I’d spoken before about how having a child has totally changed how I see tradition. Suddenly, I want lots. Where there was just me and Tony previously and we were happy to play it by ear for each major holiday, I’ve now gone all “Let Fairy Lights Drip from our Rooftop!!!” when it comes to Christmas and Chinese New Year.
Well, 2 Christmases ago I tried to put together a gingerbread Tardis for Tony – and failed. It seemed a great idea at the time – you know, I get the practice now, I get better over the years and when Arddun is finally old enough to help out, we can Do It Together for Daddy. Gingerbread Tardis – it’d be our thang. Traditional, yet geeky. Perfect.
Completely overlooked the fact that I’ve never baked gingerbread ANYTHING before.
Bought lights for the tree in 2011. They overheated and popped. No lights last year.
Forgot to buy stocking fillers for anyone.
I am still unthwarted. Along with New Year Resolutions, I’m guessing that new Christmas and CNY traditions are also going to be my thing. Inventing them, carrying them out, refining them along the years. Throwing out the ones that make Tony sigh with resignation and long-suffering, keeping the ones that bring genuine joy and require very little cleaning up after.
We went to Melbourne after Christmas last year, which was the centrepiece of our Christmas-New Year holiday. But we also had a combined Christmas lunch with another family which was something we really enjoyed. This year, as Arddun starts to understand even more about the world she’s a part of, I’m compiling a list of traditions that we may or may not try out.
Googled and found the following great suggestions
- New pajamas on Christmas Eve
It’s summer for us during Christmas time, so I’m not sure how this might pan out. Will probably NOT get flannel PJs, but maybe something cool and cotton might work.
- Christmas Lights drive by in pajamas. Ice chocolate after
I have a thing about children (and adults) wearing their home clothes or their sleep clothes out of the house. Never liked it, absolutely will forbid Arddun from doing it, think it’s slightly indecent somehow. BUT along with the new jammies perhaps, we might enjoy a collectively silly session on Christmas Eve of trawling the neighbourhood Christmas lights displays while wearing spanking-new rubber ducky pajama pants. And Monty Python Killer Rabbit Slippers. Of which we already own TWO pairs.
- Nativity scene
I used to be quite weirded out about celebrating Christmas as Jesus’s birthday, because I’ve always been conscious about how Christmas – as we know it – was basically a pagan holiday rebranded around the 4th century. That said, in the spirit of building our own family traditions, I think we can make Christmas anything we want it to be. And if that includes thanking God for sending his Son to us and celebrating such humble yet powerful beginnings, then why not. Some parents buy a nativity set and have their young children reenact the historical event. Others place the nativity scene under the Christmas tree and have the baby Jesus figurine come just a little closer to the manger every day. We haven’t decided what we’d do for Arddun yet, but teaching her about the birth of Christ (and that He wasn’t Anglo-Saxon, contrary to all the nativity scenes in shopping malls!) could be a part of what we do. All the hoopla about it not being the actual date that Jesus was born can come much later.
- Christmas tree up on 1 December
Yeah, that one bombed last year. Better luck this year.
- Gingerbread house baking together
See above regarding Tardis. Down, but perhaps not out yet.
- A Christmas Book a night for advent
I like this one, as it turns a regular part of Arddun’s bedtime routine into something a little more special. I can’t remember where I first saw this suggestion, but Kate did one better and individually wrapped her 12 Christmas books so her children could enjoy the simple pleasure of ripping into a mini-gift each night before Christmas. Will be doing this one with Arddun when she gets older, methinks.
- Loose change for charity at the end of the year
There are a few ideas buzzing around my head regarding our little family and the charities we support. One idea I’ve read recently was to keep a large jar somewhere central in the house where family members could empty loose change over the course of the year, and then have a family conference at the end to use the loose change to support a charity or an individual we know in need.
- Christmas Eve board games
I looooove board games. I hope Arddun does too. Better yet, if we can have another child, then we’ll finally have the numbers for Mahjong. I’m just thinking aloud here.
- Christmas Eve movie
Someone window-shopping at JB Hifi recently asked me if I could recommend a good Christmas movie. Apparently, it was tradition in her family to pick out a movie about Christmas and watch it on Christmas Eve. I suggested Joyeux Noel but they had already done that one.
- Christmas family photo
Cheesy. But necessary. Especially if you’re going to dress up the kid.
I’d like service for another to become an important part of our Christmas holidays, so apart from flinging money in the general direction of the needy (see No.7 above), I like the idea of bestowing the gift of time. Perhaps something like volunteering our skills to wrap Christmas presents at a shopping mall where proceeds go to a charity. (Because soup kitchens, as we found out, are actually getting difficult to volunteer for.) Still refining this one, but the basic idea is that Christmas should always be about giving, and it’s something we want to teach Arddun through practice.
- Scavenger Hunt
I used to create GREAT scavenger hunts when I was in my teens and had waaay more energy to think up abstract clues in rhyme. Time to dust out this life skill in a few years’ time and get the scavenger hunt going on Christmas Day! This will, of course, involve quite a bit of plotting beforehand, and on-the-spot guidance on the day.
What Christmas traditions do you have? What did you do last year? Can I steal some more ideas?
10 January 2013 at 1:36 am
I don’t think you can really force tradition… sometimes things just happen… and i think celebrating and just trying to see what you can do may be the best part of it all… as for the nativity scene… my mom had one and all but my grandma just had a little baby doll in a manager and i always played with it and it was my baby Jesus… she just gave it to me this past xmas because she wanted me to have it… these are the things you remember… the little stuff and family get togethers because that’s what matter the most…
10 January 2013 at 3:32 am
Oh i so hear you on this one. Never really did give much thought to traditions, however, being alone here for the last 3 CNYs made me more aware of what family holidays mean to me. Since i don’t have family at all here i’ve been inviting friends over for some rather decent home cooked CNY dishes. Afterall, my friends are my extended family.
Christmas never was big in my family as we were Buddhist. But Darcy grew up a Catholic and after having Ezzy I find myself trying to introduce the two worlds to her so that she makes her own choice on which path to choose when she is older.
So last Christmas preparation saw me asking Darcy a WHOLE lot of questions of what they did as a family and kids for Christmas, what are the family traditions he would like Ezzy to have and so on and so forth. Of course, we’ve also started lil family traditions of our own at the same time as well.
So here are our Christmas traditions that we had last year :
1. Christmas picture with Santa as a family.
2. Watching Big Bang Theory’s A Bath Item Gift Hypothesis.
3. Ezzy putting up the Christmas tree topper with Daddy.
and hopefully in the years to come …
4. Ezzy helping Daddy in the kitchen for Christmas dinner.
5. Ezzy helping Mummy decorate the Christmas tree.
6. (and this is Mummy’s wish) Ezzy posing with her furry brother and sister for Christmas photos. *grin*
I am sure we will, as with all new families, fine tune, change and adapt these Christmas traditions. But it all come down to spending time together as a family during any holiday season. :)
10 January 2013 at 7:47 am
lovely post – yes amazing how traditions become so exciting when kids get in the picture! thanks for the shout out too… well, you know i love me some family traditions – here is a list of ours – http://livinglovinglaughingtogether.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/christmas-traditions-our-family-way.html – many similar to what you have listed, but never been game yet to try the gingerbread house, I just dont think I could handle the pressure haha :) Scavenger hunt sounds super fun for the kids too, lovely idea!