It’s Christmas time!! I am so ridiculously excited for Christmas with my baby, so I thought it would be fun to share some of my Christmas traditions growing up and some of the traditions I am starting with my little family. My dad told me a story last Christmas while I was pregnant and it almost made me cry with excitement, so I think it’s worth a share here. Years ago he had some friends who weren’t sure if they wanted kids or not. While talking with my dad they asked him how your life changes when you have kids, and one of the things he told them will warm your heart. He said “You remember when you were a kid, how excited you were on Christmas morning? And now Christmas morning is just kind of another morning? Well when you have kids, that excitement comes back”. Not surprisingly, they had a baby about a year later. Last Christmas I was pregnant and tired and just didn’t get fully in to the Christmas spirit, I was really just wishing I had my baby to celebrate with. So this Christmas I am all sorts of excited to share Christmas with Oliver and even though he’s not fully aware of the joy of Christmas morning, I can’t wait to open gifts with him.
I’ve never been an early morning person, even as a child. So the whole busting down mom and dads door at 5 in the morning to open gifts wasn’t a thing I did. I was more of a sleep in and wander out to the tree around 9 or 10 type kid. My mom told me one year her sister called around 10 to see how our Christmas morning went and I was still in bed. I think that I slept in so late because I remember always being too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve. I would go to bed and just lay there staring at the ceiling listening for my parents to go to bed. I mean, Santa isn’t going to come if they are still up, so I needed them to go to sleep so I could listen for Santa. Of course, I always feel asleep after an hour or so, but usually I would wake up around 3 in the morning and sneak out to see the tree. I loved sneaking out there and looking at what Santa had brought, but I never felt the need to open anything right then, I was just happy he had come. When I got older and started questioning Santa, my mom told me 2 things that I 100% plan on doing with Oliver. First she told me that while Santa himself may not be real, he represents the spirit of Christmas and that believing in Santa is really believing in the joy and happiness Christmas brings. While Santa himself may not be real the spirit of Christmas that he represents IS real. Second, when I didn’t think it was necessary to leave cookies for Santa she told me “every year you have put out cookies for Santa, and every year there have been presents under the tree the next morning. Is that something you really want to risk?” So angsty little me got some cookies on a plate for Santa and grouched my way to bed. Now, I absolutely love that she made me do that. My mom loves Santa. Like, a lot. And her excitement and love of Santa has definitely rubbed off on me. It’s not about the man himself, because when you break it down Santa is actually kind of creepy. But everything that Santa represents is something to love. I’ve seen some parents that don’t “lie” to their children and tell them from a young age that Santa isn’t real (looking at you Kristen and Dax) and I just can’t get onboard with that mentality. I never considered that my parents lied to me about Santa, they just wanted me to have that joy and excitement that Santa represents and I intend to pass that right along to my child.
Arguably my favorite Christmas tradition is getting a new ornament each year. Every single year of my life, I have gotten a new Christmas ornament and it was always so fun to see what I got that year as well as getting out the ornaments from years past. These ornaments are my favorite to get out each year and remember throughout the years. My ornament from 1998 is a little puppy tangled in Christmas lights, and that year I got a puppy for Christmas. My very first ornament is a silver rocking horse with my name engraved on it, 1995 is a cheese tree with a mouse putting the star on the top. I could go on for about 26 years worth of ornaments but they point is they are just so fun to look back on year after year. The last 10 years have been a series of snowmen making holiday memories, so I know what to expect from them but they are so special to me. When I started having Christmas with Mauricio, I told him about how my mom would get me a new ornament each year, and he totally embraced it. We now have 2 different series that we are collecting together, and we usually get another new ornament signifying something from our year together. We have an ornament from the year we were married, and the year we moved in to our new home and parents-to-be ornaments from last year. The past few years collecting ornaments with Mauricio has been so fun because growing up he never had a tradition like that and I can tell that he is really starting to enjoy looking back at the ornaments of our years together. So, of course this year we are starting Oliver’s ornament collection. We wanted to start a series for him, but here weren’t any cute ones starting this year, so we just went with baby’s first ornament and hopefully next year he can start a cute series. Oliver also made another ornament at a Christmas party we went to. It was supposed to be his little handprint on a ball, but it’s more of a blob/smear. I wrote his name and dated it though, so he’ll know it’s his for years to come.
