As children, we lived for the holidays. We longed for dressing up at Halloween, followed by all that fabulous food at Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Or at least my siblings and I did!
It’s safe to say that my love of Christmas goes back to before I was born. I mean, I can’t imagine who I would have inherited this love from?
As the holidays grew near, a form of “crazy” overtook our mom. It was her mission to make sure that everything was just perfect going into Christmas. Christmas vacation would start and it was a mad rush to clean the house from top to bottom to prepare for what was to come: family, shopping, presents, baking. She’d be happy knowing that she passed this “crazy” onto me.
Growing up, we had our own family traditions. Christmas Eve alternated between our home and our cousin’s home. We would all have dinner together, open gifts and attend Midnight Mass in our Christmas best. After Mass, we would tiredly go to our respective homes and fall fast to sleep. We didn’t want to risk Santa and his reindeer skipping our house on Christmas Eve because we were still awake!
At last! Christmas morning was upon us! Without fail, you could guarantee that I was the first of my siblings to wake up. I would make my way through the bedrooms upstairs to corral everyone. We would all quietly make our way downstairs through the living room, stopping to sneak a peak at the Christmas tree to make sure Santa stopped, and then to our parent’s bedroom. It may have only been 6 am, but for a child filled with Christmas excitement, that was oversleeping! We all gathered around the Christmas tree as my mom would pass out presents. Each of being excited as the others opened theirs. This was our Christmas spirit.
After we were done opening our gifts, we would play with our new toys, or model our new clothes, while dad made the most phenomenal breakfast! I can still taste it all these years later! Pancakes. Biscuits and gravy. Eggs. Sausage.
Let’s fast-forward to present day. My husband and I met in 2011. We were still too new a couple at Christmas-time to have introduced each other to our families, so to accommodate Christmas traditions then wasn’t a concern. But by 2012, we had moved in together. With that obviously came talks of holidays and how we would spend them.
After my mom and sister passed away, holidays changed in my family. My dad was open to not necessarily celebrating how we always had, so we changed it up. It would become our new tradition to celebrate Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with my husband’s family. In 2014, we got baby fever! Baby was due literally at any time. We kept our plans for celebrating Christmas with our families the same, knowing plans could change in a heartbeat and this would likely be our last year celebrating how we had been.
My husband and I started a couple of traditions of our own over the last few years! We started cutting down our own Christmas tree. I always had a real tree growing up and I was adamant about keeping that tradition alive and making it one of our own. We found the perfect family Christmas tree farm to make this happen every year now.
We also have our “Merry Christmas Eve Box”, in which we each get new jammies, a family Christmas movie and Christmas socks. This is in its sixth year and going strong! Three years ago started the tradition of Christmas morning breakfast. It’s still a relatively new tradition, as we work to find that perfect recipe to make every year! But I think we may be on the verge of having perfected the perfect breakfast casserole.
Welcome to the year of “struggle and decision making”. It was in 2015 that we talked about wanting to start our own family traditions now that there is a baby. And we did just that. It was our choice to want to be in our own home on Christmas day. Especially with a new baby. We took our “major holidays” and decided to alternate them every year, celebrating one with each of our families and then changing it up the next year. This was met with some resistance, but we persevered!
Breaking tradition, but starting our own, we offered our home on Christmas Day, some took us up on our gathering offer and others did not. I’m okay with it. This is about our family and our new traditions. It’s about being home for the holidays.
Speaking of which, our tree topping tradition is strong! Our daughter is going to be the official Christmas tree topper from here on out!
By the way, our first Christmas dinner was a success last year, despite having a sick baby. We anxiously await another successful year!
How about you? What are some traditions your family has? Do you struggle with wanting to start new traditions, but worry about hurting someone’s feelings?