Posted by: Tricia | January 24, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Before I begin this post, let me start by saying that next year we are going to do things differently.  The holidays are already busy enough, what with parties, visiting family, buying gifts, and Christmas programs.  Not to mention, all of the other events that come up!  But, in an effort to not let Christmas zoom by without celebrating properly I decided to cram in more than a few extras.  Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed everything.  But, it was a lot.  And, it made for a busy holiday season.  In retrospect I think I would have left more time for normal life and well…just vegging!

To start off the Christmas season Elliott and I did a little decorating.  He loves putting the ornaments on the tree just as much as I do and I love having a helper!  This year we did something a bit untraditional per Elliott’s request and put colored lights on the tree.

The nativity scene is another one of our favorites.  I have such fond memories of helping my mom put her set so it’s extra special getting to watch Elliott do the same.

This was our third year to do the Jesse Tree.  Elliott absolutely adores this tradition.  He loves the stories.  He loves the ornaments.  And, we all enjoy taking the time to reflect on the beautiful story of the gospel and what it means in our lives.  However, we have yet to finish!!  We start out strong.  But somewhere around mid-December, when things are beginning to get more hectic with our schedule, we get behind.  And, then we get more behind.  We try doubling up on devotions, but we still manage to lag behind.  David and I hate that this beloved tradition has become somewhat of a burden and we are going to research ways to make it work better.  Perhaps the devotions we do are too long.  Perhaps we will have to incorporate the Jesse Tree devotions into Elliott’s bed time reading routine in order to squeeze it in.  Perhaps we need to research and find a weekly devotion plan rather than daily.  It is a wonderful tradition and Elliott will no doubt be sad if we don’t do it next year.

Another tradition that we kept this year was driving around to look at Christmas lights in our PJs while enjoying a nice, cold, FROSTY from Wendy’s!  Yep.  Forget hot chocolate.  We love our frosties!

  Of course, this is another tradition that Elliott has been looking forward to since we started it last year.  This year we made the trek out to Interlochen and were not disappointed.  We hit bad traffic on the way there due to an accident, but driving through the neighborhood was definitely manageable.  Jude did much better this year and did not get upset about being in his car seat until near the very end.

Dressed and ready for Christmas lights and Frosties!

My mom and I have always, always baked cookies together at Christmas time.  Some years we would do it at my Granny’s.  Some years we would do it at home.  We still always manage to make time for this tradition!  And, the tradition has only gotten sweeter since Elliott and Jude have been around.  Elliott is quite the cookie maker.  He is getting much better about being conservative with sprinkles!

This was our second time to visit Six Flags during the holidays with Elliott; the first being while I was pregnant with Jude.  We skipped last year because he was too little.  And, let me tell you, even though Elliott was just a tyke when he went for the first time, he has not forgotten it!  He talks about Six Flags constantly.  At Thanksgiving when his teachers asked him what he was thankful for he said “Six Flags”!  So, you can imagine how excited he was the morning that we told him we were going again!  We grown ups love it, too.  There is something magical about being there at this time of year.

Our little family.  Jude was really happy to be there even though it doesn’t appear that way in this picture!

Elliott with his favorite character, Foghorn Leghorn.  I have no idea why.

We got to ride a lot of rides together as a family.  Can you see Jude’s little redhead poking up in the background?

We are lucky to have a Grandma who loves adventure as much as we do!

  Elliott rode two roller coasters that night.  One in Looney Tunes land, and the Mini Mine Train.  He loved them both!

As for new traditions added this year? I decided to borrow the idea of making a Christmas count down paper chain from my friend, Stacey.  I sat down and looked at the calendar and came up with a fun thing for us to do each day.  Some days it might have been something as simple as “read a Christmas book!”.  Other days Elliott was thrilled with things like “go to Six Flags for Holiday in the Park!”  Every morning Elliott got to pull one of the chain links off.  One great thing that Stacey reminded me about having preschoolers is that they can’t read!  So, some days I would make things up that weren’t actually written on the paper.  Muahaha!  He loved it.  I loved it too, until it really just got to be too much.  We even had plenty of low key activities.  I was careful not to set myself up.  Maybe being in my first-trimester of pregnancy didn’t help things, but I really think that forcing myself to follow through with these daily commitments is the primary problem.  Perhaps next year we can still do the countdown, but with activities occurring only on some of the days.  Oh, and in all of the hustle and bustle I didn’t get a single picture of our chain.  Here’s one I snagged from online.

In addition to our paper chain we also had candy advent chains that we made at our church’s advent celebration.  Jude stayed home with David so it was just Elliott and me.  It was a fun evening…and I don’t have a photo of my own to prove it!  I borrowed the one below from Louanne.  Needless to say the boys absolutely loved the candy chain.  We let them have a piece of candy each night after dinner.

Elliott’s friend, Nadia, with her candy advent chain.

Thanks to Pinterest there were all sorts of ideas to add to Christmas to do list!  These Christmas pizzas were a big hit with Elliott.  I must say that it was so hard getting the dough into the right shape.  Maybe if I’d made my own dough from scratch it would have been easier??  Either way, they tasted good!

These precious snowman hand print ornaments were also an idea I found on Pinterest.  Elliott and Jude each made three; one for Grandma, one for Nonnie, and one for our tree.

I couldn’t resist having Elliott decorate his own styrofoam ball ornament.  I have such fond memories of mine, that now hangs on our tree, although I don’t at all remember making it when I was his age.

This year was the first year that David and I took Elliott out separately to shop for the other, as well as Maverick and Jude.  We included an after shopping treat to make it a little more exciting!  Elliott chose ice cream for his date with David and hot chocolate at Starbucks with me!  I am certain that shopping and treats with Mommy and Daddy will be a tradition that we hold onto for many years to come.

Handsome boy waiting on his hot chocolate

This last bit doesn’t really have much to do with traditions, but I thought I’d include it anyway.  I have been looking for a great way to display all of our Christmas cards rather than throwing them in a basket by the fire place where only the top card is visible.  Thanks to Pinterest again, I found this incredibly easy idea.  1 embroidery hoop + some ribbon + clothespins.  This turned out super cute…unfortunately I didn’t remember to snap a picture of it when it was full of cards.  It was a little hard to find room towards the end when we had so many cards, but it made me happy to see it there in our entry way every day.

Some other things that were on the paper chain included make a Christmas craft (we did several), watch a Christmas movie and drink hot chocolate (we watched several), visit Santa at the mall, play a Christmas game (we played Jack Frost’s Lost – pictured below), our annual PJ book exchange party, our annual Christmas party, and scheduled church activities.

I am certain I am leaving out things because I was not very good about taking pictures of everything we did.  One other thing that I am certain of…I will definitely be downsizing the number of Christmas activities that we try to do next year.  I think less might be more in this case, and with not two, but three, little ones underfoot next Christmas I will already have my hands more than full!



  1. This is all really fun. That photo is so typical Nadia. LOL.

    And I think I sent you the link of truth in tinsel. It went much smoother with Nadia because I think the daily devos weren’t as long as the Jesse Tree book. Anyway, it’s hard to get it all done in our house if we don’t start out with it in the morning.

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