It's that time of year -- I'm up to my ears in crafting, baking, and questing for vintage treasures to gift my loved ones. Today is the first day where I'm really feeling the "Holiday Happy" I used to feel when I was a lot younger. I stopped feeling it like this when we moved up here away from our families and only really began to recapture any of it at all when #1 was a baby. Kids really do make the holidays more fun, I think, and I'm not even a person who is overly fond of children (excepting my own and a few very exclusive others, of course). It has only really been since having children that dh and myself began to create our family traditions. I was burned out by "Giftmas" and had a lot of trouble finding the spirit in it that I remember as a child. Last year I put a lot more of myself into the gift-giving by declaring it a Homemade or Secondhand Christmas. It was more work for me, but truer to the simplicity I wanted to restore to the holiday. We did buy some things for the kids, but mostly because it's rather difficult to find good quality used stuff and they're beyond the ages at which a lot of the homemade wooden toys are aimed.
Our Christmas Eve is a tradition adopted from his side of the family: lobsters, cold salads and buns. I am contemplating attending an evening church service this year -- probably alone -- but need to look around to see if there is one at all similar to what my parents' church always held. After supper, the kids get to open their annual "Xmas Eve" gift of new pjs and a book and then we bundle them all into bed. This is when I arrange all the gifts under the tree and finish up any last minute wrapping.
Stockings aren't a "Santa" thing in our house, so the kids help me prepare them for each other -- I set them out on the couch as early morning decoys to win a few more winks of sleep for us parental units. The last couple years, #2 has been very insistent that Santa was going to bring him something, so Santa did -- before this we didn't do the Santa thing and #1 has never really been interested in it though, for the sake of fairness, Santa brings something for him too.
Christmas morning we breakfast on sugar cookies and eggnog or cider before opening the gifts. We stretch the gift-opening over the run of the day and let the kids stop to play with their stuff as we go along. We do our big dinner on Boxing Day, so there's no need to rush through presents in order to prepare food. Christmas Day is much more about laid-back family time, so we eat pizza or some frozen meals instead.
This has done a lot to make the holiday season something I can look forward to with joy and anticipation instead of dread and stress. I'm continuing the Homemade or Secondhand theme this year and have been knitting like a crazy lady. Hopefully I'll be able to get everything mailed before too much longer!
What are your holiday traditions?