Holidays take on such new meaning as a parent, when you get to experience them through your children’s eyes. And I’m not just talking about opening presents on Christmas morning.
I’m talking about baking Christmas cookies or singing Christmas carols. Just watching my husband walk our first son down the street to look at Christmas lights after work every December night was a preview of how awesome the holidays were going to be.
In four short years, we’ve compiled a pretty decent list of family holiday traditions, adding one or two new ones during the advent season each year. It’s the best kind of holiday “to do” list, that’s short on stress and tall on fun. I thought I would share some of them here to offer a little holiday inspiration to other parents and maybe draw a little feedback in return of other ideas!
Some are things we’ve done and want to do again. Some are things we haven’t done and want to try. There is SO much going on around Charlotte, especially this time of year, and you can come up with holiday fun without even leaving the house.
Our church (First Presbyterian) holds a Christmas singalong every year the first Sunday in December. It always fills up fast. Families are invited to the fellowship hall to sing Christmas carols with the church choirs, eat Christmas cookies and wear the most Christmas-y outfit you can muster. All that self-consciousness you might have felt as a teenager gets thrown out the window as a mom and you can belt out carols to your heart’s content. This singalong has quickly become The event that officially gets me in the Christmas spirit.
Make Christmas cookies.
This year we’ll have three sets of little hands wanting to participate, now that our twins are 2, so it’s going to be mess, a giant production….and FUN. I’m hoping to lower clean-up stress by inviting our part-time nanny and relatives to help, but I can’t wait to see at least three happy flour-puffed faces (and more if I get the nerve up to invite friends) followed by three icing-and-sprinkle-filled faces. This is one activity I won’t be pawning off on the preschool teachers. I want in!!!
Magic of Christmas Symphony Concert.
My husband came up with this tradition, and I have fallen in love with it too. The Charlotte Symphony puts on an amazing series of Christmas concerts every year, and this is the one-hour family show. It’s held at 11 a.m. at Knight Theatre on a mid-December Saturday (the 14th this year). It’s kid-friendly and has great pre-show activities like a “musical petting zoo” to try instruments. While the Symphony suggests bringing children ages 4 or older, we’ve taken my oldest son since he was 10 months old and never had a problem. He gets so intrigued by the music, he just listens, jaw agape. We’ll see what happens with two more toddlers in tow this year. Wish us luck!
I need to get the nerve up to try driving our crew to McAdenville, “Christmas Town USA,” because it’s so cool and so close by! But I still can’t picture keeping three young boys up well past bedtime to inch along in that kind of traffic. I do want to up our Christmas lights game this year, though, so contemplating a trip to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for “Speedway Christmas,” which gives you four million lights to look at over a 3.75-mile course. On Thursdays through Sundays, the Christmas Village is open on the infield too.
Children’s Christmas Eve Service.
So many churches do a great job with family services on Christmas Eve, but it’s hard to beat the one put on by Covenant Presbyterian Church. Their family service is so kid-friendly I actually felt comfortable bringing three boys ages 2 and under last year, and that was to sit in pews at “big church!” It starts at 11 a.m. (perfect pre-lunch-then-nap activity.) It lasts just 20 minutes. And most importantly, it includes live Nativity animals on the lawn afterward. We’re talking a camel, sheep, donkey, you name it.
**When the boys get a little older, I’m hoping to add The Polar Express Train Ride in Spencer, N.C. and a trip to the Penland Christmas Tree Farm in York to this list.