A major Christmas morning tradition in my house growing up was sticky buns. On Christmas Eve my mom and I would prepare them, then they had to sit and rise for the night and would get baked in the morning. So right around the time you started getting a little hungry from all the present opening, there were sticky buns ready to go! It’s a pretty simple thing, but for some reason I haven’t carried this on with my Christmas mornings with Mauricio. I’m not really sure why, maybe I’m just not as planned ahead as my mom. But there are plenty of other foods that we only do at Christmas that I love doing.
One is Maids of Honor, which doesn’t sound like a food but they are actually some of the greatest little treats ever. They are a British classic and my dads mom would often make them for our family Christmas parties when I was young. When she stopped making them my parents started making them and sending them to family at Christmas. It turned it to a tradition that I love. They take a bit of work to make, but we make a little assembly line and knock out anywhere from 100-200 every year. Mauricio has really embraced this tradition of ours and loves making plates for his friends and co-workers as well. Another baking venture I take on is rum cake, which is a recipe from my moms mom for the most delicious cake, especially if you follow her instructions which includes about 3 rum and cokes. I think I just may have gotten my love of rum from her. Now, with Mauricio’s mom we have the tradition of making tamales on Christmas Eve. When I say we, I mean Mauricio and his mom make tamales while I watch. Every once and a while I’ll try and construct one, but for some reason I am ridiculously bad at it. I put either way too much or way too little masa and then spill the meat all over and make a mess trying to fold it up. It’s just bad. Meanwhile, Mauricio and his mom will have put together about 10 perfect tamales each. I love tamales, but they are a TON of work, which explains why we only really make them on Christmas Eve. Starting around Thanksgiving and going through about New Years, I also make sausage dip regularly. It’s a relatively easy recipe from my aunt that I pretty much have memorized because I will seriously make about 5 batches during the holiday season. It’s one of those dip recipes that’s probably really bad for you since it’s about 80% cream cheese and sour cream, but isn’t that all dips when it comes down to it? Despite being bad for me, I always have the stuff to make it and usually always have a batch it the fridge for a solid month. I won’t lie, one time I made a batch and Mauricio and I ate the entire thing that night, it’s that good. Holiday food is one of the things that make the holidays so great, even if it’s pretty much all bad for us.
I guess the only way I really counteract the whole eating all the bad food is by roaming around the mountains looking for a tree to cut down and drag back to the house. Mauricio and I have gone tree hunting I think 3 out of the 6 Christmases we’ve shared together. In our little house we didn’t really have room for a tree, but one year we cut one down and awkwardly inched around it for a month since it took up basically our whole kitchen/dining area. Since we have moved in to our new house we have gotten a real tree 2 years, and gone tree hunting all 3 years. Last year was a mess, I’ll just leave it at that. Basically every year there is something that goes wrong, or we end up with a ridiculous tree. But for some reason we really like clambering around in the snow with a saw in hand looking for that perfect tree. This year we took Oliver in his backpack and spent way too long looking around an area that had essentially no Christmas trees only to run out into the forest while Oliver was napping in the truck to cut down the first decent tree we saw before it got dark. It was a long day, but we ended up with a fine tree, and I’m sure chopping down a real tree in the mountains will be a family tradition for us.
This year I did something for the first time that may turn into a tradition for me. Since we always seem to have to cut some limbs off of our tree, we tend to have lots of trimmings. So this year instead of letting them die in the driveway like I have in the past, I decided to make a live wreath. My little town has a whopping 1 craft store, and it’s a combination craft/party store that’s probably only about 200 square feet. The point is, there aren’t a whole lot of craft options for me here. So when I was actually able to find a bare ring to start my wreath with I was empowered to actually get it done. I’ve never made a wreath before, which I made obvious to the store clerk when I asked her what else I would need to attach my crap to the ring. A few days and one hot glue gun burn later, I had made my first wreath, and I think it’ll be something I will want to do year after year.
I look forward to creating traditions and memories for Oliver. I can hardly wait to experience my baby’s first Christmas. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and I’d love to hear some of your holiday traditions, as long as you don’t mind if I adopt them for myself.