Monday, December 17, 2012

Creating Holiday Traditions

I, like most people, grew up with a holiday tradition. Every year on Christmas Eve my mom makes prime rib and twice baked potatoes. Even with me being a vegetarian (and my sister as well for a 7 year period) she still makes the same meal, it's a tradition. We also open 1 present each. We always choose a gift from my Aunt Julie and Uncle Tiger (Warren is his real name, but everyone calls him Tiger. I still have no idea why). They always make a crafty ornament for everyone. Then, most years my sister and I would talk my parents into opening another gift, since the ornament didn't really count as a present. (That was our reasoning). Usually there would be a fire going and plenty of hot chocolate made in our Coco Motion machine. It's a hot chocolate maker. That may sound like an appliance you only use a few times a year, and it is, but it makes some kick ass hot chocolate.

Handmade Ornaments : Oscar the Grouch from a film canister, bird feeder from a prescription bottle, ice skated with soldered paperclips as blades

Early on Christmas morning presents are opened at my parents house and then a bit later we head over to my Grandma's. That's where we open the remainder of our gifts with my local Uncles, Cousins, and Grandma.

Over time things adapted to the changes in our lives. My sister moved across the country, The Captain became a part of our family, and we moved further and further away. This meant shared homes for the holidays. We still kept tradition, but also squeezed in opening gifts at the In-Laws home and visiting The Captain's Aunt and Uncle's home to spend time with his relatives. All this socializing was crammed into a short window of time because of our jobs.

We both work in a mall, so it meant working on Christmas Eve until 7pm, driving 2-7 hours to San Diego, and then repeating the process in reverse by 1 pm Christmas Day. We've only skipped this trek twice. Once just after we bought our Phoenix home and our families visited us. The other was when The First Mate was born and was just 3 months old. That's when our new traditions began.

He wasn't so sure about this whole Christmas thing.

We celebrated The First Mate's first Christmas in our Phoenix home. We had a ton of presents for him to open between the gifts we got him and the gifts from Grandparent's, Aunts, Uncle, and other relatives. He was just a few month's old, so he didn't really do much opening, but it was still fun to see him get excited over a new toy, at least for a few moments. 

This Pirate Monkey was a hit.
Yes, I am clearly more excited about this than he is.

Another tradition that started that year was Christmas in March. Since my sister lives so far away (Boston) and works retail, it is pretty much impossible for her to get away at that time of year. We made a family decision to get together and celebrate in March as if it were actually Christmas, and we did just that. My Mom even put the Christmas tree back up (or she never took it down, no one really knows. I must say that when the entire family gathered together for "Christmas" dinner, it really did feel like a true Christmas. It was also great to split the shopping into Christmas 1 and Christmas 2. It helped our budget and took away some of the stress.

The First Mate at 3 months old

We will be doing Christmas in February this time around, that's how the retail schedule worked out. Our family Christmas with just The Captain, The First Mate, and I will have to wait another year to resume. I really think it is important to include family in your traditions, but I also am determined to create our own traditions with the three of us. Once you have a child it is the perfect time (and excuse) to begin creating your personal holiday traditions.

What's your favorite Holiday tradition? Please share, I love to read your comments.

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