It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact Christmas is literally in 3 days. Maybe it’s the fact that the year itself has seemed to fly by faster than I thought possible or that I thought there would be more snow thus far to make it feel more like Christmas. As we’ve been in this holiday season I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions and the memories I recall from my own childhood. I recall coming to Colorado every year, or every year, and going up to my granddad’s cabin where we drove our suburban up the mountains in the snow. Our memories filled with the orange carpet of the cabin and the carpet wrapped bunk beds where us kids slept. The memories of decorating the cabin tree with ornaments and popcorn strings and watching the snow fall out the window. Our adventures were always up to the ski slope where we were so close to the sun we would ski in sweatshirts instead of full snowsuits and the evening adventures of tubing down the hill, accompanied by my grandma always being in the lodge waiting for us with hot chocolate. Once he got rid of the cabin, we would go to my my grandparents, which was always home filled with Christmas. Stockings hanging from the railings, a Christmas tree upstairs and one down. You could always tell my grandparents were thrilled we were coming for the week or two because their house was always filled with yummy treats and quick trips to the store were made for things we “needed” to eat. Christmas morning was filled with monkey bread and little smokies. We always did presents in the morning and stocking in the evening with one present on the night before. Christmas eve we usually would find a church to go to for Christmas Eve service then once home again, we lined a plate with Cookies for Santa and, of course, carrots for the reindeer. Every year we would get our Christmas scrapbook and everyone wrote their Christmas memories of that year – short or long, big things or maybe their favorite present.
Once I became a part of Ryan’s family, their traditions became something I was a part of. Every Christmas Eve we would watch It’s A Wonderful Life, just like he had always done. Christmas morning was filled with sweet rolls and coffee cake. As we’ve reminisced about our childhood Christmas memories his always include either going to Nebraska to see his Grandma S or her coming into town to see them for the holiday. Oh how I wish I had gotten to meet that sweet grandma of his, he has such fond memories of her. Every year they would go to Christmas Eve service, and open on present that evening. And a live tree was always something they had – and it was his job to make sure it was watered. Decorating the tree and putting the angel at the top was always his favorite. Ah, the memories.
With each year of being A’s mama the growing excitement that accompanies each holiday season fills my heart to the brim. Her very first Christmas she was a month old, so really the Christmas celebration was encompassed by our pure joy of simply having her in our arms and being her parents. Last year, at just over a year she was excited and getting into things. Opening presents and busier than the year before. But this year, this year has been my favorite. This year we have been working on building traditions that we can hold onto for years to come, the footwork of Christmas memories for many years to come. Since A’s first Christmas we always make handmade salt dough ornaments. Her first year was her footprint, last year was a Christmas tree she painted and this year we made red stocking for painting. We make plenty for us, plenty for her to take when she’s grown and all of the grandparents get one too. A little keepsake to hold dear every year. Every year since Ryan and I got together in 2006 we have gone to the store and picked out one ornament a year for our tree. Once we had A in 2012 we began picking up two, an ornament for A and a family ornament. The ornaments for A will be hers to take when she grows up and leaves our nest, just like Ryan’s family did for him.
My mom got us an Elf of the Shelf for A’s first Christmas, and although we had her out last year it didn’t have the excitement it did this year. This year our elf got her name, “Gogiddy” and it’s been quite a game to find her every day – or at least every day that we remember to move her. We aren’t into getting super crazy with her like I’ve seen many do. It’s less about “Santa is watching” or “look what bad thing your elf can do” and more about the game of hide and seek, silly things she might be doing and positive reinforcement. Gogiddy leaves her notes with a treat or telling her she can pick a treat for good behavior at an appointment, etc. And once A found her swinging from the microwave or hanging out in the candy jar with some skittles spilled around that A got to eat that afternoon. Fun, innocent activities that aren’t mischievous. We think it’s best that way. Not to mention, we feel like it’s so important that it’s not about “you get presents if you a nice, not naughty”, afterall, we are celebrating Jesus, who loves us and showers us with gifts whether we necessarily deserve it or not. I feel like that’s an important principal to teach her as well.
This year, we added some new traditions like going to our local town Christmas celebration that was hosted in our one-block-downtown-Main Street. The local shops all had little stickers and activities like icing cookies and color, or ornament making. Then at the very end they could show their sticker page filled up with the stickers from the local businesses and get a goodie bag. There was a parade, hot chocolate and the tree lighting. We’ve made Christmas crafts and watched a Christmas movie here and there on TV. And today we made some Christmas treats and candies. Christmas lights as we drive around the neighborhood gets lots of “oohs!” and “wow!!”s from the backseat.
This year A has also helped me in the kitchen with making cookies for our neighbors, the trash guys and local post office, in effort of teaching her the magic of giving to others. We went to the store and picked our presents for children to donate to the toy run, and donated to the soldiers overseas through a benefit Ryan’s work did. We want to teach her so much about the gift of giving to others. We always donate to others in need at Christmas, and this year she did so good picking out gifts for other kids even though we told her they wouldn’t be for her.
I love that we have started forming our own traditions, as well as, keeping some of our favorites from our childhood. This year we got a new tree and A helps Ryan hold the flashlight to make sure the water is full. She helped us decorate the tree, too. We will have our sweet rolls for breakfast Christmas morning just like we have for the last 8 years, and Christmas Eve we will read the Christmas Story and let her open one present. We have started having our own Christmas, on Christmas morning and family get-togethers in the afternoon which I feel like we really cherish. We don’t go overboard with gifts but get a few things we know she will use and enjoy keeping it simple. Traditional ornaments and yummy treats.
All though the memories of growing up I hold dear of the holidays, I know without a doubt that the memories I’m making right here, right now are ones to bottle up and hold onto forever because soon enough they will be little blips in time that I wish I could hold on to, cling too and time travel back to.