When I was growing up, my family had Christmas traditions that made our holidays unique and memorable. No matter what changed during the year, my siblings and I took comfort in knowing Christmas would be the same. Now that I'm a newlywed and starting my own family, my new husband and I are looking forward to beginning some of our own traditions. It's exciting to think that some of these Christmas traditions will carry on into our kids' lives and shape the way we all remember and look forward to Christmases for years to come. Here is a list of seven traditions my husband and I look forward to starting as we experience our first holiday season as a married couple.
1. A Christmas collection: Start a Christmas collection that we add to every year. My husband and I are going to start a collection of Christmas ornaments that we add to every year, commemorating something exciting that has happened since the last Christmas. If you start a Christmas collection, it doesn't have to be of tree ornaments - it could be buildings for a Christmas village or Precious Moments figurines. Whatever the case, pulling out the collection as you decorate each year is sure to bring back a flood of memories and illustrate how you've grown as a family over time.
2. Christmas morning breakfast: Choose a special food or meal that we will have for breakfast on Christmas morning as a family. Each year, my mom always made homemade coffee cake that we enjoyed as we opened presents on Christmas morning. Of course, my husband and I are big "breakfast people," so our traditional Christmas breakfast will probably be a little more hearty... not only will we look forward to eating it, but also to cooking it together!
3. Church service: Pick a Christmas service at our church that we will attend each year. Growing up, my family always attended the early Mass on Christmas Eve. When we showed up at church, ready to celebrate what we consider the true meaning of Christmas, it really kicked off our Christmas celebration right. Now that my husband and I are members of a new church, in a new city, we will have to choose a Mass that becomes our special Christmas Mass.
4. Holiday movie night: Start a tradition of snuggling up with hot cocoa, a fire, homemade cookies, and our favorite Christmas movies one night each year. What's Christmas without making time to watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"? Of course, if it was up to me, this would be a nightly occurrence, but having a night like this once per year is going to be something I really look forward to. We'll each pick out Christmas movies to watch, bake the cookies together, get some use out of our fireplace, and dive right into the holiday spirit.
5. Decorating the tree: Put up the tree and decorate it together while listening to Christmas music. This year, I'm going to get the first Christmas tree I've ever owned! My husband and I are both excited to put on Christmas music and decorate it together. Maybe we will even make our own Christmas mix CD that we listen to every year - that would be a fun tradition to share with our kids! We have already accumulated a few special ornaments during our relationship, and I can't wait to see that collection expand over time.
6. Looking at lights: Find particularly festive neighborhoods or towns and drive through to look at Christmas lights. When I was a little kid, we always drove through what we called "Christmas Lane" - a neighborhood made up of nice, new homes whose owners went all out with their lights and decorations every year. As local neighborhoods begin decorating their homes, my husband and I will find our own "Christmas Lane" to drive through every year.
7. Annual holiday trip: Start the tradition of visiting an annual holiday festival, ceremony, craft show, store, or whatever else strikes our fancy. When I was a kid, my mom always brought us to an annual craft bazaar at her high school. I can still call to mind the sights and smells of that event and it gets me excited for the upcoming holidays. Whether it's a local town festival or an annual trip to a Christmas superstore like Bronner's, my husband and I hope to make a special trip this year and repeat it for years to come.
As I plan these traditions, I've come to realize just how much what I did as a child affects what I'd like to do to celebrate Christmas with my own family. By starting our own Christmas traditions, we can carry on our own families' Christmas spirit and add our own personal touches over time. Let the celebration begin!
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