Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Traditions - Old & New

Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year. I have a reputation for going all-out with my decorating and Christmas traditions, and that has all been taken to a whole new level now that I am a Mom. Ryan and I both agree that there is nothing like the magic of Christmas as seen through the eyes of a child... I'm sure every parent out there knows what I am talking about!

We added a few new family Christmas traditions this year, and I'll tell you all about those in just a minute. First, let me share some of the things that we have always done...

We've always made a photo Christmas card to send to our friends and relatives each year. In the past, it would either have a picture of our dog or a picture of Ryan and I posing with the dog. Of course for the past four Christmases, it's been all REAGAN REAGAN REAGAN!!!
I think that I already mentioned that I like to decorate for Christmas. I have been known to decorate EVERY room in the house, as well as the entire front yard! I've scaled back just a little these last few years, but not much! Reagan has her very own little tree that she decorates, and she is also responsible for placing the star on both her and my tree with the help of Daddy and a step stool.
What would Christmas be without a visit to see Santa? How about THREE visits to see three different Santas? That is what happened this year! We discovered my favorite Santa at the home of a local family who decorates their entire front acre of land with millions of Christmas lights. In the center of the grand display is a giant blue fairy-tale type castle where the most magnificent Santa sits on his giant throne to welcome the kids. Trust me when I tell you that he is fabulous... I even have a small video clip to prove just how much he interacts with each child!

