to it since Ashley H taught me how to make my own fabulous bow with perfectly hanging ribbons to compliment it! Let’s just say, this year I went bow crazy but didn’t break the bank while doing it!
One of my favorite family traditions involves cooking. I rarely take the time to cook elaborate recipes since my kids like mostly plain foods. But my grandfather was the best cook I know and I make all of his recipes during the holidays and think of him as I add every ingredient. Our Christmas breakfast always includes a special egg casserole and hot sauce (we like it spicy in our family!). This is also nice for me to bake recipes that remind me of my home growing up. All of our family is at least a 6-hour drive from here, so Christmas is a time for us to start our own traditions. The first few years included a few tears for sure, however now that I have children, I can’t imagine waking up on Christmas morning anywhere else but home.
My last and most meaningful tradition involves the Christmas mass. I can remember being an angel in a Christmas mass as a kindergartener and then couldn’t wait to get promoted to midnight mass in middle school! That seems decades from now but I know the time will be here before I know it. Today at our service, the priest asked the 2nd-grade children to come up to the altar while he delivered his sermon. He asked each of them if they knew why they were here. The very first child answered “to celebrate Baby Jesus’ birthday.” I was not surprised, but definitely impressed. They know deep down that it’s not all about getting presents – I know mine are still trying to figure out how Santa knows Jesus and what the real relationship is there!
Our newest tradition is the Elf on the Shelf. I’m feeling a little guilty right about now that our elf, Leta, may have been a little harsh at times! She left notes often and kept these kids on track for sure! I’m thinking of a way to incorporate the elf’s cousin, the Easter bunny, into our early 2009 program!
Merry, merry to you and your families! Thank you all for living Smarty every day and for waking up to CSP! 2008 has been a year of happiness, unbearable sadness and everything in between. I’m so honored to have shared it all with each and every one of you. Here’s to another fabulous year!