The Christmas season seems to be the time of year steeped in tradition and it’s interesting to learn what traditions family’s share. Traditions are behaviours and actions that are engaged in over and over again, regular rituals that are performed at the same time or in the same way. They are often passed down from generation to generation. When done right, they lend a certain magic or spirit to our everyday life!Here are some beautiful traditions I know of. It’s not necessary to adopt them all, but if you find a tradition that speaks to your heart, claim it for yourself and start a new family tradition with your loved ones!
Baking cookies & Watching Christmas Movies Together – I know of one family that gets together in early December (they actually did this in early November this year because they were moving!), to bake batches of cookies together, with Christmas movies playing in the background. You need to make sure to use a timer while baking, or you run the risk of burning the cookies! They split the baking up between them and store them in containers in the freezer. Be careful not to dip into the too early or there won’t be any baking left by the big day!
Christmas Decorations – This is one of our family traditions, now moved on to the second generation, where Grandma and Grandpa give the children a new ornament each year, until they are 16 or 18 years old. As the child leaves home, they are already set up with a collection of personal ornaments to start their own tree with. My parents did this with our girls, and we have done the same with our own grandkids. Angels or Santa figures as a theme, and every year they all get the same ornament. The collection is getting to be quite interesting!
Pajama’s and books – Christmas Eve – A local book-store owner told me about her family tradition where her Grandma gave the children a gift to be opened on Christmas Eve. It was always a set of pj’s and a new book (perhaps Grandma paved the way for this one?). Although her own mother didn’t adopt the tradition with her kids, Mary has – and each year she gives her own grandkids a set of pj’s with a storybook. Love this one!
Lighting Santa’s Runway – We fell upon this tradition when we moved to Almonte from Clayton. Union Street has a Christmas Eve tradition of “lighting Santa’s runway”, where all the neighbours line the street with paperbags filled with sand and a lit candle. The neighbours start lighting the street at dark, and we would bundle up the kids and take an after-dinner walk down the beautiful candle-lit street, searching for Santa and his reindeer in the sky. (You’d be surprised how many of our little ones have seen him during this walk!) Pure magic!
Foodbank Donation – Many families make a point of donating a little extra to the foodbank during the holidays. Many moons ago we would have a “porridge” dinner as a symbol of those less fortunate, and then donate our dinner to the local foodbank. Not all our kids appreciated the porridge, but they did appreciate the symbolism and donation.
Attending a Church Service – As people find their spiritual path in many ways now, some folks still love to attend a Christmas Eve church service to mark the occasion. Candle light and Christmas Carols and the telling of the Christmas Story are beautiful rituals to celebrate, for those so inclined.
Christmas Eve Dinner – One last family tradition to share is one that our own kids look forward to, and I am sure our grandchildren will adopt in their lives too. We all gather together for an “appetizer” dinner with a table filled with a variety of family favourites – from meatballs and veggie trays, to s
moked salmon and Chinese dumplings, to cheese platters and shrimp rings. The whole family loves this style of eating, and it’s one of our favourite holiday meals together. Of course, the evening is completed with a walk down Santa’s runway before they all head home to bed!
Whatever traditions or rituals your family chooses to adopt, keep in mind that you are paving the way for future generations in your family. They don’t need to be grand and expensive, they just need to be special to you and yours!