Every family has its own sets of traditions around the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just approach the season of joy in a secular fashion, it is hard to deny that it is the most wonderful time of the year. Here at Mumbling Mommy, we wanted to let you in on some of our most cherished holiday family traditions. We would love to hear yours too in the comment section.
Be blessed this holiday season!
With two very little ones at home, we are just in the process of starting traditions that the kids will enjoy as they grow up over the years. Some of our favorite family Christmas traditions include:
· – Enjoying some of the classic Christmas shows as a family, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Mickey’s Christmas Carol and Frosty the Snowman. I think we all remember watching these as children ourselves, and I still love them today! And I hope that my children will like growing up with these well-known Christmas shows.
· – Sneaking little things for all of the members of the family into the stockings. It is fun to look over at our fireplace and see that someone’s stocking looks a little more full than the day before. My husband and I both love picking out items for one another, and the kids and filling up the stockings. In years to come, I think this will be tradition that the kids very much enjoy!
|Handprint and footprint ornaments|
· – Adding more ornaments to the Christmas tree. We like to incorporate a new ornament related to both of the children every year. We have made baby hand and footprint ornaments that are a very special keepsake for Max and Halle before their first Christmas, and I love seeing them hanging on the tree. I anticipate each year, we will add an ornament of the children’s choice relating to something they love.
– Singing and Dancing to Christmas Music. While I have to say, John and Halle don’t do much of the singing and dancing, they do happily watch Max and I partake. There is nothing like listening to Christmas music and dancing with your 2-year-old!
Music always has a way of invoking strong feelings in me; whether it’s a song that reminds me of a fun night with friends, the one I danced to at my wedding, or a childhood holiday favorite. Every year at Christmas, my family would play “John Denver & the Muppets, A Christmas Together” while we decorated and opened presents. Seems like a small tradition, but to us it holds special meaning. And we play it on repeat. We listened to the record, then the CD and now I have the album on ITunes. Another fun tradition was losing it nearly every year, and my parents having to buy it again!
Since I have married and moved away, I have spent less Christmas mornings with my family. We tend to travel to Ohio first and then make our way to Florida to ring in the New Year. Last year we went down for Thanksgiving instead, marking my first Christmas without them. This year, due to pregnancy travel restrictions, my husband and I will be spending our first yuletide morning just the two of us (ironically it is also the last with baby coming next spring).
But no matter where I am, each holiday season I listen to John Denver and the Muppets; Alfie the Christmas Tree, Where the River Meets the Sea and my favorite green guy Kermit singing The Christmas Wish- on repeat. And each season I cry and sing along, prompting the inevitable gushy message to my parents and brothers, while my husband gives me a puzzled look. The songs are a reminder of my childhood and family, and in some ways make me wish I hadn’t wanted to grow up so badly.
I can’t imagine the holidays without my Muppets, and can’t wait to share those beautiful heartwarming songs with my son. I am already counting the days until he can sit around the Christmas tree listening to them with his grandparents and uncles.
By Heather N.
When I was single, my (also singleish) Dad would come over Christmas morning with an awesome Cream Cheese Pastry, fruit salad and champagne. (My side of the family is fun, wild, and indulgent!) After I got married, Dad would still come over Christmas morning, but less now we have kids as we want our little family time too. This pastry is such a part of Christmas for me now that I have begun making it myself…though it doesn’t taste as great as my Dad’s! Here is the recipe:
Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Slices
from Angie Wojdyla, via Peggy Roberts, via Jim Curlee, via Heather Novak
1 pkg Dry Yeast
1/4 c hot water
1 t sugar
1 cup butter
1.5 cups flour
1/4 t salt
4 egg yolks
Dissolve dry yeast in the 1/4 c hot water. Add 1 t sugar and let stand till bubbles rise. Sift four. Add one cup butter or oleo and salt. Work like for pie crust. After stirring a little I use my hands to mix well.
Divide the dough into two parts. Press one half of the dough on a small cookie sheet, say 10 x 14”. Use your hands and cover entire sheet. Brush with egg whites, saving some for other half. Then make filling.
2- 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract (Jim Curlee addition)
Cream together until no lumps … very creamy! Spread filling over top of crust.
Take pieces of remaining dough and roll out with rolling pin. It does not have to be all one piece, they will bake together, but cover entire top of filling. Brush top with remaining egg white.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.
When cool, frost with your favorite glazed icing, add nuts if desired. (Iced glazing recipe: 2 C Powdered sugar, 1/4 c milk, 2 T almond extract + sprinkle chopped walnuts. Jim Curlee )
Cut in slices about 1” x 3” to serve.
(Add champagne and fruit salad, and let me know what you think!)
By Heather C.
|My family, circa 2005|
Ever since I was little, my family has done a Secret Santa gift exchange. Years ago, my parents, aunts and uncles would draw names at Thanksgiving. It was normally the moms that would do the picking. Each of us cousins would get one gift. This helped keep things fun (with the surprise of who picked your name) and on budget (so the family didn’t have to buy for all 14 of us cousins.) As we grew up, the parents stop being involved and us cousins would pull names and do an exchange with each other.
