Well hello there, all you lovely people! Can I just tell you how absolutely thrilled I am to see homes with Christmas lights on their porches, picture-after-picture of Christmas trees on Instagram, and the fact that it is now socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music 24/7?! It makes my heart happy, ya know?
If it wasn't clear already, I LOVE tradition. I am the type of girl who needs to do the same thing every single year. If we made a gingerbread house in 1999 then we sure as heck better still be making a gingerbread house in 2016 (and every year leading up to it)!
I'm not saying that it's best for me to be quite so obsessed with tradition and sentimentality, but I do think that tradition can be a whole lot of fun if it's done in the right way.
Celebrating the Right WayThe right way to celebrate Christmas is to focus on the good- the hope- that we are glorifying and making known during this time. The right way is to look for opportunities to enjoy family, friends, creativity, and your talents. The right way to celebrate is to think of others, not just ourselves.
A good way to have a right focus is to create traditions. No, traditions are not the reason we celebrate, but they make the celebration much more fun and memorable. Traditions give us extra ways to plan, create, give, and enjoy the people and things that surround us in our day-to-day lives. And the great thing about traditions is that they can be personalized to fit each family or individual.
Have a "Tree Day"Growing up, my family would always take the day after Thanksgiving (or around there) to put up the Christmas tree and other decorations. We would turn on our favorite Christmas music and work until it was done. I, of course, was a little less helpful as a kid, but I have always loved tree day!
Thankfully, Taylor was fine with continuing this tradition, so that's what we've done for the past two years. It has been so nice to keep this tradition going and having my awesome hubby to share it with.
Make Gingerbread HousesI love making gingerbread houses! It's messy, and time-consuming (for the perfectionist), but I think they are so stinkin' cute and I love working on them with my favorite people :) Plus, you get to eat candy and hope for the best when you run out of "decorations" to go on the house ;)
Unfortunately, this year we will not be making them. We have a mouse family that has decided to make our home their own and we figure that having a completely edible house sitting around would be counter-productive to getting the mice to leave. haha.
BUT, just because the Cooks won't be making gingerbread houses doesn't mean you can't! Have at it!
Watch the PeanutsDoes anyone else love Charlie Brown as much as I do? Nearly every year, my family always watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. We haven't done it as faithfully the last few years, but I want to make sure that changes this year. There's nothing like good ol' "Chuck" and Linus (my favorite). Plus, I love how Charles Schulz (the creator) delivers a wonderful message of faith in a very nuanced and simple way. That takes a lot of talent and I admire him for that.
Bake LOTS of Christmas CookiesI don't know about you, but when I was growing up, Christmas time smelled a lot like cookies! Mama was always baking something yummy- chocolate chip cookies, wedding cookies, Rice Crispy Treats, cheese biscuits, Kiss cookies, and I'm sure there are more that I'm not remembering!
This year I have only made cakepops so far, but last year I made chocolate chip cookies and raspberry thumbprint cookies that definitely need to make a come-back this Christmas.
I'd also like to make some good ol' fashioned sugar cookies, decorated in Christmas shapes and colors. My RD in college use to do that with her girls every year and they had such a good time. I'd really like to implement that into my traditions. Thanks, Michelle, for the inspiration!
Create, Create, and Create Some MoreThere's something about the holidays that make me want to be creative. Maybe it's the crafty overload that happens on Pinterest, or maybe it's because my mom does a lot of crafty things, but as soon as it gets cold and Christmas music starts playing, I just want to be the best crocheting-wreath-making-baker-crafter the world has ever seen! Forget the fact that I have very little patience and a need to get it all done quickly...that's beside the point ;)
So this year, I want to make sure I am taking advantage of my desire to craft. I just completed a large candle order for one of my best friends, but other than that I haven't done as much this year. Hopefully I will get some time between now and Christmas!
Make an OrnamentAlong the same lines, consider making an ornament or two (or 20) part of your Christmas traditions. Making ornaments is super-simple and doesn't require much skill, money, or time. There are all sorts of ornament tutorials on Pinterest if you can't think of anything in particular you'd like to do.
This is something that both kids and adults can really enjoy together.
Send Those Dang Christmas CardsSending Christmas cards is something that I always want to do and plan to do. But last year was the first year that I actually got some sent. This year I have a list of people that I would like to send Christmas cards to, but they really need to go out this week.
Christmas cards are a very simple way to spread some love and Christmas cheer with others. It doesn't take much on the senders part, but it could really mean the world to the recipient. So even though it is easy to put sending Christmas cards on the back-burner, try to make them a part of your holiday traditions.
Read About Christ's BirthI highly recommend reading about the birth of Jesus in the Bible. Since Christmas was originally intended to celebrate this event, why not read about it? As a Christian, I think it is particularly important, but even if you aren't religious, why not read it along with your other holiday books? No harm, no foul :)
Set Up a NativitySetting up a nativity is one tradition that I really like because it's a way to show that we celebrate Christmas for spiritual reasons, not just for the presents and yummy food (though we like those reasons too).
A nativity is certainly not a requirement, but they are pretty, decorative, and a great reminder of the reason for the season.
There are so many different ways to welcome in this holiday season, and so many ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Whether you want something serious or fun, simple or grand, most everyone looks forward to some sort of tradition. I hope that this list gives you a good start and I hope you are able to make these traditions (and many others) your own. Have fun- Christmas is coming!!!!
What Christmas traditions do you love?
*This post was originally published on 12/01/15. It has since be revised and edited.