It's hard to believe that we are just a few (5 to be exact) days away from Christmas (ummmm where has this year gone??!!), so I couldn't think of a more perfect time than now to discuss Christmas traditions. (Also, my face has decided to go haywire so the holiday beauty post I've had in my editorial calendar since November clearly wasn't a viable option.)
Our Christmas traditions started each year with a special advent calendar made by one of my Mom's friends. The calendar was made from fabric and each day had a pocket. In each pocket was a card with a holiday themed activity for the day (i.e. sing Christmas carols, bake cookies, make a snowman, etc).
My Mom was a regular old Martha Stewart when it came to Christmas. I mentioned here about her extensive Christmas cookie list, but she didn't stop with just cookies. She would go all out cooking for my parent's Christmas party, and while I don't remember every dish, her homemade croquembouche I remember very well. Later in life we also started making a variety of sweet breads every year, like stollen and nut rolls.
Our next tradition was the tree decorating. We would all go as a family to hunt down the "perfect" Christmas tree at our local tree farm. Then the decorating process was a whole night thing, full of appetizers, cookies, and Christmas carols. My Mom added a new ornament to her collection every year and she kept them organized by year, so we would always start with the oldest first, then work our way to the newest and finish with the angel on top. My sister and I also had our own little mini tree which we decorated and kept in our playroom.
The rest of our house was always decorated to the nines, as well. Garland, bows, candles in the windows, multiple trees, themed trees, everything from the books to the candles to the nightlight in the bathroom (a small porcelain Christmas tree) was decorated.
Throughout December we had a variety of other traditions, including watching holiday movies (Miracle on 34th Street was always a favorite), driving around to look at Christmas decorations while drinking hot chocolate, attending a Christmas concert or play, and lots of sledding.
On Christmas eve, we would get all dressed up, have a nice dinner and then head to 8pm Mass (which turned into midnight Mass once we were older). Once we got back home, we were allowed to open one present of our choice, after which we enjoyed some Christmas cookies while my Mom would read us "The Night Before Christmas". Right before heading to bed (or I should say, attempting to head to bed) we would write our letters to Santa and set out cookies and milk for him and carrots for the reindeer. My sister and I would struggle to sleep (hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa), before finally waking up at some God-awful hour (like 5am), at which point my sleep-deprived parents would usually attempt to make us go back to bed until at least 6. Once we were all up and had ripped through our presents, we enjoyed a nice breakfast that always included a few pieces of Panettone.
Now days, the Mr. and I have carried on some of the same traditions. We still hunt down our perfect Christmas tree (although this year we used our mini tree due to space). We always make a night out of decorating it, with some fun apps and a bottle of wine. Carrying on my Mom's tradition, we also like to find a new ornament to add to our collection every year. Of course, we watch lots of holiday movies, we obviously make and eat lots of cookies, and we most definitely drive around and look at all the holiday lights. But we have also added a few new traditions of our own. We always buy a gift or two for someone in need (via the Gifting Tree at our church) and we always make it a special point to volunteer this time of year. Christmas eve dinner is always a lasagna/pasta dish. Before we attend midnight Mass, we like to watch a Christmas movie or drive around and look at the lights again. And Christmas day, if we aren't with the rest of our family, we're usually lounging in our pj's, watching movies, cooking up a huge feast, and most definitely always eating lots of Panettone.
What are your Christmas traditions?