Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Month of Traditions

Growing up in our family of 6, the passage of time was marked by the coming and going of seasonal traditions. The food, decorations, and family gatherings were predictable and cherished in every sense of the word. My parents constantly instilled the importance of traditions in our family. Now that I have 2 boys of my own, I love mixing in the traditions I grew up with and the traditions our family of four has created. With my own boys now 6 and 8, they seem to not only crave the traditions we have created, but also understand the importance of them. They really took the lead on a lot of holiday festivities, making sure we covered all of our favorites.

Here's a look back at December.

Buddy the Elf joined our family last December, and let me tell you that I am all in when it comes to this particular tradition. I resisted the elf for so long even though the boys desperately wanted one. Then last year, in a moment of clarity, it hit me that the boys would only be into this kind of Christmas magic for a few more years. Our elf arrived and we haven't looked back since. I actually get a little sad when he goes back to the North Pole for the year.

We made him some elf sized cookies on one of our many baking days.

And he left us a grocery list...

 During the month of December, Buddy also played with the boys' blocks, cars, stuffed animals. He played Checkers one night and played a game of Yahtzee, in which he apparently rolled all Yahtzees. He wrote letters back and forth to both boys and managed to not get chewed up by Kylo. He brought the boys some new pajamas on his last day with us on Christmas Eve and promised to tell Santa that the boys have good. I love this tradition!

The Magic Tree

We changed up this tradition this year. Normally, we go to the West side of Columbia to view the magic tree, but this year, they decorated a new one on the South side of town - much closer to us. We went right at dusk, so there weren't a ton of people there yet. No matter how many times we see this thing, it's always incredible and the boys absolutely love it.

Game Nights

Growing up, we always played games around the holidays. It's such an easy way to be with family, sans screens, and well let's face - it's just not the holidays without some healthy competition. Our games of choice of late have been Trash and Yahtzee.

Holiday Baking

Here's another tradition that came straight out of my childhood. We always had a day in our house to make sugar cookies and then decorate them. If my mom had any issue with the disaster we made of the kitchen in our mission to make festive plates of goodies, she never let on. The mess is half the fun, right? Sprinkles, and chocolate, and icing... AND you get the added bonus of eating sugar for weeks.

I have acquired quite the cookie cutter collection. The metal ones came from my mom, and that rolling pin was my Grandma's.

And Eli, like always, was right at my side, rolling cookie dough like a pro.

Music Programs - 
Lex participated in his piano studio's Harpsichord Recital for the third year. It's such an amazing event and the students all get to play Baroque songs on a new instrument. It's so much fun. I love hearing them play.

Other Things to Celebrate. While Christmas is the main event in our house, our boys learned about Hanukkah last year. I don't remember how, but they started asking questions, and since I'm not Jewish, I headed straight for the library and checked out some books for them. And just like that, we celebrated Hanukkah. We broke out the menorah again this year and lit it almost every night. I recently learned that there's actually an order in which you are supposed to light the candles. I'm going to have to remember that for next year, because we didn't do it the right way this year. Our intentions were good though.

Another celebration of light this time of year is Winter Solstice. For 3 years now, we have headed to one of our favorite trails, had a camp fire with friends, and put out food for the wildlife. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions because it's a celebration of the days getting longer and let's face it, by the time Solstice rolls around, we are all ready for some longer days.

This year we hung cranberries and bird seed covered bagels.

Christmas Eve

I heard a news story recently about a report that more than half of people prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. You know, because of all the build up, traditions, and general party atmosphere. Personally, I don't think I can pick a favorite. I love everything about the Christmas season, including the days after Christmas, when the pressure is all off and you can stay in your pajamas for days.

We were lucky to get snow this Christmas Eve which set a beautiful scene for our holiday. We couldn't believe our luck since often in Missouri, even when they do call for snow, it doesn't come through for us. And then it did come through just in time for Christmas.

Eli and Kylo both licking snow off the door. Gross.

Christmas Eve evening Eli read us "Night Before Christmas."

We made some food for the reindeer. Oatmeal, carrots, marshmallows, and glitter. We also set out eggnog and cookies for Santa and left a pillow in the fireplace for his soft landing (got that idea from my big brother's family).

And just like that, we were ready for Christmas.

Whatever, however, and wherever you celebrate, I hope your holidays were magical and full of tradition!

Merry Christmas!

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