Last year was our son’s first Christmas. In the weeks leading up to December, I tried to think of all of the traditions that my husband and I observe and how these would now become a part of his life for at least the next 18 years. While fantasizing about which traditions might make a lasting memory with him and which he might adopt to pass along one day, I started to think about new traditions we could start just for him. Sure the “Feast of Seven Fishes” is a time honored meal every Christmas Eve, but I don’t know too many babies or toddlers who get excited about it. So we began to implement a few things as we welcome the holiday season that we hope carry on throughout his childhood and possibly beyond.
The Santa Key
In our home, we do not have a chimney. In anticipation of the one day question about how Santa gets in to our house, I remembered a book I read to my old Preschool daycare class about Santa’s magic key. As the story goes, on Christmas Eve, you hang the magic key on the out side on the doorknob of the front door. The key is not supposed to be ordinary, because it is magic and only Santa can use it. That’s how he lets himself in to bring the gifts when no chimney is available for him to shimmy himself down. On Christmas morning, the key is left by Santa, right by the plate of mostly eaten cookies and empty glass of milk, so that we can use it again next year!
Christmas Eve Box
I started this because I think it will be a nice distraction from too much excitement for Christmas morning as he gets older. But I also like that it plays to my German roots of opening gifts on Christmas Eve. There are many variations of this type of box and what people put in them. I opted to add things that will stand the test of time. Let’s face it, with the way technology is evolving I am not sure DVDs will make it all the way through till his 18th birthday- so I omitted that item, although many people do add it to their own children’s boxes. In his box he gets: a new pair of Christmas pajamas, a keepsake ornament to add to the tree, a holiday themed book to read before bed, and a seasonal snack. I wanted to give him something we can use right away in the moment, and hope that as he gets older we can spend time reading together as a family every Christmas Eve night to start another tradition that stems from this one.
This is something that I really like as a tradition because it creates a tree full of memories that can be reflected on each passing year. Last year, being that it was his first Christmas, I knew that the standard ornament was one that included a “Baby’s 1st Christmas” stamp somewhere on it. I couldn’t find one that I loved, so I decided to get this one! It plays the song, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” because it is my favorite kids Christmas song. I thought it was fun and festive and something we can talk about later in life when we are decorating.
We will always include our furry family member in all of our celebrations. Christmas is no exception! Last year my son “helped” pick out the dogs gift and from now on he will pick out one for him each Christmas!
These are just a few of the new traditions that we began last year. We have many others that we plan to continue to incorporate into our holiday schedule and include our son. If you are looking for some inspiration, or new ideas, to start your own traditions here is a list of things that we like to do throughout the season:
- Random Acts of Kindness/ Volunteer work/ Donations
- Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt (finding all the types of lights on our list, see below)
- Advent Calendar
- Giving small gifts to our neighbors
- Leaving snacks for the mailman/ garbageman
- Hosting a holiday open house for friends and family who have made our year special
- Making a big breakfast for the grandparents who visit on Christmas
- Hot chocolate and Christmas movie nights
- Watching “old” Christmas movies no longer on TV (like Garfield’s Christmas Special, Claymation Christmas, etc)
- No electronics/ screens night while we listen to holiday records or the radio
- Christmas baking
- Reading about the Nativity story/ visit a live Nativity