Looking back on some of my favorite Christmas traditions, I can’t help but smile. The silliest memories make the best ones. Here are a few of ours – do you have any traditions that make the holidays memorable? Comment below to let me know!
For as long as I can remember, my Mom and I were the ones who decorated the tree at our house in Germany. Despite being in Boise for December 25th, we always had a tree – and it was always decorated. It must be perfect, with evenly spaced ornaments, lights and beads. Over the years we collected hundreds of ornaments that were unique (mostly) and made our tree look so different from any other Brit family in the neighborhood. We bought most of these decorations from the US, and packed them in our suitcase each year. It was always sad packing them away for the next year, but by the time we put up the tree again it was so magical to open up the storage boxes and find our forgotten purchases.
The Children’s Tree
Although the main tree was beautiful, I always slept with a small tree in my bedroom. This was the ‘tasteless’ tree – a cluster of colors that didn’t go together and ornaments that definitely didn’t belong on visible display. The set of Grinch ornaments sat in clumps on the tree, among bunches of plastic strands that lit up and changed color (the tree is similar to this one, except much more sparse and only 3 feet tall). While it wasn’t the most tasteful tree in the world, I absolutely loved decorating it by myself and leaving it on to project the colors around the room as I fell asleep.
Most years I had two advent calendars – now before you think that sounds excessive, it was the sweetest thing. In one of them, my Mom or Dad would leave me sweet little notes every night to open the next morning. The other one was usually pre-filled and from a store. Some years it would be the Playmobil advent calendar that over the course of the month, created a Christmas set. Other years it was a Cadburys daily chocolate morsel. It was tough to decide between the two, but looking back the chocolate was an obvious winner (I am in my twenties, and my Mom still sent one to me this year).
(Please excuse the ‘indie’ 2008 camera angle on a 13 year old’s badly decorated gingerbread house).
In elementary school, nativity plays were a focus for the last few weeks of the term, and the week that we finally performed was so special because of it. Wearing silly costumes and standing at the back of the stage to sing a carol was so much fun (despite the embarrassment). Carols were fun to sing, but more fun to play when you’re sat by your best friend with tinsel wrapped around your clarinet! Playing the clarinet around Christmas was just so convenient to spread cheer! Nothing screamed ‘Christmas!’ to me more than our end of year performances, and I can’t wait to be an attendee when my niece is old enough.
Hauling our way to Boise!
Each Christmas, we would pack our bags (an all-night task) and drive to the airport at the crack of dawn facing a twenty-four hour journey to the states. Most people would dread this part of the holiday, but the sheer idea that it was our family tradition, let me to love it. A highlight that we still talk about as a family was my eight-year-old ability to make friends with my neighbor on the plane. This was all well and good until I made friends with someone sat next to me on a flight that was removed from the customs line once we had landed in the States, for allegedly using a fake passport. I don’t make as many airplane friends anymore.
Like I say, these are only a few of my favorite memories. Do you bake cookies before Christmas? Or decorate the tree as a family while eating pizza and drinking apple cider? Despite being older and not sticking to many of these traditions anymore, I am on to my own rituals – snuggling my niece on Christmas morning is something I am so excited to do each year.