The two of us may be “at odds” on most subjects… but there is one thing that we both definitely agree on: the AMAZINGNESS that is Christmas.
We love it all – the Christmas traditions, carols, foods, presents, games, and more.
And here I sit, on the night of Christmas day itself, completely exhausted and with my eyes barely staying open at the late ol’ hour of 8 pm.
Part of me just wants to curl up in bed… but the other part of me is still giddy and filled with the excitement of Christmas. I know when I close my eyes the day will be over and I’ll have to wait a whole year for it to come again.
So to truly commemorate this day, I’m going to share with you some of my family Christmas traditions and highlights from this year’s holiday.
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Early Christmas Mornings
This year Ry is 4 and Lily is 2. My kids have always been excited leading up to Christmas, but this year Ry was really old enough to enjoy it.
My morning started early…. Like 2am early.
If you follow me you know I SWEAR by this OK to Wake! Alarm Clock. The idea is that it glows green when it’s time to “wake up” and leave the room.
Some mornings Ry wakes up and the light is already green, so he knows he can get out of bed.
Other mornings the light isn’t on yet so he’ll sit in bed reading and playing until he gets the green.
Well, neither of those things happened this morning.
According to my groggy, mom-brain 2am memories and the security footage that I pulled later today, Ry woke up around 2am with a start and excitedly crept out of his room to check if Santa had come. After he confirmed that Santa had, in fact, visited- he hid his clock under a blanket and then snuck into my room.
“Mom, I lost my light, but it’s morning so we can all wake up.”
Mind you, I’m mostly asleep at this point. He’s so full of energy and alertness that I actually believe him. Most mornings I’m up around 5am to get some housework done and work on the blog, so I was pretty surprised that Ry was waking ME up.
So I kind of nod and get out of bed. I’m about to reach over to wake up my husband when out of the corner of my eye I see my phone which says it’s 2am.
“No Ry, it’s the middle of the night you.. uhhh.. have to… zzzzzzzzzzzzz”
I actually have no idea what happened after that. All I know is that I woke up later at 6:32am on the dot when Lily was calling to me: “Mamaaaaa, my light is on!”. I looked over and Ry is fast asleep beside me.
My best guess is that I literally passed out when talking to him and he just snuck into bed with me. Mom-fail? Mom-win? You decide.
Our Christmas Morning Traditions
When I was researching for my article on a No-Toy (or Less-Toy) Christmas, I discovered the idea of making a smash wall. I really wanted to try it this year.
So I got some red and green crepe paper and made a barrier between the kids’ bedrooms and the living room.
I was pretty proud of myself. Not only did I think it looked pretty cool, but it would also serve to make sure no one was sneaking into the living room without detection.
The kids, on the other hand, were really confused.
“What is this thing?” “Did Santa set a trap for us?” “Are we stuck in here forever?”
They were completely perplexed. Even when I told them to try to run or smash through it, they were still apprehensive and gently ripped it away. Oh well, we’ll try again next year.
The night before, I had setup all of our old VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels sets, train tracks, and stuffed animals around the living room.
I guess Lily didn’t remember that from last year, because she was super impressed and excited to see all the toys ready for play. Ry just looked around bored and said, “Oh yeah, Santa always does this”.
Then they discovered their “new” toys that Santa got them.
Ry had asked for a train… so “Santa” got a Thomas train that chugs around the room at lightning speed at a free toy swap she went to earlier this month.
Lily wanted an elephant. Luckily she didn’t specify whether she wanted a real one or a toy, so I found a $5 stick elephant on Facebook Marketplace and called it a day. She was thrilled.
I was already up late last night setting everything up, so I didn’t actually wrap the presents from Santa. Somehow I convinced myself that Santa doesn’t wrap his presents.
However, all day long when family asked Ry what Santa brought him he would tell them about the train that he found unwrapped because Santa had forgotten to wrap it this year.
Who knew that would make such an impression? Mental note to self: wrap Santa’s gifts next year.
READ Is it Wrong to Teach Your Kids to Believe in Santa?
Best Present Awards
After we do Christmas morning at our house, we walk to my mom’s house for breakfast and family gifts.
Let me tell you, I asked for some exciting stuff this year.
I got this compost bucket that I’ve been wanting. So pretty much I’ve decided to just start accepting my crunchiness and go all out.
This year I’m going to up my garden game (pssst… check out some of my other Mom Goals for 2019).
I also got a gift I didn’t even know that I needed: Softies Women’s Ultra Soft Hooded Snuggle Lounger.
Now I’m not sure how I’ve been living without it. It may make me look crazy when I’m wearing it (that’s me in the picture above), but I don’t care because I’m also crazy comfortable.
My mom got the idea from Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2018. Let me tell you, Oprah knows what she’s talking about.
It’s like I’m cuddling a herd of soft puppies.
