Growing up I always loved Christmas, and I definitely have my parents to thank for that. They made it such a special time of year: finding the perfect tree to cut down and decorate, baking cookies and teaching us how to put the right amount of sprinkles on them, watching Christmas movies and singing the songs, and of course the excitement of St. Nicholas and Santa. It was the traditions that our family had that made the holiday season come alive. My brother and I were so excited about the gifts Santa brought that we started waking up earlier each year to open our stockings and then wait for our parents to wake up to unwrap the rest of the presents under the tree. It started off at 6am, but soon turned to 5am, and when we were a bit older, excitement still coursed through our veins on Christmas eve/morning that we were out of bed by 2am opening our stocking gifts. That usually resulted in sleeping on the couch, but I'll always cherish those times spent with my brother. We know who left the gifts under the tree, but it was still magical and the gift tags still read "To: Lisa, From: Santa."
Every Christmas we had the same routine of attending the 5PM Mass, spending the night with my dad's family munching on a buffet of goodies, opening our gifts on Christmas morning, and then spending the remainder of the day with my mom's family. Last year was the first Christmas I was not home in Wisconsin, instead I spent it in Texas with my husband of three weeks. And it was weird. Mass was different than what I was used to, plus we had to sit in the parish hall, and my husband had to work on Christmas eve. On Christmas morning I woke up early before he came home so I could still make the morning magical; our apartment was set up perfect and I had breakfast started. It was enjoyable, just different.
This year we live in Minnesota and once again we'll be able to do the "normal" routine of Christmas celebrations. But we don't know if every year will be like this one, and it likely won't be the same. We're starting our own family and we'll need to come up with our own traditions for Christmas (and Advent). I know that it will be a special time for our own children, but we also want to keep the focus on Jesus and not just the "magic of the season." I don't know how we'll make that happen yet, but it's exciting to think about. Change is difficult and I would love to stick with the familiar celebrations, but as a new family things will be different.
What are your traditions you have started with your family?