Monday, December 6, 2010

My Christmas Traditions - LONG post (sorry)!!

Disclaimer: I am so sorry that I'm late posting this. It was supposed to get posted at midnight last night, but I didn't get it finished before that. So I am finishing it this morning and then posting it!!

Today we're taking it back a notch, lol! The past two posts have been so fun and I am delighted to have been graced by the presence of these wonderful women, but today it's all about home. This will be a step=by=step revealing of how we celebrate Christmas in my family!

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time spent with your loved ones amongst a feast fit for a king. What could be better? ; ) Anyway, I love Thanksgiving, I really do, but (as you all now know) what I really look forward to is the Christmas season. So the day after our Thanksgiving festivities is the day that Mom starts instilling her "Christmas Rules". Of which inclueds:

So, we clean that weekend, that way we can do everything we want to do! Usually our cleaning is finished that weekend, so Alicia and I get out our fake trees in our room, our villages, and nativity sets. Yes, you heard me right, trees in our rooms! It's a pain in the butt to set up BUT oh so rewarding. I just love the look of it : )

This is the week that we get our Christmas tree! We always get our tree from my cousin, who sells them at Grandma's house. We always pick it out on Friday night or Saturday morning, uncle brings it to our house (because he has a truck!) and helps us move it in, then we decorate on Sunday. This year was no different. We looked at a couple trees that were a good height, but pretty gappy
or too skinny,
always something wrong with it, right?

I won't go into too much detail on the tree because there will be a tree post coming up!!

This is usually the weekend that we get our mom's village set up and the little Christmas tree with lights. Oh, how could I forget about the Nativity Set? This is basically a time to get all of our holiday "stuff" out to decorate. I don't have pictures uploaded yet, but they're coming!!

By this time this year, I will be done school with only my two finals left. That is so great to say!! This weekend is when we hopefully get started on wrapping presents. Mom is ahead of everything this year and got a little bit of wrapping done last night, go her!! This is also when a lot of our "relaxing" comes into play. We spend a lot of time watching movies and TV - especially Lifetime and the 25 Days of Christmas.

We also play a lot of games!! Some of our favorites are:

Nothing too specific usually. This is usually when we make our sugar cookies and gingerbread boys (and girls of course!). This year will be interesting since Christmas is on a Saturday. Mom and Alicia have school until that Wednesday, December 22 (all day that day then they're done). I'm not sure when I will be working until, but possibly even on Christmas Eve. We will spend family time as much as we can and enjoy the season as it comes to its' end.

This brings us up to Christmas Eve, folks. An exciting day, but also a little sad. Soon this holiday will be over for another whole year, but don't dwell on that. Enjoy it while you still can!! One of the things we do in the morning is move all our gifts to the three of us out and put them under the tree. It's neat to get to see our hard work, time, and money essentially under the tree!! We then will bring down the presents to grandma's house for the next day. This includes presents for about 10 people from the three of us. You have to understand we really do go all out, we've got a couple HUGE boxes usually! Lol....we like to give gifts in my family : ) This year, as I said before, might be a little different because Alicia and/or I might have to work, but we'll deal with it.

That night is our Christmas Eve service at 7pm. We go to a small Methodist church in downtown, so nothing extravagant, but our church does look beautiful. In more recent years we got our newest pastors: Pastor Sandy and Lory, a husband and wife team. Pastor Lory really likes the children getting involved, so we have started doing a Christmas pageant during the Christmas Eve service instead of hearing it read to us. We shut out all the lights except for a "spot light" which goes in the front. Interspersed throughout the story are songs. So when the wise men were walking to get to the baby Jesus, example, they walk around the whole church while we sing We Three Kings. It's very cool! However, it just wouldn't be complete without the star being lit high in the rafters of the church ceiling, beautiful!!

After the service, we always have our drive. We drive all over town, looking for Christmas lights, and listening to Christmas music. This is a tradition I definitely want to continue with my kids because I remember loving it as a kid. Now, it's a peaceful, reflective time for the three of us. We don't talk too much usually, we just soak in the true meaning of Christmas.

When we get home, it's the same thing every year. There are two presents that mysteriously showed up under the tree. They're always unmarked but "must be from Santa". It's always pajamas! They used to be matching, every year, until middle school or high school lol! But it's a fun tradition : )

Alicia and I leave out the cookies and milk, sneak a cookie for ourselves too : ) Then we have to go upstairs. We usually can find A Christmas Story - you're gonna shoot your eye out!! LOL! This is the one night of the year we actually go to bed pretty easily for Mom! Lol....but it's with giddy anticipation still of what's to come the next day.

WOOHOO!!! It's here!! That fateful day that we've been leading up to for almost a whole month is finally here!!

Every year Mom says we're not getting up early and every year Alicia and I prove her wrong. Two years ago we were up between 5-6am to do the tree, lol! However the catch (I guess God was telling us to go back to bed!) was that right after we opened our first present, the power went out. We rigged up candles and flashlights both to be able continue : )

The rule is (another one of those infamous "mom" rules!) that we can't go downstairs without mom, we can't see the tree (go in the living room). We have to wait for mom to drink some coffee, Maddie to go out and come back in, and eat some Munchkins...

NO not those munchkins!!!

Those munchkins!!

We then are allowed to see the tree. No touching though! Mom has to take pictures in front of the tree with stockings and Maddie. Lol! THEN we can open stockings, including Mom. It's hard to get her to sit down and open it! Then finally we can start on the tree!! Hallelujah ; )

Later in the day (9-10am), we go down to Grandma's. At Grandma's we have to wait for everyone to get there, but then we do the tree first there. Alicia and I are designated "elves" for the time being, in charge of passing out gifts. Afterwards, we pick up the dining room (also where the tree is) to set up for dinner.