I’ve loved watching our Secret Santa progress through the years. We’ve evolved to doing it as more of a white elephant than gift exchange now because we all have families of our own and getting together to pick names got too hard. Our own immediate family has carried on the tradition though. It is just my parents, two brothers, my sister-in law and my husband so it’s a small exchange but it still brings us all together at Christmas laughing and having fun and focusing on our family time more than an abundance of presents.By Rachael
|Reading a holiday book with my girls last year.|
My siblings would probably agree with me that, as kids, our family had two main Christmas traditions. First, we always went to the candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve. It was an opportunity to slow down and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. It was so important to my family that, if our church wasn’t having a Christmas Eve service, we’d go that night to another church that did.
Our second tradition was that, after attending the Christmas Eve service, we’d drive around town and look at Christmas lights. I grew up in Northwest Indiana on the shores of Lake Michigan, and we always drove through the large light display the city set up in the park near the beach entrance. I enjoyed that family time when all of us were bundled in the car, chatting happily, listening to Christmas music, and anticipating the next day’s celebration.
Now that I’m married and have two girls of my own, my husband and I try to carry on our own favorite family traditions while remembering that flexibility is good. We haven’t always made it to Christmas Eve services with our daughters because other family events sometimes fall on that night, but this year we’ll be there and I’ll be singing in the choir.
Also now that our firstborn daughter is old enough to really appreciate the holiday decorations, we’ll get out with our girls to see the Christmas lights. It won’t happen on Christmas Eve because we’ll need to tuck the girls in bed after church, but we will set aside time after dinner a few days before Christmas to drive through the nicer neighborhoods in our area and admire the holiday sparkle.
When I was a kid, my mom used an improvised Advent calendar of sorts to count down the 25 days until Christmas. Every day, my brothers and I would open up a box with a number and get something small as a gift. Sometimes it was just a piece of candy, other times the note told us where to look to track down a board game or decoration for the house that all three of us were to share. She told us that the gifts came from a sneaky elf that left the presents at night when no one was looking. A little bit creepy… but so is Santa, right? While I don’t really remember the actual gifts, I remember the fun ways the “elf” used to leave things. Sometimes there was a scavenger hunt. Sometimes the directions on finding the gift were written backwards so we needed a mirror to decipher what it said. Sometimes clues were written in candy.
Last year I decided to do the same for my kids. I know that the Elf on the Shelf is all the rage, and it does look like fun, but I have a special place in my heart for the invisible elf of my own childhood instead. I don’t have the boxes my mom did, so I just write a note with the number of days til Christmas and a poem in cursive (have to disguise my handwriting, you know) next to a gift. This year I went to the dollar store and bought inexpensive decorations, candy, green cups with crazy straws and mini snow globes. Some nights I forget to leave out a gift and have to get creative when the kids are awake before me, wondering why the elf didn’t come. Last week I grabbed a bag of Twizzlers as the three oldest stood around the kitchen table pondering why the elf had not left a gift. I spelled out the words “11 days” on my living room couch and let them find it as they wandered the house playing. I’m sure my two oldest are already a little suspicious, but if they are anything like I was, they will keep those doubts to themselves and just play along anyway.
One other tradition we started last year was baking cookies for the service workers in our community. While I first envisioned it as a fun activity I could do with the kids, I discovered that they quickly got bored. It generally ends up being just me for several hours in the kitchen, listening to Christmas carols and baking up a storm. If you know me well, you know I very rarely bake anything; this year I baked a total of 20 dozen cookies in four varieties for service workers, though. The kids help me frost the cut-out cookies and package everything.We add a note with our thanks and family name. This year we went together as a family and dropped off cookie packages at our library, police station, fire station and the kids’ grandpa’s office. We also took a big package to the high school students that teach my daughter’s preschool class because they were in the middle of an intense week of CPR training. I get some baking therapy and the kids get to give something that is truly appreciated. We don’t have much to give to others, but this is something we can afford that gets everyone into the holiday spirit. I look forward to adding more places to cookie-drop list next year!
I can always remember wishing for sunshine and warm weather in the winters while growing up in the Midwest, but once I moved to Texas I longed for a snowy Christmas. Back in 2006, after eating Christmas dinner my husband and I decided to take a drive in the city, searching for some sort of holiday reminisce. We discovered a neighborhood called River Oaks which had numerous homes with beautiful holiday lights. This neighborhood is an elite area with multi million dollar homes, filled with holiday decorate each year. Ever since that drive, we go to River Oaks each year to look at lights with our family.
As a nuclear family – my son is 4.5 years old – we haven’t had a ton of time yet to develop Christmas traditions. I’m only now starting to realize that time is flying by and each year that passes is one that I have missed the chance to start something.
So far, our biggest tradition is to go to my husband’s grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve. She loves the holidays and literally shops all year long. Each person who is in attendance gets 6-10 gifts. It’s a total mess, and everyone loves it.My son already knows to look forward to it!
This year, we realized (well really, my mom pointed out) that our son doesn’t really understand that Christmas is about giving as well as receiving. So we took him last weekend to choose some toys for kids who wouldn’t have any otherwise. I was surprised, but he really seemed to “get” it. He didn’t ask for anything for himself, and seemed to genuinely enjoy choosing things for other kids. We are most definitely going to make this into a tradition. I have actually thought about working more money into the holiday budget for next year so that we can do this on a larger scale. We will be taking the toys tomorrow to a local radio station that helps needy families in our immediate community. I’m really excited to see his reaction!
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