What are your Christmas Traditions?
I meant to do this post a week ago, and well ... here we are on Christmas Eve. Talk about a deadline! We are in Indiana this week spending some wonderful time with family. It’s a season of continued “firsts” for Isaac, as this trip marks the first time he has met most of his aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, great uncles and a whole slew of other folks.
Jason and I were both born into families steeped in rich Christmas tradition, so joining our lives meant keeping some of our favorite yearly to-dos going while developing new ones of our own. This year is especially fun for us, as Isaac is really catching on to the whole “Christmas” thing.
Last week, before starting our trip, we celebrated the holiday with my parents at our house in California. That gave us a chance to add more little rituals to our “just-us” family Christmas festivities. Here are some of my favorite things we did:
Isaac always gets a set of Santa Jammies from Grandma around late November. So this year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we put them on for the first time and settled in for hot chocolate, homemade popcorn and a showing of The Polar Express. It was a hit! We listened to the soundtrack in the car for weeks after that.
I love to color-coordinate my wrapping paper, choosing a theme each year. This year, it was the Sugar Paper / Target offerings with some coordinating Santa paper thrown in. On years when I have a bit more time to work it out, I like to choose a different paper for each recipient. It makes for a personal touch on Christmas morning. This year, it was all mixed together ... still, so fun.
As for the tree, I tend to keep it traditional: lots of red and green, with all the ornaments made for-and given to-Jason and I over the years. To me, there are few things better than reliving our family history through ornaments of Christmas past.
We also collect an ornament each time we travel or move (which was a lot when Jason was on active duty) and buy multiples of the same one to give to family and friends as souvenirs.
Our bar cart gets more festive than usual with a red and white tabletop tree in the colors of our alma mater, Indiana University. This tree was given to us several years ago by my father-in-law with a set of mini IU ornaments.
Jason’s mom makes a homemade ornament each year, and it’s usually music-themed. (She’s a piano teacher.) This year, I hung a few of my favorites on the burst clock.
One of the things Isaac looks forward to most is setting out milk and cookies for Santa. So I got this special cup and saucer to serve them on last year. I also got an inexpensive picture frame from Target to display our Christmas card each season. I loved our design this year so much, I wanted to display it as long as possible!
I like giving and receiving Christmas cards more than most, I think. Maybe it’s the print magazine history, or just the love of graphic design, photography and layout, but whatever the motivation, I tend to get arty with them. I also love displaying the cards we receive. You can’t see it in this photo because it’s already laden with greetings, but I keep an ornament-shaped giant card holder by the front door to collect and display the cards we get from family and friends.
Our gallery wall was looking empty so I hung some cute garlands.
We always do a Christmas dinner. (What we serve varies from year to year.) But this year, I bought these round chargers from Target to put our white plates on. They reminded me of something we might have found in Peru, and just made me so darn happy!
I displayed one of my larger Wizard of Oz ornaments on top of them. It’s a battery-operated “scene” and Isaac loves to push the button and watch it unfold again and again.
Also pictured here is one of my favorite gifts received this year, a copy of Diana Vreeland’s memos to staff during her Vogue years. I often receive books related to creative people and pursuits for gifts, and I display them wherever I can.
I know it’s Christmas when I start to hear the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. I gave Jason a record player as a gift last year, and this was the first record I bought him to go with it.
Finally ... I bake! I consider baking so therapeutic, and love tackling different projects each time. This year, I decided to make a cherry / almond cake recipe I saw on the Great British Baking Show for Christmas brunch. I’d been excited to try this for months, and it was really good! I didn’t get the icing right, but hey ... I’m no “star baker,” and that’s alright with me.
Did you start any new Holiday traditions this year?
And: Merry Christmas, everyone!