I wasn’t going to…

I wasn't going to decorate this year, because we're in a tiny rental house that's already stuffed to bursting with our furniture and us. I even told Kevin I wasn't going to decorate. And then, mere hours later, I was down in the basement unpacking ornaments with Kevin laughing at me because I was quote incapable of not decorating for Christmas unquote. And it's true.

I did restrain myself; one little ornament stand with a peacock theme (three different peacock ornaments, plus other ornaments in peacock colors of rich blue, green, purple). A few strands of crystal hung over doorways and strung around a chandelier. A red pillar candle graced with a cranberry garland. Out of three big boxes of Christmas stuff, I only unpacked about half a box, which I think is tremendously restrained of me. And no tree! There just isn't room for one, and so I am living on daydreams about what my trees will look like in the new house next year. (Yes, that's right, Kevin, you read that right. Treesss! Plural! Do not attempt to thwart me in this, or you will regret it!)

In the past, I've done fairly classic trees with lots of red and gold ornaments. But I think the big tree is going to go in our front parlor, which is probably going to be mostly pale blue and silver in its decor. So maybe it's time to do one of those fabulous white and silver trees? Very glittery, and maybe with handmade paper ornaments too? I think the Victorians were into that... It'll look lovely from the street, through our parlor windows.

But we also need a tree that's more homey, that can accommodate the kids' handmade ornaments in years to come, along with the little picture-of-kids ornaments we already have and various other randomness. (I have a Harry Potter ornament, for example, and Kevin has a Sharks one). So you see, two trees are totally justified. Right?

We're also going to institute a new tradition this year, I think -- new pyjamas, to be opened on Christmas Eve. Neither my family nor Kevin's has ever done this, but I think it's a charming tradition, and even though we're still going to his family's for Christmas, it's time to start making our own family traditions. To that end, I'm taking suggestions. Do you have any favorite traditions for Christmas? (Getting sloshed and sleeping with a stranger is a fine tradition, but probably not the kind we'll be adopting with the kids anytime soon. :-)

11 thoughts on “I wasn’t going to…”

  1. Several years ago, we started a tradition of listening to a recording of Dylan Thomas reading ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales.’ We turn the lights down low, have the Christmas tree lights on, candles, and that cheesy fireplace dvd (which looks nice in the apartment, actually!) and sit and listen.

    The recording is on Audible for six dollars or so…well worth a holiday tradition. 🙂

  2. Hmm…a definite thought. We have the book (Jed got it for me several years ago, I think), but I don’t think I’ve heard the recording. Not sure Kevin would sit still for it, though. Hmmm….

  3. In my family, we always got to pick out a new Christmas tree ornament each year. My mom wrote our names and the year on each ornament. Once I got mine in July when we passed a Christmas shop while on a Cape Cod beach vacation, but usually I’d be combing catalogues and Hallmark shops closer to Christmas. The decision was entirely ours. My mom always said that she’d felt so sad to have all store-bought ornaments, her first Christmas as an adult away from her family, and she wanted us to be able to start with ornaments for a tree that would bring back memories. When I put the tree up in my first apartment after college, I was so very pleased to open the box of ornaments I’d gone ‘home’ to pack up the week before. It made all the difference.

    Now I continue the tradition with my son, although Grandma herself needs to be restrained from buying him a dozen ornaments every year… 🙂

  4. Ah, AJ stole mine! Well, sort of. My mom always gave us an ornament in our stocking each year. As a result, at least 35 of my ornaments were given to me in this fashion. She started off giving us Hallmark ones, but when I got into Victorian stuff in college she obliged me with some very lovely crystal, lace, velvet ones. Now I dearly love both sorts, and I even love the way they look combined on our tree. And, if we ever have space for two trees, I have some for each!

    Anyway, I’ve done that w/ River, too, plus Mom also gives him one, so he’s getting *two* ornaments a year! He’ll be set by college!

    My mom has a “white tree” for her front window, and the big mashup tree in the family room. She had to start it because she has so many ornaments, they won’t fit on a full size tree. There’s more room now that Holly and I have taken our ornaments with us (warning, though: that made our mom REALLY sad, when those ornaments were no longer a part of her tree), but she still has the two trees.

    I have been wanting to start that exact pajama tradition for years now — buying matching ones for both River and his cousin Aleister for Xmas eve — but every year so far it just hasn’t been in the budget. I guess matching Xmas PJs make more sense if you have multiple kids waking up in the same house on Xmas morning, anyway, but it would still be adorable.

    Finally, Holly and I used to take a drive on Xmas eve to go look at holiday lights. It started in college as a way to get away from the stifling family obligations that time of year, but it’s become a nice sisterly tradition, even if it’s a bit intermittent these years.

  5. We’d always sit together Xmas eve and sing carols. We also had this big cloth ‘advent calendar’ hanging, which was a tree and there were pockets with the days on them that each held something that went on the tree.

    We also never put the kings with the nativity/creche until Epiphany.

    I always had my own tradition of listening to the Sesame Street Christmas album….

  6. Lol. Actually our family started the new pjs on Christmas eve thing on Natalia and Kavi’s first Christmas. Remember the pics of all the kids in Christmas pjs. I think Terry aunty started it.

  7. We always did the new PJs thing. We got to open one present each Christmas eve and I was always amazed as a kid that it was pajamas every year! Christmas eve we drive around after church and sing carols and look at lights. We “award” the best house with a note and Christmas ornament. Then we go home and have a picnnic under the tree and listen to Lionel Barrymore’s Scrooge. We also have a traditional German breakfast on Christmas morning and English crackers at Christmas dinner. And yes we wear the silly hats through dinner. If any guests don’t want to wear the hats Mom reminds them that the Queen does! These traditions have all evolved over time and none of them actually started as a tradition (we call the “T”s in our family…as in Mom saying, “Oh no, not a new T!”

  8. When I was a child, we always opened all our gifts on Christmas eve, after we had eaten dinner (or supper, as we called it.) Then our parents slept late (comparatively–until 7:00 or so!) on Christmas day. This was a custom in my mother’s family when she was a child.

  9. Moving to Chicago has caused us to create our own traditions. The kids and I do a gingerbread house together at the beginning of December.

    This year, we started with MooMoo the Cow. MooMoo was supposed to be an elf but I forgot and all that was left that late at night was a dancing, singing cow. It has worked out really well though. MooMoo sends the kids letters and when he doesn’t, he does naughty things!

    Typically, our goal is to get the Christmas trees up by Thanksgiving. We do a main living room tree and trees in each or the children’s bedrooms. Last year, we had to combine 2 trees to make 1 tree that fit in our tall loft ceilings without looking like a 4-ft tree, so we did not do the kids’ trees.

    We have family & friends over after Christmas Eve service for homemade cookies, hot chocolate, and cider. We started allowing the kids to open 1 gift and PJ’s. On Christmas morning, we have a new tradition (to us) where I cook a traditional Trinidadian breakfast after the kids open their presents.

  10. So many great suggestions — thanks! I think for this year, we’ll add:

    – pyjamas on Xmas Eve
    – carol singing throughout season (’cause I love ’em)

    And then maybe next year (at our house):

    – Xmas tree(s) up by day after Thanksgiving
    – drive around and look at the lights one night (maybe two nights before?)

    – carol singing at piano Xmas eve, followed by…
    – fireworks, if we can get them (traditional Sri Lankan Xmas activity) Xmas eve

    – traditional Sri Lankan Xmas breakfast (hoppers!)
    – English crackers at Xmas dinner with wearing of silly hats

    Love it! Thanks!

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