I’m trying to figure out how I can make it socially acceptable to wear to work tomorrow in an office setting…
Quick back story: Last month we got a scare when one of our neighbors discovered that their basement was flooded. The sump pump had failed and they were looking at 4-5 inches of water that had accumulated.
They used it primarily for storage and didn’t go down frequently, so they had no idea how long the water had been there.
The drywall and floors were ruined and had to be replaced. Even worse, their wedding pictures (which they only had actual pictures of, no digital copies) had gotten wet.
This immediately prompted us to check our sump pump to ensure it was working. My husband also requested the Samsung SmartThing Home Monitoring Kit and some Water Leak Sensors as his Christmas present.
My husband spent a good chunk of the afternoon setting up and testing door and leak sensors around the house.
And now we’ll all sleep a little easier tonight.
We don’t go huge with “Santa” gifts because we know they’ll get gifts from their grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousin.
They got some fun things, including another set of PicassoTiles.
If you don’t already have a set of these, you need to get one ASAP. I guarantee your kids will ask for more at every gift-giving holiday.
They are, hands down, one of our favorite toys. I love the Picasso ones because it’s cheaper than the “Magna-tile” brand name but still excellent quality.
As far as new toys, my son LOVED the Doctor Kit. He spent the entire day taking everyone’s temperature, checking blood pressure, and giving shots.
Lily fell in love with her new bubble umbrella. She had it open in the house and walked around singing, “rain rain go away” over and over.
READ Can Christmas Presents for Toddlers Be a Bad Thing?
Christmas Eve Traditions
We always celebrate Christmas Eve with my in-laws, so that feels like an entirely separate holiday with its own set of traditions!
Ry and Lily know that most kids leave out milk and cookies for Santa, so we figure he’s probably full and tired of that.
Instead, we leave out carrots for the real workers on this holiday, the reindeer. After all, think of all the calories they must burn pulling that sleigh all night!
Bonus, no cookies for Santa actually means no Christmas cookies in my house at all!
READ Are Christmas Treats Bad for Toddlers?
My kids get new Christmas PJs every year to wear for Christmas Eve night.
This year they pretty much stayed in them the entire day of Christmas!
That came in especially handy when they were so exhausted from the long, exciting day that passed out at 7pm. I didn’t even have to put on new outfits – mom-win!
Part of my husband’s family is from Taiwan. One tradition we’ve kept every year for the past 12 years is to have a traditional hot pot dinner on Christmas Eve night.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Chinese hot pot – think cooking your food right at the dinner table, fondue-style.
You have this big pot of bubbling broth and you put in thinly sliced meat, seafood, noodles, veggies, dumplings – whatever you want! Then you eat it all with a customized dipping sauce you make yourself.
It’s super yummy and really is a fun family event.
Even More Christmas Traditions
Sure we change things up a little every year, but here are some of the traditions we always keep.
My family always has a big sing-along with all the Christmas carols we can think of.
(Un)fortunately, there are a lot of Christmas songs. We always try to skip some of the verses to get through them faster.
That’s a good idea, in theory. Problem is, in reality we have a big family and every songs is someone’s favorite. When it’s someone’s favorite, we sing the whole thing.
In the end, we spend a good hour caroling until our voices are hoarse.
This year we did divide up “The 12 Days of Christmas” – that was a lot of fun to sing as a group in parts. However, I got stuck with “a partridge in a pear tree” so I ended up with the toughest job. Well that being said, Juju (my grandmother) got “five golden rings” – I guess that’s no walk in the park either.
Remembering the Reason for the Season
Juju, besides being a stunning carol singer, is also very good about reminding us why we are celebrating Christmas.
We are so fortunate for all that we have and an important part of realizing that is sharing and giving to others.
We always get donations made in our names to a charity organization such as Heifer International.
Heifer, and similar charities, supports impoverished families by providing them with “sustainable agriculture and commerce” for “both food and reliable income”. This includes things like plants, gardening supplies, livestock, etc.
This year we got a cow and a brood of chickens! Milk and eggs can feed the family as well as be sold at the market.
Everyone in my family gives out lottery scratchers as presents. There’s always an annual tradition for who wins the most prize money.
After gift exchange there’s a mad rush for everyone to scratch off their cards, leaving the room covered in those little silver shavings all over the place.
This year my husband and I won with a grand total of… $7.
Yep, $7 of winnings with probably $40-50 worth of scratch cards. Pretty bad return on investment. No early retirement for me this year.
This is my absolute favorite holiday for food.
I’d pass on Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes any day – give me my Christmas feast.
Are there any Christmas traditions when it comes to food? I’m not 100% sure.
In our family we always have ham, green bean casserole, corn pudding, butternut squash, shrimp bisque, spinach salad, and macaroni and cheese.
Good news – I’m so full of yumminess right now I don’t think I have to eat for the rest of the week!
Oh what a magical day, I could talk and write forever about Christmas (obviously!).
But for now, me and my Snuggle Lounger have to get to bed.
Tell me about some of your holiday traditions in the comments, I’d love to read them!