One of the characteristics of a strong family is having traditions. Actually, Family Life is built on little traditions we maybe aren’t even aware of. Like having pancakes every Sunday morning, the movie nights on Fridays or taking back-to-school pictures on the first days of school.
Celebrating Christmas is also built on simple little traditions. These traditions make our children look forward to the holidays every year. They love the little rituals and stick to them. Having the same buzz strengthens the family bond, which is the stronger, the further will last. Also, these are the things they will always remember from childhood and take with them for their adult lives to implement in their own families. So nourishing traditions, especially Christmas traditions, make a deep impact both short and long-term.
Sidenote: In this post, I’ll be referring several times to the fact that we are a large family. Assuming you haven’t read my About me page yet, or my bio at the bottom of this post, I thought I’d give you a heads up: we are a family of 11, still growing. 🙂
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In our family, we have very simple little traditions, that we can adjust in any circumstances, considering changes come often and fast to our life. We must always be ready to adapt.
- Our all-time favorite is sleeping under and around the tree. We’ve been doing this for many years now, and as the older children grow out of this tradition, the smaller ones grow into it. So we always have a bunch of kids sleeping under the tree at Christmas time.
- When our teenagers were small, for a few years we used to have “an angel” to dress up our tree, but as they grew up and got a little peek into all the work around Christmas, we established a new tradition. They wanted to become a part of all the work, so now traditionally the children get hold of the tree and the ornaments. They make a beautiful tree each year. The magic hasn’t lost a bit.
- Our ornaments must apply to two simple requirements. First, it must be unbreakable. Anything fragile can’t go on the tree. Second, it must be red or gold or something natural. I simply can’t imagine Christmas with other colors, and within this scheme, I find decorating can be variable and meaningful.
- Since our first Christmas together as a family, our tree top is an angel in a red garment. We have tried to change tree topping once or twice, but in the end, she always wins and sits on the top of our tree each year. A Christmas is not a Christmas without her. It is just like ours, without the lights:
- According to traditions in our country, we open presents on Christmas Eve. In such a large family it can quickly get chaotic, so we had to make some system to keep things in hands. Mostly it looks like something like this: we choose one of the younger children who had done a great job to prepare for the celebration, to pick the first present. If no one is to reward, then the youngest will have the honor of choosing the first present. When the recipient opened it, and we all shared his or her joy, he or she will pick and hand over the next gift. This way everyone’s able to see what the others got and chaos stay out of our celebration. (Meanwhile, I pick up wrapping papers all the time to prevent mess too! :)) This little arrangement has been working well for us for many years. The youngest ones already grew into it, so it takes no effort to make them get used to it.
- Christmas Eve, we read the Nativity story from the Bible and sing carols too. Some of the girls play their instruments. For me, these are the most precious moments.
- During the Holidays, mostly on Christmas Day, we watch the movie The Nativity Story, too. Sometimes the children say that we should pick another movie, but we never do. It is still one of our traditions. It’s not that we have to watch it, it’s that we want to. For me, this movie has a new message every year. I guess this is the case for the children too, so we don’t ever change eventually. Maybe it’s not the movie. It’s the story!
- Christmas Morning we go to church and celebrate Christmas there. The children get their special gift of books there too. This little gesture strengthens the connection between them and the church. They keep a record of all the books they received there and can tell which one when was gifted to them. That’s a pretty impressive impact they get.
- In our community, we collect shoeboxes for Christmas. Our children exactly know the worth of it because we get some sometimes. The most fun Christmases are when we make and also get them. We’ve had years when we had to be so frugal that we made for our kids too, and that was the only gift they got. Those are the most memorable Christmases for them. As scared as I was how they would react, they loved it the most.
- Our Christmas menu is also pretty traditional each year. We always make duck with side dishes like cabbage and mashed potatoes. The meal is something we all really look forward to because mostly this menu is on the table only at this time of the year. (I make the ducks – yes actually I make two ducks – like this and this. My absolute fav.)
- There are no Holidays without fruit in our home. This is the time when we don’t get frugal over fruits. And yes, this is a tradition! Something that the children very much look forward too. It came from my childhood when our favorite gift from our grandparents were all the rare fruits we saw only at this time of the year. Like orange and bananas. Now we have them all year long if we want to, but not in this amount. 🙂
- I left those things to the end of the list that we make a few weeks prior to Christmas. These lead up to the warm and cozy Holidays we love so much. At the end of November, we pull out all the Christmas Decor we have, and decorate the house in and out. With six girls in the house – aged 5-15 – we have pretty hard-working hands and creative minds who utterly enjoy dressing up the house for Christmas. This not-so-little project is special for all of us.
- We usually have an advent calendar too, but there were a couple of years like last year when I just simply couldn’t come up with an idea to please everyone with the countdown, so I left it there. Everyone drew for herself the one she wanted. Sometimes we read the Jesse-tree stories too along with the activities in the calendar. And sometimes it’s just Sundays when we remember and spiritually prepare for CHRISTmas. Well, this is our most flexible tradition.
- We have a simple advent wreath each year and lit the candles each Sunday. It brings the Christmas spirit closer. And the kids love candles!!! But only are allowed to lit them at this time of year.
- A few days before Christmas we have a Family Cookie Baking Party. This is also a tradition that our children really look forward to. Working together creates an atmosphere of closeness and connection we appreciate very much. We take some of the cakes to neighbors and friends as a Christmas greeting.
There are always new things we try or do but they don’t become our tradition for some reason. There are traditions we are working on implementing or bringing back because we did at some point and then left it. I have a lot to talk about Christmas and traditions, so you may find more about it here soon. Don’t forget to come back later if you want to see!
What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Share it in the comments below!
Have a nice day! 🙂