Okay, I'm going to cut it short there because this is already SO long!! I guess I should've broken it down into two posts, sorry about that....

The Myster Song of Day is here!! In the spirit of remember that reflective attitude in the car, this song was chosen. Okay, I have no clue for you today because there are no words to describe. I really hope you enjoy this version, I know it always gives me chills!

Please, if you want to let me know of some traditions, games you play, things like that do so!! I LOVE hearing all about it!! And stay tuned for tomorrow. And hold onto your seat because tomorrow Ruth Logan Herne rushes in!! Come stop by for a bit : )
Hope your holiday season is taking shape!!


  1. Hannah -- what a fun read. It's put me in the Christmas spirit! Love how your family allows the holidays to bring them together. So many people think of Christmas as stress and lose the real meaning of it altogether!

    Okay -- one of my Christmas traditions is to decorate a tree outside for the animals. Does that sound crazy? I'm a real animal lover and I read a picture book by Eve Bunting about a family who decorated a tree with edible ornaments for the birds and animals. Of course the family in the story lived in the country but I live in the city so I have to adopt a tree in the park but I like to think the citified squirrels and birds don't mind. :-)

  2. I agree with Kav--such a fun read! :D And it sounds like our families have a lot of things in common!

    For Christmas Eve, we go over to my grandparents' house (they live about 15 minutes away) and open out-of-town gifts (gifts sent to us from family who don't live close by) and more recently gifts from my uncle who lives with my grandparents. And when we get home, my sister and I open one gift each. And you'll never be able to guess what it is...PAJAMAS! ;) And sometimes slippers. :) Those pajamas are the ones we'll be wearing when we open our stockings in the morning, so this part is important!

    Then my sister and I both sleep on mats in the same room, and she almost always wakes up first. (I could sleep forever...) Anyway, she wakes me up, and then we toss one of her stuffed animals back and forth, waiting to hear the sleigh bells which my mom rings to signal to us that IT IS TIME!

    After the sleigh bells ring, my sister has to wait for me to put in my contacts and brush my hair, because there is NO WAY that I am not fixing up a little before we take all those pictures! (If I HAVE to still be in my pajamas, I at least have to look a little less sloppy!) ;)

    And then we have to wait for the signal that it's OK to come out from behind the couch and see what Santa left us. ;) We usually get one or two big presents (unwrapped, lying near the stockings), and then we open our stockings, with my mom and dad taking tons of pictures and waiting for us to finish before opening theirs. ;)

    I could go on, but you get the idea! ;) My grandparents and my uncle come over to our house with more presents for under the tree, and we have breakfast together, open presents one at a time so we can admire them properly, and then my grandparents leave only to return in the evening for Christmas dinner.

    Whew! Like I said, I think our families have some similarities, Hannah! And I love how, even though we're in college now, Christmas still makes us feel like kids again (right?!)! ;)

    Thanks for sharing, and I apologize for the novel!


  3. Ohhhh -- we get Christmas jammies too but that is the only present opened Christmas eve. And then we live in them for days aferwards and it's okay to be lounging around in your jammies because they are Christmas jammies!!!!

  4. Hannah, I loved reading this post! It took me back to my younger days when we Smiths were all together for Christmas. I bet it makes your Mom feel so good to know what these traditions mean to you and to see how you've built your life on what your family has given you. And I like your Mom's rules. They ensure that each part of Christmas is enjoyed to the fullest! . . . I also enjoyed reading Amber's and Kav's traditions. I don't get Christmas jammies anymore but remember that phase of my life with a smile!

    One thing I do nowadays is get up early on Christmas morning and go to one of my niece's houses to watch the little kids open presents. It gives us all much joy to see their delight in all they receive and reminds me how much my Heavenly Father loves to give good gifts to us. Of course, I enjoy receiving gifts, also! So part of our tradition involves us sisters (there are 4 of us) telling each other what we want, scheming with each other to surprise one of the others, and then watching the grand opening of what we've given. Fun!

    Thanks for sharing all this good stuff! Blessings!

  5. Hmm! I posted a comment earlier, but I don't see it!

    I loved the post, I love reading different family traditions. It's great now that I'm on own and am creating my own traditions.

    Friday after Thanksgiving I devorate the house with my decorations. Adam and I have a tradtion then, on Saturday after Thanksgiving, we put up the tree. We always watch the movie Christmas Vacation while putting the tree up, that's a tradition. We always have fun doing it. :)
    Chrismtas eve we usually have a nice dinner together and sometimes give each other a gift. Since we have no kids, we sleep in! We usually venture over to my mom's house to open presents and have lunch. Then to my dad's family house to open more presents and have dinner. My dad's family is pretty big, so we always do a grab! That helps and is fun to see who we got. Then we to go Adam's sister house for another dinner and presents, ha! Holidays are very busy for use, but still always fun to see everyone.

  6. You guys, thank you SO SO much for commenting!! You have to know that even when I'm having a.....down day, you all brighten it : D

    Thanks so much for being such good friends!

  7. Hi Hannah
    I really enjoyed reading about your Christmas. It sounds a truly wonderful family time for you all. I love your tree. It looks great. We are Methodists too! Things are very hectic here right now. I will be back soon to read all the posts I have missed. Happy Christmas to you and your family.