Making Christmas Traditions

xmas tree final

We live in the same town I grew up in, and my parents still live here. There are definite pluses to that: free babysitting, a close family, and never really “missing” my mom or dad. On the other hand, though, because we’re all so close (us, my mom and stepdad, and my dad all live in the same town; my brother is a half hour away; the in laws are a half an hour the other direction), we’ve never really had the opportunity to develop Christmas traditions for our own family. Since we’ve been parents for ten years now, we thought it was time.

(Our traditions thus far have involved “going to Grandpa’s [my dad] house on Christmas Eve, going to Grandma’s [my mom and stepdad] house on Christmas morning, and going to Grandma and Grandpa’s [my in-laws] on Christmas afternoon. Talk about exhausting!)

I mentioned once before that we explained the Santa Claus myth to our kids last year. They took it well, and we don’t regret for one second stopping the perpetuation of that particular tradition. We told the kids the true story of Saint Nicholas of Turkey, and based on his tale, we bought new “stockings” for everyone. Instead of visiting the Christmas section of the store, we visited the clothing department and bought real socks, just like those that Saint Nicholas would have stashed the money inside to help the poor people of his village. I then embroidered each of our names on one stocking. Because they’re real socks, we purchased them in pairs (obviously), so I’ve stashed away the sixth one if/when we have another baby.


Hubby and I each read the book The Zero Waste Home over the summer, and while we aren’t able to implement all of her tips based on the shopping options near us, the one that stuck with us the most was the zero waste, and yet “real,” Christmas tree. We had a real tree once when we were first married, and it was a disaster! It was so hard to cut the trunk straight enough to get into the stand that we just bought an artificial tree the next year. The author of the book had a solution that was the best of both worlds (a living tree, but easy and waste-free): a real tree in a pot. Bring it inside during the Advent season, and when once Epiphany comes around (traditionally the day the wise men visited Jesus), undecorate the tree and put it outside. The tree continues to grow in its pot all year long, but it’s not inside the whole year. We absolutely loved the idea! So this year, we’ve left our artificial tree in the garage and we purchased a potted Christmas tree (photo above, at the top of the post). We also decided that we wanted to go with a simpler, more natural look as far as decorations go this year. To accomplish that, we bought one bag of cinnamon-scented pinecones (do they have those where you live? You should totally get some if they do. They’re heavenly!) and I tied hemp cording that I found in the jewelry making section of JoAnn’s to each one for hanging. We wanted to buy some wooden discs to decorate for the ornaments, but after searching two craft stores, Amazon, and Home Depot, we couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for, so we made our own. The kids found a branch outside that had fallen from one of our many pine trees, and we took it across the street to our neighbor. She used her table saw to slice it up for us, and then she and Seahawk drilled a hole in each one. I tied hemp cord through each of those as well, and voila! Exactly what we wanted. Even though we’d originally planned to decorate the wood discs, once we got our branch sliced up, we found that it was beautiful all on its own, so we forwent that step. Add a string of white lights and a dozen candy canes, and that’s our tree. And we love it!

Earlier this week, my dad brought the kids a gingerbread house to build and decorate. They loved that project! I had fun decorating it with them, too. I’m thinking next year, we’ll try doing it completely homemade, though. There’s nothing I love more than making something most people just buy. I did the icing and the kids did the decorating. I’m especially proud of the icicles hanging from the roof!

gingerbread combo pic

One last thing on our new traditions. Gifts. We rebelled hard against consumerism last year and didn’t buy gifts at all for ourselves or our kids. Don’t think us complete Scrooges, though; we gifted our kids with “experiences.” We took them roller skating and to the zoo at different points during the year as their Christmas presents. This year, we’re trying to walk the line between getting the kids “nothing” and going absolutely crazy – like the grandparents are likely to do. I first brought up to hubby the idea of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh gifts that Jamie from The Unlikely Homeschool does. We tossed ideas around for a couple of weeks, and were getting a few good ones for each category (Gold is something desired, i.e. the “big toy” the kids want; Frankincense is something for everyone to share; and Myrrh is something of spiritual value), but then hubby found this little poem that he liked even better for simple gift giving:

gift poem

(I don’t know from what website he found the poem, so if you do, please let me know so I can link back and give credit where credit is due.)

So that’s what we’re doing for each boy. Most of the things are chosen, but not all are made/bought, but we’ll be ready by Christmas.

What are some of your Christmas traditions?


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One thought on “Making Christmas Traditions

  1. Sanz 12/19/2013 at 6:24 pm Reply

    What a fun year for you to make wonderful memories and create new traditions for your little crew! We have done the 3 gifts Christmas and I like to think ours is pretty simple (11 gifts for my family of 6, plus 3 gifts for extended family). My kids are getting crocheting lessons for one of their gifts. I love your tree and the ideas you have! We stopped traveling on Christmas several years ago and chose to be in our home on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas day. Instead, we have invited my parents to come stay with us. We used to all gather at my parents house (a several hundred mile drive for all of us) and that has changed. It seems that my siblings all prefer to have their children wake up in their own beds and have their own traditions. We gather for New YEars instead. Thanks for sharing!

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