Friday, December 21, 2012

I remember sneaking out of bed at four in the morning...

Christmas 2011

I remember sneaking out of bed at four in the morning, still so dark it seemed green in our living room, as I would stand for a moment taking it all in. Bites in the cookies, half of the milk gone. Presents (so many presents!) under the tree, our stockings down from the mantle filled to the brim with tiny wrapped goodies that were always my favorite part of the next day.  I padded around our wood floor in pajamas, looking at everything, while the almost-inaudible whirr of the Christmas village, the tiny ice skaters going around and around, filled the silence between my footsteps. It was magic then, in the green night-almost-morning air, as I sprinted silently back to my bedroom, burying myself in my comforter, and waited out the night until that first  sliver of sun popped up over the trees, letting me know it was finally time for our Christmas to begin.

And now Henry gets to enjoy all of this magic too. This is the first year we'll be putting out cookies and milk for Santa, and carrots for his reindeer. We rode the Polar Express, and he understood that yes, this is Santa. He'll know what's going on when he goes to bed on the 24th, and when he wakes up the next morning he will know Christmas has arrived! He's not quite at the age where he fully understands the holidays, but he knows enough to get excited and to grasp the idea that all of our family will be in one place, celebrating a wonderful day.

So I ask you, what special traditions do you and your family do? I love to hear about the ways other families celebrate, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or if you don't celebrate any holidays, perhaps you observe the Winter Solstice in a special way, or just mark the season somehow. I'd be so honored to hear about it, so feel free to share below. I think it will be great to read through the comments, and maybe even get some fun ideas to incorporate into our own celebrations.

As for us, we always decorate as soon as December 1st rolls around (although next year I am aiming for Thanksgiving weekend) while listening to Christmas music. We bake cookies, visit Santa, and like I mentioned above, this year we rode the Polar Express which will definitely become a yearly tradition as long as Henry enjoys it.

Now it's your turn...

Happy everything!


23 comments:

  1. We celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas in my family. We light the menorah each night, and then we chop down a tree from the christmas tree farm, and decorate it together. We always visit our extended family, (grandparents, and friends included) and listen to fun songs and play silly games. We also always make a big breakfast christmas morning, like special french toast or raspberry pancakes in the shapes of gingerbread men. Love holiday traditions!

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    1. I love that you guys celebrate both! When I was growing up one of my closest friends was Jewish and I loved all of her family's traditions. Yours sound so fun!

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  2. I love this post, I wrote about my Christmas memories the other day...
    http://thewoodsonway.com/2012/12/06/the-magic-of-memories/

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    1. Ooh yay Laura, thanks for sharing! I'm excited to check out your post. :)

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  3. You write so beautifully. It must be amazing to start your own traditions with family and see Henry enjoying magic and mistery of Chritmas. I hope you'll have beautiful holidays:)x

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    1. Thank you so much Marta! I hope you have a beautiful holiday too. Lots and lots of love. xoxo!

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  4. Your words made so many childhood memories of Christmas flood back to my mind! I have a four year old and a 15 month old and I'm so excited about watching them experience the magic of Christmas this year. My favorite new tradition of ours has got to be cutting down our Christmas tree. I posted about our latest tree chopping adventure here :http://thebeardedfamily.blogspot.com/2012/12/oh-christmas-tree.html

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  5. Christmas has always been SO much my favorite that I would wake everyone up before the sun. My mom always baked 'sticky buns' from scratch on Christmas morning, and we would eat them while opening our presents. Now that I'm a mom (we have a 3 month old!), I'm so excited to carry on some of our traditions. I definitely bake some sort of yummy treat like cinnamon rolls, and we (my husband and I) usually have a fire in the fireplace while we open presents (even though we're in Florida and it's usually pretty warm!). We HAVE to listen to christmas music, and usually watch some sort of christmas movie (like elf). Also, special Christmas p.j.'s are a must. So excited for the years when our Søren is more aware of what's happening!

    merry christmas danielle! :)

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  6. This post made me feel both nostalgic, and excited for children of my own! This year I'm visiting my boyfriend's family for the holidays for the first time. They're Acadian, and they celebrate Réveillon on Christmas Eve, which is basically a big feast of Acadian food. I'm so excited to share this time with him, and learn how his family celebrates Christmas. I'm also excited to wake up with his young nieces and nephew and watch them open presents.

