Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Traditions - holiday season with heart and soul

As the years pass by it seems that each holiday season becomes more and more commercialised. Even if you aren’t religious, you can still appreciate that Christmas is a time when families come together and we are able to spend time with loved ones, give gifts to show our appreciation for them and eat an abundance of delicious food that was laboriously prepared with love (and probably a few questions of ‘why did I agree to cook all of this food??’) I have to admit, even I get caught up in the Christmas hype. There’s the ‘need’ to find the perfect gift, the list of people to buy for continues to magically grow, then there’s the photos with Santa (that always end up with horrible shadows from the direct flash, but you still pay a small fortune for them), the ridiculously expensive decorations that you end up buying more of each year and enough food to feed a small army. This year I am determined to find what I want Christmas to mean to us.

Christmas is such a beautiful time of year. Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and making sure everything is right for everyone that we forget to stop and reflect on what Christmas means to us. What does Christmas mean for you?

Christmas Day itself is going to look a little different for us each year. We have to share the time with Steve’s children between himself and their mum as well as having to share the time with Alexander between ourselves and his dad. Can you see how this could get a little messy? It would be easy to get upset and depressed that Christmas Day may never be what it is for other families, but instead we have decided to focus more on all of the days surrounding Christmas and not get too caught up on Christmas Day. As long as we get to do each of our traditions at some point over the few days surrounding Christmas then we will be happy.

So here are a few traditions we want to represent our family’s Christmas:

The Christmas Eve Box – this year I am starting the ‘Christmas Eve Box’. This is a box containing a few small gifts for the kids to open on Christmas Eve. This year the box will include a pair of pyjama’s, a DVD (Thomas the Tank has won that spot for Alexander this year), a book and a small toy.

A family meal – at some point, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, I would like to have a sit down meal with all of my family. Now, I have a very large family including six brothers, plus all of the additions that come with their own little families, which means that there may have to be a few different sessions to be able to include everyone. It’s okay if we’re not all together at once, as long as we are able to spend a bit of time together, have a catch up and just be thankful for each other then I will be a very happy woman.

Donations to the less fortunate – a few years ago I started a tradition with my family and I have every intention of continuing it, and including any family members that want to participate. Each member of my family puts $10 in to a kitty, we then go and buy (non-perishable) groceries with that money and donate to the local charity that needs the help. We could easily mix this up a little and donate toys or small gifts to one of the many charities that help those less fortunate at Christmas.

Stories – when I was younger I could recite the words to ‘The Night Before Christmas’. I can still remember most of it now. That’s because it was read to me, and as I became older, I read it so many times. I love the idea of having a book to associate with Christmas every year. Personally I like the traditional stories but you could easily use the Aussie versions of these or any new modern version if you’d prefer. Also in the category I need to add the Christmas tradition my family has had for around 10 years now. Each year on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, we watch the movie ‘Elf’ with Will Ferrell in it. We have seen it so many times now that we quote from it at various stages throughout the year. One of my brothers went to New York a few years ago and I absolutely had to say to him ‘First off, if you see gum on the street, leave it there. It isn’t free candy’.

These traditions are the important parts of Christmas to us, they all involve spending time together, showing appreciation for each other and just slowing down and enjoying what we have. It doesn’t matter if they don’t all happen on Christmas Day – it’s just a day, what is important is that we put our family first and focus on OUR traditions. What traditions do you have or do you want to start? I would love to hear your Christmas stories.