I'm always curious to hear of other people's traditions they partake in during Christmas. There are so many wonderful ones and it's so neat to see how other families celebrate the season.
Growing up we always had a tradition of the Christmas mouse. I have no idea how this got started or if it was handed down from a previous generation. About a week or two before Christmas we would find a gift in our stockings. It was usually a cardboard candy cane that held about $10 dollars of quarters in it. And that candy came was green and white (the colors of the bank my momma worked at) and had the name of the bank they came from (again my momma's bank). You would think we would have put that together a lot sooner... That tradition went on until I married and moved out...although now that I think about it I believe it did visit once or twice more after I was married. Another tradition that happened in my house was on Christmas Eve after my brother and I were tucked away in bed, my parents would exchange gifts to each other. The older I got the more I wanted to sit in and watch. I finally got to do that I believe the last two Christmases I was at home. We also did the cookies and milk for Santa but we also left out marshmallows for the reindeer.
Now that I am married and a parent I have tried to carry some traditions on as I've grown my family. We do the Christmas mouse and my kids always enjoy checking their stockings to see if it's came yet. It's usually just a small toy, but they loved it just the same. Kent and I exchange gifts on Christmas Eve just like my parents did. And yes, marshmallows are still left for the reindeer.
Some new traditions we have made our own over the years are cutting out pictures to make a list for Santa (for those who can't read and write yet), baking a gingerbread man, baking and decorating cookies that the kids leave out for Santa, Jeffery the Elf (he is always up to something!), on Christmas Eve after lunch we exchange gifts from each other (the kids buy each other a gift from the Santa shop at school and Nathan gets two gifts from the Dollar Tree to give to Jon Kent and Zoey), Christmas Eve we go to church and have a sweet and wonderful time with our church family, Kent reads about the birth of Jesus and why we truly celebrate Christmas and then he reads the Night Before Christmas, right before sending the kids to bed we make sure to check to see where Santa is at and then hurry the kids off to bed. The last two Christmases we have spent quietly together. Since we are in South Carolina and all our family is in Alabama we aren't rushed from here to there. We enjoy each other, enjoy our new gifts, sit down and eat a feast of a meal together and just enjoy the ease of the day. I am always so reflective and thankful for my many blessings.
A new tradition we are starting this year is gifts of family time. This year, 3 nights before Christmas Eve we will open a present. Inside will be a family activity to do together. One night the gift will have glow-in-the-dark necklaces, sticks, etc. and we will play hide-and-go seek in the dark. Another night the gift will be a night of family fun on the XBOX playing the Kinect. And a third night the gift will be silly string and the kids will be able to have a silly string fight. I am the most excited about this new tradition. The gifts the kids get will be played with and enjoyed but eventually forgotten.. but this.. family time and making memories that will be held on to forever.
This is the second Christmas I am having to spend without my momma. And I feel like last Christmas we were just going through the motions, trying to get through the day to say that we survived. I enjoyed my time with family, but I was still so raw after the unexpected loss of my momma. So this year, I want to give the gift of memories so that may kids can remember the traditions and take comfort in them when I am gone. Prayerfully that won't happen until they are well in their years, but whenever it happens I want them to have the memories to hold on to. I know it's the gift that keeps on giving from my parents.