Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Week Traditions

I started writing this blogpost with the goal of telling a little about the Christmas traditions our family does and some of the reasons why we do them.  It ended up being a little lengthier than I originally anticipated, but it is my hope that by sharing them that they will not only be a record to my own family, but also provide inspiration and ideas for others who are looking for ways to add to their own traditions.   I've listed these in order by date, which is why our anniversary is listed first despite it not being as much a part of our traditional Christmas as just a recap of what we did to celebrate this year. 

Anniversary: (these aren't really traditions as much as they are just a recap of what we did for our anniversary this year) 
1.  Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe--we chose this restaurant because of its proximity to the theater and didn't really have high expectations for it, however the service was fantastic, and the food ended up tasting excellent.   Other than the really loud music they play, which made conversing a little difficult,  it was a surprisingly enjoyable place to eat and we would definitely go back there sometime.
2.  Watched "Pippin" at the National Theater--Glen was familiar with the music, but neither one of us knew the story at all.   The performance itself was amazing, the music and the acrobatics, but we were a little bothered by how risquĂ© some of the costumes and dances were.   Half-way through we were not sure we were going to like it, but in the end we loved the story and the message.  Now we both are huge fans of the music and have yet another Broadway CD to add to our collection.  Someone recently asked me what kind of music we liked, and I had to laugh when I realized that we are total Broadway fans.   We do listen to other music (classical, a cappella, and easy listening) sometimes, but day in and day out, we mostly listen to soundtracks from Wicked, Les Mis, Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, etc.  I've got a  station on Pandora that we listen to every day, that plays a great mix of these kinds of songs.

Sunday before Christmas:
Christmas program at church--our ward always does a beautiful job of performing music and sharing messages that really help bring the spirit of Christ into Christmas.  It's one of my favorite parts of the season!
Christmas in Bethlehem dinner--I already mentioned this in a previous post, but it's something that we really enjoy doing sometime during the Christmas season.   It's a dinner that helps us reflect on the life of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve:
1. Last minute shopping--as hard as we try, we always still have shopping to do on Christmas Eve.  With Glen's long hours at work lately, it was an even greater necessity than usual this year.  
2. Dinner at Cheesecake Factory--a couple years ago I got fed up with trying to prepare a fancy dinner in the midst of all the other Christmas festivities,  so we threw cooking out the window and now go out every Christmas Eve.  The restaurant is always  a step up in cost and niceness from where we'd normally ever take our family and everyone gets really excited about it.    It's usually Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory.
3. Open pajamas--  This tradition is one that carried down from Glen's family.  It started out as just everyone just opening any old random pajamas we found at the store, but over the years it's become this     epic--find everyone in the family awesome matching pajamas that outdo last year's pajamas-- kind of quest.  The tradition means a lot to me and despite the fact that one of my kids completely hates it (you probably don't have to wonder very hard who it is), this is a tradition that will continue for a long time…even to when we have grandkids someday.  
4. Christmas devotional-- We use these booklets and sing Christmas songs and read scriptures that help us remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas Day:
1.  Wake up / pillage stockings / make breakfast--  We are not super early risers at our house, so little ones usually start rolling out of bed around 7:00am, while the rest of us usually make an appearance around 8:00am.
2. Eat  breakfast (see picture below)--Emma woke up extra early this year and made our  breakfast of homemade croissants, eggs, and bacon.  The croissants took two whole days to make and were perfectly flaky and delicious.
3.  Official Christmas morning pajama photo -- We are probably the only family in America that forces our children outside in their pajamas every Christmas morning,  so we can get  a decent shot of us in the natural light.  I'm pretty sure our neighbors think we're quite weird and we have an oldest son who thinks that this tradition is akin to torture of the worst kind. (see picture below)
4. Open presents -- We take turns opening presents, going around in a circle, youngest to oldest.  This year was the year of the socks, with everyone in the family receiving at least a couple packs of socks!  Weirdly, no one was disappointed by receiving socks in the slightest.   Only one child got mad / jealous  this year {same child as usual}, but luckily after an afternoon nap they composed themselves well and at least feigned gratitude from then on.
5.  Enjoy presents and intermittently snooze throughout the afternoon--With one of the kids up until 2:30am working on a treat order (caramel popcorn), then Glen had to go with her to deliver it at about 3:00am, we were all extra tired.  Snoozing came easily to all.
6.  Eat a very simple dinner-- Once again, I decided that I don't really love to bog down my Christmas with lots of cooking, so we opt for very simple food on Christmas day.   This year we had tomato/mozzarella paninis that we all helped make.   Someone chopped the tomatoes, another child spread the pesto, I sliced the bread, another one sliced the fresh mozzarella into smaller slices, another added the balsamic glaze, and another manned the panini press cooking them to golden perfection.   It was no stress for anyone and still completely delicious!
6.   Go to a movie--We don't really go to full-price movie theaters very often, so when a couple of years ago, we decided to make going to a movie together a new  Christmas night tradition for us, the whole family approved.  This year we watched  Hobbit 3.  It was a little intense in parts for Adam and Ellie, but we considered it a little prep time for Spencer's upcoming Make-a-Wish trip, which randomly looks like it's finally going to happen in a couple of months.   We're still not holding our breaths, but the process has progressed further than it ever has before and we are all VERY EXCITED about it!
The year of the sock!

Day after Christmas:
Family dinner--It's not always the day after Christmas, but sometime in the day or two around Christmas we gather all together for a family dinner with the East coast Crains.   We were sad not to have Matt and Karey this year, since they recently moved to England, but, as always, it was a blast to gather all together with those of us that do live out here.   All of my kids except Ellie  are significantly older than the rest of the cousins, so I thought it was a little odd (and pretty funny) that two of my kids came home from the day with injuries inflicted by one of their  cousins!   Adam got  a fat lip when five-year-old Davin head-butted him in the chin and Emma got a bloody nose when the same cousin accidentally  whacked her in the face with his foot while doing a somersault.   Davin is an energetic little peanut who would never hurt anyone on purpose,  which is why the injuries struck me as extra funny.

Miscellaneous Christmas:
Service--We often adopt a family for the 12-days of Christmas.  This year, though, we decided to do it a little differently and do 12 separate acts of service for others.   We are not done yet, but we hope to have completed our 12 acts before the end of Christmas break (next weekend).
Christmas cards/letters--  It really is one of my favorite parts of the season.  I love hearing from old friends, I love decorating with the cards, and I even love the process of creating the cards and writing the letters.
Treats--We usually bring plates of goodies to at least a few people and then end up eating the rest of them ourselves.
Trip to the temple lights--We usually watch a performance, visit the nativity exhibit,  and walk around outside for a while.   WE actually haven't done it yet this year, so we need to go this week.

Emma's delicious Christmas morning breakfast.  It took her two days to make those beautiful croissants!

Right before eating Christmas breakfast!

Ellie snuggling up with AnnaLisa during our Christmas Eve devotional. 

Without any living room furniture yet, we were forced to be pretty casual  during our devotional this year. 

Some kids do not like our Christmas morning pajama photo shoot very well.  Can you tell who? 

1 comment:

Valerie H. said...

Did you know youre great Aunt Marilyns family has an Adam's Eve celebration every year?

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