Simplifying Christmas: Traditions

When Jason and I got married, we brought with us a history of two different family’s Christmas traditions. The first year we tried to do them all. Overwhelming. So, the next year we chose a few that had deep meaning for us. 
Jason finds it very important to have a ‘real’ tree, so we go out and get one each year on December 1st.

Christmas 2012

In his family, the Christmas Eve meal was Chinese food. It’s a great idea, really. If you have time to cook it yourself, great. If not, you can order in, or do a combination of the two.  One of our very first dates was to an Ethiopian Restaurant and we both loved it. It’s a cooking, cultural, delicious food eating experience. So, we chose Ethiopian food as our Christmas Eve dinner tradition. Usually I spend the day cooking and if things are really hectic or we are having a lot of people over, we order a few dishes from the local Ethiopian restaurant. Now that we live closer to family, or are traveling, we have not continued this tradition. We’ve decided that after this year Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be for our own little family and we will work on bringing this tradition back.

Our first Ethiopian Christmas Eve meal as a married couple.

Jason also LOVES decorating the outside of the house with Christmas lights. I mean, if he had his way we would have santa and his sleigh on our rooftop and a huge nativity on the front yard and enough lights to blow the breaker. But, thankfully I have a bit of input and classic lights all over has been good enough so far and we’ve avoided the Tim Taylor or National Lampoon’s Christmas disaster.

Christmas 2012
In my family we always had advent candles and lit them every advent Sunday, singing a few carols and reading a story or two. When we had our own kids we changed this a bit. We still have the advent candles, but we light them every night starting the first advent Sunday. Then we open one of the 25 children’s Christmas stories I have wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, and unwrap it, read it and sing a Christmas carol before blowing out the candles and go to bed.

Christmas 2012

One other tradition I grew up with was that we each had mini Christmas stockings and we open them on Boxing Day. Every year there would be little items in them like chocolate, candy, nail clippers, and always, always a Christmas ornament to add to our collection. My Mom still mails us each a filled stocking to open on Boxing Day if we aren’t home for Christmas. I love this tradition and we are continuing it in our little family. You can see them hanging on the beam post in the Christmas tree picture above.

And then there is the Christmas baking that usually starts in November. We fill the freezer and a week before Christmas we create platters and tins to share with family, friends, and co-workers.

This seems like a whole lot of traditions, but really, we’ve kept a few, we’ve let go of quite a few, and made a few our own. When it comes down to it, I think there are seven in our list and they all fit into our lifestyle and daily routine really nicely. Isn’t that how it should be? Something that fits our family, our budget and our lifestyle? I hope so.
You may be thinking But I didn’t grow up with any Christmas traditions?  That’s okay! How fun would it be to choose a few to start with your family now? Pinterest has oodles and oodles of ideas. It’s overwhelming, really, but truly, so many good ideas. So, pick a few to try out. Then next year, revamp until you find what works for you and yours.
Here’s to keeping the Christmas season simple this year.

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