    I've been reading your blog since before you first got pregnant, and it's so amazing to see how Henry has grown. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

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  7. That sounds wonderful!
    In Austria, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, on the 24th in the evening when it's getting dark outside.
    It is always a surprise how the Christmas Tree looks, because the Christkind (that's like our version of Santa Claus) has put it up the night before.
    Then we sing Christmas Songs, unwrap our presents under the tree and have a big family meal together. In our family, we celebrate Christmas on the following two days again with different members of our family - I'm always looking forward to seeing everybody, even the ones who live thousands of kilometres away!

    I wish you a merry Christmas :)

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  8. It's so exciting that Henry can grasp Christmas this year, too! We're Swiss, so we always celebrate on Christmas Eve with a big dinner, presents and some carol singing. My mom still always reads us a German children's story as well, even though my sister and I are in our twenties...we always follow that up with midnight mass (even though none of us are very religious). The next day is spent drinking champagne at our neighbour's house - they always invite us over. Santa doesn't bring our presents either - he has his own day earlier on in December when (in Switzerland) he brings oranges, nuts and chocolates to children. He rides on a donkey in our old area, too! To get these little gifts you have to repeat a little rhyme for him. The parents of naughty children get hazel whips as well instead of coal. On Christmas Day, presents were always brought by the Christ-Child. It's not very different from the traditional American (or British) Christmas, things are just on a different day and there's no parade! Oh how I miss the parade...hope you have a good one this year :) Merry Christmas!

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  9. I love this post!!! We get our presents on Christmas Eve here in Germany, and I remember looking for Baby Jesus (who brings the presents here, Santa comes on December 6th) through the key hole of our living room door, and I remember being SURE I've seen him (we call him Christkind). I remember being very very excited throughout our christmas supper and Mum and Dad FINALLY giving in and letting us into the living room afterwards. They always brought down Moms old doll house from the attic - it was beautiful and my sister and I loved it even more than our actual presents. I wonder where it is now .. I'd love to see my kids playing with it on Christmas Eve one day!

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  10. Awww! So cute! I can't wait to have a little one to share the excitement of Christmas with! xxx

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  11. my husband and I exchange a gift to celebrate the Solstice/Yule on the 21st of December (thankfully the world didn't end this yr and we got to open the gifts!!), and that marks the beginning of the Christmas season for us. Sometimes we like to light a candle that night to contemplate the year, and the upcoming season & give thanks.

    We celebrate with both his and my parents, on Christmas eve and Christmas day. And we don't have kids yet, so *we* get to be the kids, which is lots of fun ;)

    Merry Christmas to your adorable family ~ xo leanna

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  12. Danielle, your writing is so beautiful. I literally got shivers up my spine by the third sentence! Thank you for sharing your Christmas memory.

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  13. Isn't Christmas time just the most wonderful time of the year?! I love all the memories I have from Christmas time when I was little. But I also love how we spend Christmas time as a family now. I have actually just written about how Christmas Eve traditions in my family have changed over the years in a post on my blog today. Christmas Eve is the BIG day here in Germany, where we get our presents. Christmas Day is usually pretty low key and just a day to relax, enjoy the new things we got, watch Christmas movies, ... And than there is the second Christmas Day (Boxing Day) on which I usually cook a big fancy Christmas Lunch for my parents, my sister and her boyfriend and we have my mom's side of the family over for coffee and cake in the late afternoon.
    So it is three days with family - that's what I like best about Christmas anyway.

    Hopefully I will be able to build my own traditions with my own future family too.

    I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas.