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

My dad started this next tradition when I was a little little girl, and we have continued it to this day... the family Christmas picture. Normally this picture is taken on Christmas day at the completion of opening our gifts from Santa. Since my parents were leaving to go back to SC on Christmas Eve, we opened our gifts with them a little early and captured the picture that evening...
I think that this next tradition is Reagan's favorite... making goodies for Santa! She samples everything that she helps to create! This year we made cookies for Santa and Nokee (I'll explain who Nokee is in just a few more paragraphs) as well as a beautiful gingerbread house. I tend to be a bit OCD when it comes to projects like the gingerbread house, so I let Ryan and Reagan take control of that task while I finished hanging the stockings by the fireplace...
The first thing Reagan does on Christmas morning is to look and see if Santa came the night before. She makes sure that she has a pile of presents, and then she runs into the kitchen to see if he drank the milk and ate the cookies that she left for him. He did this year as in the past, but he also made a little bit of a mess this year when he stepped out of the chimney... there was black dust and soot spread across my Christmas village!
The Santa Bag is a tradition that we started last year, and it is one that we will continue for years to come. All of Reagan's toys from Santa (that will fit) are placed in the Santa sack and left in the middle of the living room for her to unpack. She did the same thing this year as she did last year when she got to the bottom of the pile... she went into the bag just to make sure there wasn't anymore gifts!
I've got some more cute pics of Reagan opening her gifts this year...
I even got some GREAT shots of Anna opening her gifts... she was especially excited about the tickets we got her to go see the BLACK EYED PEAS in concert this April!
We also do a LOT of eating over the Christmas holidays. I started a new tradition last year of Christmas French Toast on Christmas Eve for breakfast, and I also make a breakfast casserole to have on Christmas morning to enjoy once we have finished the hours of present opening. When we are home for the holidays, we always get together with Ryan's family on boxing day (the day after Christmas that is an actual holiday in Canada) for a big dinner and to let the kids open their family gifts. I had hosted this event the last two years, but this year Ryan's brother Kyle and his wife Denise were the hosts in their new home. I was happy to not have to cook, but I was even happier to get some sweet snuggles and cuddles from their precious little girl Karis...
One of my favorite NEW traditions that we started this year is all about a little elf named Nokee. My parents gave us the book called "The Elf on the Shelf" for Christmas last year, and we were very excited to use it this Christmas for the very first time. The book explains how Santa can't manage all of the Christmas magic by himself, so he has elves who help him. Santa sends a magical elf to all of his most special boys and girls to watch over them and to report back to Santa each night. The book even comes with the elf! Reagan named her elf Nokee (short for Pinocchio) the first morning that she discovered him. We had been reading the book together before bed for almost a week, so she knew that she could not touch Nokee or else he would lose his magical elf powers. She also knew that he would watch over her throughout the day and report back to Santa each night when he flew home to the North Pole. Nokee returned to our house every morning, and every morning he landed in a new spot. After only a couple of mornings, Reagan had created a game of finding where Nokee landed and she would race down the stairs to find him! We were sad to see our little elf fly home on Christmas Eve, but we know that he will be back next year to spread more Christmas cheer in our house. (Plus that gives me and Ryan a whole year to come up with some new and fun elf hiding/landing spots!!!
Another first for us the year was the "First Annual Wright Family Tacky Christmas Sweater Party" that our neighbors across the street hosted. We had received our invitation to this party well before my parents came up to visit, so we had requested that my mom bring some of her... ahem... bright and beautiful Christmas sweaters left over from her elementary school teaching days! She even brought a lovely reindeer sweatshirt for Anna to wear! Reagan didn't understand the meaning of "tacky", but Auntie Anna quickly helped her to understand. I was working a wedding that day, so Auntie Anna took charge of helping Reagan to make her very own tacky Christmas sweater complete with real twigs from our backyard hedges for the arms of the snowman. I made it home in time for the party, and we all had a fantastic time. None of us won a prize for the tackiest sweater, so I guess we will have to try even harder next year!
Being that this is Reagan's first year in preschool, this was my first year to receive beautiful hand made gifts from Reagan. I shouldn't say that it is all because of preschool either...Auntie Anna helped Reagan to make gifts for me, Ryan, Momsey & Pops at home. We each received either a tree, a wreath, a santa, or a reindeer that were made from cut outs of Reagan's hands. At preschool, Reagan also made a beautiful pine cone Christmas ornament and a yummy Christmas tree made out of an ice cream cone and lots of icing and jelly beans!
One more tradition was started this year, and it was also a fabulous idea given to us by Momsey & Pops... REINDEER FOOD! Everyone leaves out goodies for Santa, but the reindeer are the ones who do all the hard work of pulling that sleigh across the sky. This year we spread reindeer food across our front lawn so that the reindeer could snack while Santa went down our chimney. What is reindeer food you ask? Why it's a combination of dried oatmeal, dried grits, and lots of glitter!!! The oatmeal and grits are the food, and the glitter helps the reindeer to see our house that much better! Reagan loved running through the yard spreading a little extra Christmas magic that night...
I'm sure that every one of these traditions will continue again next year, and I can't help but to already wonder what new traditions we will create in the years to come!

6 comments:

Sherrie said...

Sounds like you all had a wonderful holiday. We, too, do the elf of the shelf, and ours is named Mr. Jingles. :) DS#1 did the reindeer food in preschool, but I always forget to do that. And -- I threw out my OCD on the gingerbread house and let DS#1 just have his way. It was his creation. :)

I love Reagan's haircut...she's so cute!

Theta Mom said...

What a fabulous holiday! And I am right there with you about holding traditions and creating new memories. Love the pics!

And thanks so much for finding me again! With my move to WP, I know I may have gotten lost...so glad to reconnect with you again Doctor Mommy! ;)

Ashley @ {Let Go, Laughing} said...

wow sounds like an awesome Christmas!! Love the Nokee idea - how fun!

oh and i love your 2010 goal that you commented on my blog! can't wait for it!! :)

Lexie Loo & Dylan Too said...

It looks like you had a great Christmas! The pictures are so cute. We share many of the same traditions. I think traditions are so important!

Alyssa said...

I have heard of the reindeer dust but not the food... you have some great traditions that I hope to remember next year. Our girls are both the same age and I think it is so important to have traditions! Love your blog and I am following you now looking forward to reading more from you.

Jenn@the loves of jenn said...

So glad you had a great Christmas! Reagan is so adorable -great pics!