by: Sandy Domelle
I know, you are thinking that I have my title wrong! No, I’m going to share with you our family tradition that we do every Christmas. Do you have traditions that you have established in your family so that your children have wonderful memories? You may not have grown up in a family that celebrated family traditions, but that doesn’t mean your family cannot have them. Traditions can start with you.
Each year we map out seven days in a row that we will celebrate our days of Christmas. They can change from time to time, but they usually start a few days before Christmas and go until a few days before New Years. What do we do with these seven days? It’s basically things we can do in the late afternoon or at night. We each take a turn choosing something special we will do on each night. We plan this at the very beginning of the month and write what we will be doing on the calendar and nothing interferes with our days of Christmas unless it’s an emergency.
Here are some examples of things we may do. One night may be going for a drive to see Christmas lights and we always make sure to stop for a treat, and hot coffee or cocoa. We enjoy the night of picking our favorite house or street filled with lights. Sometimes we find a special place you drive through with Christmas lights. There’s something so fun about spending time looking at the beautiful Christmas lights.
One night may be pizza, pop and puzzle night. I make homemade pizza with all of our favorite toppings, and we have a special dessert to go with it. Our family enjoys doing a big puzzle during the holidays. We usually get the puzzle out on this night and we work at it all together. We have Christmas music playing and it’s always a wonderful time of talking and spending quality time together. Many times we stay up really late working on the puzzle and we usually don’t finish it the first night. We leave it out on a folding table in the living room so that we can work at it as we have time over the next few days.
Sometimes we go bowling and come home for Popcorn Cake. Popcorn Cake is a family recipe that we make every year. Our uncle, L.J. Parr, would make this every year for us when we first got married. When we moved, it became something I make every year for Christmas.
One night may be baking night. We do a lot of baking through the holidays for special friends and families in our church. I will bake pies, cookies, candies, sweet breads, etc., and we will put together little gift baskets to take to some of our widows or widowers in the church or other families. When we bake, we have the Christmas music playing and we often sing along. Caitlyn helps with mixing and cutting things out, and even my hubby helps out. You say, Bro. Domelle helps! Sure, he’s the official taste tester!!! He sits at the table and sometimes we have him help decorate, but usually he ends up drinking coffee, tasting cookies and chatting with us. This has also been a night that we have made and decorated a gingerbread house.
One night may be game night. We get out the board games that we have and take turns playing different games. We each have our favorite games we like to play, so there’s a lot of competition, and the competition is getting better the older our daughter gets. This is a fun night if Poppy and Granny (my parent’s) are with us, we try to get them to come and enjoy the fun.
Some years we have taken an afternoon to go sledding, make snow angels and a snowman or have a snowball fight, if we have snow. These are perfect days to come in and warm by our wood burning stove and have hot apple cider or hot cocoa. I also make stew in the Crockpot to cook while we are out having a good time.
We may have a day when we travel up to Chicago, Baltimore, Washington D.C. or Dallas, depending on where we have lived, to do special things. All of those places have special things to see during the holidays.
One of these days is Christmas Day itself. On Christmas morning, we always read the Christmas story before opening presents. We have a special time when we focus on Jesus and His birth. We then open presents, get the Christmas music playing and have a big breakfast. I begin cooking because we always have family in. When we got married, our travel schedule was so busy, so we decided early in our marriage that Christmas is the one holiday that we are always in our own home. We may go see someone for Christmas, if we do it’s before or after, but never on Christmas.
Have you noticed that all of these days of Christmas are centered on good quality family time? There are years when your finances are tight, when you must base things around being at home and doing things together without spending money to do them. You can still have a lot of fun and make wonderful memories together. Years down the line you will have great memories tucked away that you look back on as special times. Your children will have wonderful memories from their childhood and teenage years.
I’d love to encourage each of you to set up family traditions in your home. Our families get so busy with everyday life, and it’s so important to slow down and spend good quality time with each other.