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  14. Christmas is huge in my family! We are Colombians so the whole holiday is a bit different, we don't do Santa but the"Niño Dios" (im guessing baby Jesus would be the term in english). On the 24th we get together and read the "novena" (9 days before Christmas people get together to read the story of how Mary and Joseph made it to Belen), after that we sing some carols. In my family we, the young generation, make a play (directed by one of my aunts) to show the family. Before midnight we go out and throw fireworks. At midnight the biggest firework goes off, signaling the arrival of Baby Jesus. Then everyone runs back inside to find all the presents under the tree, these are mainly from other family members and friends and a couple are from Baby Jesus. Someone is in charge or reading and handing out the presents and dinner is on the table (its like 1:30 am when we have dinner).
    Everyone goes home (usually a lot of us are visiting my grandparents so the WHOLE house is full of beds). The next morning you wake up to find more gifts on your bed.
    I remember being a kid and waking up to find a lot of presents all around me on my bed, it was the best surprise ever!
    The last couple of years we have spent christmas on the beach so its a great exprience, on the 25th we spend the day laying by the beach or dock, having leftovers from the night before and drinking rum/cokes. Its great to live in the tropics!

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  15. http://glassesandgrenades.blogspot.com/2012/12/christmas-traditions.html

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  16. Such a sweet picture :) My brother and I (him being 17 and me 21) wake up before the sun's up and terrorize my mom until she lets us open presents :) Then we have breakfast with my grandma and then later in the day, go see my dad and my other grandma! And basically eat all day long. Hooray!

    xo Ashley
    luckylittlebird.blogspot.com

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  17. A friend sent me over to your blog. I love this picture!!! Holiday traditions: My husband is Jewish so we celebrate the first night of Hanukkah by each opening a present, maybe making latkes, and always watching The Hebrew Hammer. WE moved from Philadephia a few years ago and had awesome Christmas traditions there. The Wanamaker light show, the animatronic Christmas Carol, the Victorian santas, The Reading Terminal train set. Here in Chicago we haven't quite recovered from losing our Philly traditions. My daughter has gone to the Zoo Lights and that's about all we do. Oh, wait. The best Christmas tradition of all, that we can enjoy wherever we are, is the Christmas Day DOCTOR WHO MARATHON and Christmas Invasion special. Let the geekery begin!

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  18. Christmas was always such a treat as a child. I feel like I am still at the age where I am struggling accepting that I will never feel the same thrill I used to, but I am finally starting to be okay with that. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

    <3 Melissa
    wildflwrchild.blogspot.com

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  19. My Christmas season is full of traditions, but my favorite of them all is watching a Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve.

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  20. We just celebrated our last Christmas. I was always extremely obsessed with Christmas, actually. I was raised in a half Christian environment but both of my parents told me and my brothers the truth about Santa on day one, and I always loved being in on the secret. I enjoyed receiving and giving gifts, the Christmas carols (I actually listen to them all year round), Christmas stories (I read fictional Christmas stories all year round too), etc. It has always been fun to watch movies and read through portions of the gospels in the Bible during this time of year. However, BOOM - it hit us. We learned the complete truth about where everything originated from the Christmas tree to ornaments to Santa to the wreath to mistletoe, etc (been reading a few books on it too. . lots of research). It became SO SO SO interesting to learn the full history and origins of these things, that we realized Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus at all, but the church didn't like the Saturnalia and other parts of where Christmas came from, that they started to change things to suit themselves and really. . .that has turned us off so much. We have decided that next year we'll be celebrating Hanukkah instead, but in the Messianic Jewish way (Jewish people who believe Jesus was the Messiah, while all others are still waiting for Him to come). It will be a completely NEW way of living and learning and we talked to our kids about it and asked their opinions too and they are excited about it too. Many people we know think we're a bit strange, but that's okay. We'll still go to our family's Christmas dinners and such, out of respect for what they celebrate, but we truly hope they'll respect us in return (so far, not so good). So that's that.
    +Victoria+

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