I love traditions. I love the feeling of familiarity, the anticipation, and the excitement when you know what’s around the corner. We have many traditions as a family, some which began when I was a little girl: wakeboarding and tubing in the summer, staying in a cabin as a family every Labour Day weekend, eating dinner at The Keg every time my Aunt and Uncle come to visit, and many more. But some of my very favorite traditions happen at one of my favorite times of year – Christmas.
I remember being a little girl and looking forward to Christmas time so much. My Aunt would come and visit for a week, and every night we would play board games and card games after dinner. On Christmas morning, we always teased her about waking up earlier to open gifts together – one morning, we even tossed rocks at her window to wake her up! We would receive a new pair of Christmas PJs and tree ornament each year, a book from my grandfather … and we would have cod fish cakes on Christmas morning! That was one of my Mom’s traditions when she was little … and unfortunately, we never really took to it!! One year, my Dad decided to start a new tradition of waffles, sausages, and bacon. Now there’s a breakfast tradition that I can get behind (sorry Mom!). Over the Christmas holidays we would decorate the tree as a family, make homemade Christmas cards for our friends and family, and for the past few years, celebrate Christmas Eve with the famous Seafood Dinner! The reason I look forward to Christmas time so much each year is because of these traditions – these shared memories and experiences with my family, and the promise of many more to come.
This year will be Baby E’s first Christmas. It’s our chance to start introducing her to the Christmas traditions that made my childhood so wonderful. These are some of the holiday traditions I’m hoping to continue, or start, with our daughter:
- Christmas Eve: As Baby E gets older, I’d love for us to open one gift on Christmas Eve. My husband is from South America, and when he was little, all of the presents would be opened on Christmas Eve! Perhaps the gift that we open could be a box of goodies for Christmas Eve: a new pair of Christmas PJs, a package of hot chocolate, and a new holiday movie. We could snuggle on the couch in our PJs, sipping our hot chocolate, watching a movie together!
- Homemade Christmas crackers: My Mom and I have been making homemade Christmas crackers for as long as I can remember. We buy the snappers, and then fill the cracker with treats of our own: a joke (a funny one! Not like the silly ones you get in the purchased crackers), a Kinder egg (a chocolate and toy all in one!), a party hat, and anything else we wish to include! Christmas crackers are opened on Christmas Day, in between dinner and dessert! I hope to continue this tradition with Baby E.
- Photo with Santa: I would love to start the tradition of a yearly photo with Santa. I think this would be a lovely way to show how Baby E changes from year to year! Currently we are taking a weekly and monthly photo of her, but I’m not sure how long we will be able to keep that up for. We shall see! This year, we are planning to visit Santa at the Museum – he is coming to Old Town, which I think would be absolutely beautiful. I’m thinking that my husband and I may have to be in the picture this year though – I can’t see Baby E being comfortable enough to sit on Santa’s knee! Or anywhere near Santa, actually! I can’t imagine I would have either at her age … perhaps that’s why this is not a tradition in our family!!!
- Butchart Gardens: Last year was the first year that our little family visited Butchart Gardens at Christmas time (granted, Baby E was in my tummy, but she was there!). We went one evening with some of our close friends, and enjoyed seeing the Christmas lights, looking for the 12 Days of Christmas hidden throughout the gardens, listening to the carolers, and skating on the outdoor rink (well, I didn’t skate last year!). I would love to continue this tradition as Baby E gets older.
- Activity Advent Calendar: My Mom is one of the most amazing mothers you will ever meet. Honestly. When we were little, she created an Advent calendar for my brother and I which I will never forget. Each day, we received a little gift, and stuck one of the fabric ornaments onto the big velcro tree on our wall. I have the best memories of this, and want to continue this tradition for Baby E. I may do little gifts, or I may do little activities for each day. For example, Day 1 may say “Watch a Christmas movie”, Day 2 “Drive around a nearby neighborhood and look at Christmas lights”, Day 3 “Make a gingerbread house”, and so on. An Advent calendar is such an exciting way to count down to Christmas as a child!
- Yearly Ornament: My parents began this tradition for my brother and I. We each had a 4 foot artificial Christmas tree in our room, and we would decorate our trees on December 1st. Pulling out the ornaments each year was so much fun, looking at all of the ornaments I had received that represented me at that time – for example, a Harry Potter ornament the year I read the books, or a snowboarding ornament the year we went to the mountain for the first time. Today, in my own place, I still bring out this tree and decorate it with all of the ornaments that remind me of the other Christmases with my family. I definitely want to continue this tradition for Baby E, and we have already started. My husband and I found a little felt owl ornament – an owl for our little night owl!
- Elf on the Shelf: This is a brand new tradition for our family, but one that I am very excited about! The Elf on the Shelf has become extremely popular with children over the past few years. For those of you who don’t know the story, this little elf is shipped to your house from the North Pole, and watches over the children during the month leading up to Christmas. The elf has magical powers, and returns to the North Pole each night to report to Santa. When the children wake up in the morning, the elf is frozen in his place. This year, our family received our elf! The first task is to name your elf, but we wanted Baby E to have this opportunity. So for now, following the tradition of many of the toys in her life (Froggy, Bunny, Fishy), she will be known as Elfie! Last night, Elfie was up late getting a head start on the Christmas decorations!
As always, I am looking forward to Christmas, and the time spent with family and friends. I look forward to all of the traditions that we have grown to love and expect. Most of all, I look forward to sharing these traditions with Baby E, and helping to make this a magical time of year for her as well.