If you do it twice, it’s tradition. That’s kind of a family motto.
The only way to start a tradition is to just start doing something. It doesn’t have to be a big, elaborate thing. I told you about our family Christmas tradition of going out to see lights by boat, but we also have several traditions here at home that make Christmas-time extra special, especially for the younger members of the family.
My good friend, Impulsive Addict, was wanting to create some Christmas traditions for her adorable, just-turned-2-year old daughter, so I thought I’d share some of ours.
1. Have special toys, books and movies that only come out at Christmas time.
The toys can be stuffed animals, coloring books, anything Christmas themed. Ours come out as soon as we start pulling the decorations down from the rafters in the garage. (Each year when we pack up the Christmas decorations, we make sure the kids’ box goes up last so that the following year it can come down first.)
Grant loves this train that circles the main tree. It is not my favorite thing, but Grant and Handsome Hubby love it, so that’s what matters. They lie next to the tree and watch it go round and round. (To each his own…)
Many of these toys are below Grant’s age level now, but he still enjoys taking them out and looking at them. Because they only come out once a year, he wants to play with them all that he can.
The same can be said for the Christmas books…
…and the Christmas movies.
Because these movies are only out at Christmas time, we all enjoy them and look forward to them. (In case you were wondering: No, Grant is not allowed to watch The Ref.)
2. Start a tradition that involves mystery and anticipation.
Ours is in the form of 3 elves: Marta, Helga and Jingles. I can’t get on the whole Elf on the Shelf bandwagon because these 3 elves have been coming since I was a child. Now that I have children of my own, the 3 elves come to see them too.
About 35 years ago my mom upcycled a Christmas card and typed on it:
(A few years ago my mom had that original card laminated and gave it to me as a gift. I treasure it.)
From the moment the stockings were hung, we knew to start checking them for little presents. I shop all year for little gifts to put into the stockings. After Christmas Clearance Sales are a great place to stock up on Christmas themed toys, little books, DVDs to add to your Christmas collection. Target’s Dollar Spot and various Dollar Stores have plenty of little treats are well.
The kids never know when the elves will show up. Sometimes it’s a few times in one day. Other times it’s once a day. There is such a level of anticipation and mystery about these elves. When they are on the look-out for the elves, these kids are hilarious! They look like TSA screeners, patting down travelers at security checkpoints… the way they pat down their stockings every hour or so. I love to see it.
Click here to learn how we told the older kids The Truth and enlisted their help playing “elf”. (And you know what else is cool? My childhood stocking still is hung at my parents’ home and I still get treats from the elves in it…)
3. Incorporate photos of Christmases past into your decor.
Part of my Christmas decorations are framed photos of some of our favorite Christmas memories.
I am kind of a Christmas Freak and I spray paint the frames to match my ever-changing color schemes. (You certainly don’t need to do that part if you don’t want to.) I pack the framed photos away each year which makes it easy to set them out again.
We look over photos of school Christmas programs…
Of gingerbread houses made with our grandma (and even old photos of me with my little sister and dad from the 70s…)
More gingerbread house photos with grandparents
But this one is my favorite. Christmas cheer and complete goofiness…
We look at these beloved photos each year and reminisce. We refresh memories that can so easily be blurred into one long Christmas season, or worse, lost all together.
One of the boys’ favorite things? I framed the, um, alternative lyrics to The Twelve Days of Christmas.
In 2002, we were driving somewhere and they began singing the song, but changing the lyrics. The more they got into it, the harder they laughed. Dad was joining in too, and they were having so much fun that I knew I had to preserve the moment. I scrawled the lyrics on a scrap of paper I had in my purse.
I typed up the new lyrics and framed it. I even taped the original scrap of paper to the back of the frame. I know you’re all dying to know the new lyrics, so here they are:
Yes, I have boys…. why do you ask?
At the end of the day, these 3 things I do each year (Toys, Elves and Photos) are things that the boys look forward to and remember. I am fairly confident that they will grow up and continue these traditions in their own homes with their own children.
How cool is that?!