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My Evolving Family Christmas Traditions

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Everyone who knows me knows that I love holidays. Any day I can legitimately add sparkles and champagne to, I do. And, I love Christmas. It can be such a magical and joyful time of year, and we get to celebrate for an entire month.

I have been blessed to have happy Christmas memories throughout my childhood (my parents are amazing,) and I hope that I can also create lasting memories for my daughter (and future children.) At nearly two-years-old, Mia Valentina is off to a great start. Hearing her infectious giggle when my husband turns on our outdoor Christmas lights, knowing she is bee lining to our tree (and ornaments) every time my back is turned and hearing her "sing" her little heart out along with the holiday Pandora station fills my heart with an abundance of love and happiness.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle, I have taken some time to reflect on what the Christmas season has meant to me. Traditions are very dear, and I think they are often what makes the holidays so special and memorable. I am the oldest of five siblings, and my parents instilled in us many values, morals, beliefs and traditions. Many of these were passed down from their parents and generations before, and many are still shared today as we celebrate the holidays.

  1. Advent Calendar - My mom still sends all of her (adult) kids and grandchildren an advent calendar. With much anticipation, this makes it easy and fun to count down the days until Christmas.
  2. A Visit From St. Nick - On the night of December 5th, we hang stockings by the fireplace (some leave shoes out) and St. Nicholas visits the house of good boys and girls, leaving treats and small gifts. This day is celebrated by the Catholic and Episcopalian Church and, since I grew up Catholic, this was even celebrated at my religious schools. This year, my family of three (plus pup) hung our stockings by the fireplace on this night.
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  4. Holiday Music - My mom's love of Christmas music was (and is) a running family joke. She even coordinated neighborhood Christmas carol parties when we were younger. Funny enough, as we have our own children, I see my siblings and I naturally adopt her love (maybe obsession) of beginning the Christmas music in November.
  5. A Family Christmas Tree -Every year as a child, my family went together to a tree farm and cut down our very own tree. Together, we then trimmed the tree. An angel, usually my Great-grandmother's, was placed at the top of the tree to represent Archangel Gabriel. This year, my husband picked out a perfect 9-foot pine to place in our home.
  6. Giving Back - My parents always incorporated some type of charity within the season. They taught us, even as young children, how important it is to contribute to our community. From the Angel Tree to donating gently used items, we always had a charitable family project to work on together. This year, as I work on my own holiday charity project, I look forward to teaching my children about the importance of helping others.
  7. Holiday Baking - Decorating seasonally themed sugar cookies, constructing gingerbreads houses and molding chocolates were, and still are, a fun part of our traditions.
  8. Keeping Christ in Christmas - From attending church throughout the entire season to celebrating the Nativity, we never forgot that Christmas is in fact the birth of Christ.
  9. Believing in Santa Claus - From preparing letters to Santa, planning special visits and getting photos taken, believing in Santa Claus was a magical experience. Now, we delight in seeing the next generation's awe of Santa.
  10. Christmas Grab-bag - Being part of a big family, we incorporated a grab-bag early on. We loved having one special person to buy a Christmas present for. Secret grab-bags were the best. Even this year, my sister and I strategized to (secretly) decipher who is buying for whom.
  11. Christmas Movie - Our family go-to movie is A White Christmas. Growing up, we would sing and dance along with the cast. My grandma (aka Bussica) passed away one year ago, but every year she would ask my sisters and me to again sing "Sisters" from the famous movie.
  12. Christmas Pajamas - This was a very big deal growing up, and it still is. My mom religiously buys matching holiday jammies for the entire brood - pups included.
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  • T'was the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve - Every single year, my family gathers around the fireplace and takes turns reading T'was the Night Before Christmas. On the few Christmases someone can't travel home, they participate via Face Time or Skype. Now, the new generation loves it just as much as the adults.
  • Cookies for Santa - One must leave cookies, milk and a letter for Santa, plus carrots for the reindeer. Of course, Santa is so appreciative that he leaves a response letter in return.
  • Cinnabons - The oohy, gooey breakfast desert is usually ready by 7am and perfectly paired with hot chocolate, coffee and (now) mimosas.
  • Starting a family of my own has given me the ability to begin new family traditions as well. I recently celebrated my sixth wedding anniversary and my daughter is nearing two, so I'm sure we will add many more traditions as new holiday seasons come and go.
    1. American Girl - A few years back, my best friend and I started taking her daughter (my God-daughter) to an American Girl holiday brunch. We go every holiday season, and now my daughter is included in the fun.
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    3. Holiday Cards - Taking time to create unique holiday cards has become one of my favorite traditions. Each year I try to do something different and a little more dazzling.
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    5. North Pole Experience - Since we currently live in AZ., we started a family tradition of visiting the North Pole Experience in Flagstaff. Tucked far away in the magical forest sits Santa's real-life enchanting workshop with Mrs. Clause, elves and so much more.
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  • Elf on the Shelf - No explanation needed! We have Noel Glitter Bomb (and her holiday wardrobe) on display until my tot is old enough to discover this modern-day tradition.
  • Christmas Eve seafood - My husband's most important holiday tradition is "La Vigilia." In Italian, this means the eve, and is celebrated on December 24th. Many Italians also refer to it as The Eve of the Seven Fishes. Traditionally the dinner is meatless and fish dishes dominate. Many people prepare Christmas Eve dinners with a required number of courses that range from 7 to 9. The number seven represents the seven sacraments and nine for the Trinity multiplied by three. Although I don't eat seafood (I am vegan,) we do celebrate Christmas Eve with an array of extravagant seafood.
  • Yule Log - Another tradition introduced by my husband! Long before Pandora was around, television stations provided Christmas music all day on December 25, with an image of festive log showing. We still flip the TV on to the Yule Log.
  • What are your favorite holiday traditions? I'd love to hear about them!