10 Christmas Traditions That Get Better Every Year

santaAt our house Christmas is about singing loudly to cheesy holiday songs. It’s about eating lots and lots of comfort foods with your favorite people. It’s about spending slow and uncalculated time together for the simple pleasure of company. Christmas comes to our house in the form of small traditions that we giddily look forward to every year. Here are my 10 favorite!

List Hussy

Years ago when my husband and I bought our house, my annual holiday checklist looked something like this: Wine? Check. Beer? Check. Eggnog & Rum? Check. Fast forward several years plus two children and my list has evolved into a three-page long organizers wet dream. I have lists for decorations and gifts, sugary treats and cheesy music compilations. For the love of God, I have a master list that just tracks all my other lists. Crossing something off a list feels like a small win in the race toward Christmas. By the time the big day arrives there are usually a dozen or so items that remain unchecked. Every year these unchecked items alternate between categories, but no matter. The whole point is to have fun while preparing for the holiday. These silly lists are the fuel that keeps my holiday spirit burning bright. And when that runs out, I’ve got rum.

The Santa Sack

In an attempt to teach my son a lesson in charity I started a game called The Santa Sack. I decorated a pillowcase and gave it to my boy and told him to go through his toys and pick out only toys that are not broken and that he no longer plays with. His job is to fill the sack to the top and then a few days before Christmas he places it under the Christmas tree. When he wakes up the next day it is gone. He thinks that Santa sends and elf to our house to pick up the sack of gently used toys to be polished up and given to kids who otherwise might not get a Christmas. It’s a fun holiday game and my son really gets into it. The Santa Sack game helps my son to think about other people instead of obsessing over his Christmas Wish List.

Staying Home

Before we were mortgaged with children, my husband and I would go visiting friends and family on Christmas. We did not spend it at home…there just wasn’t time. But now that we have small people running the show it feels more appropriate to have folks come and visit us. We hang out in our cozy pajamas and put out a spread of holiday foods and then spend the day being lazy together. Sometimes we watch movies all day. Sometimes we go outside and walk through our woods. It depends on the collective degree of laziness that we want to engage in.

A Grazing Feast

Since Christmas for us is all about family and food and love we spend the day eating our absolute favorite foods. Forget Thanksgiving, Christmas is the real feast around these parts. My husband makes the world’s best bagels and Éclairs, and I make a roast and pies. This year we will add mimosas and eggs benedict to the holiday mix. Yum!

Limited Gifts

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no Scrooge, but I’m also not crazy about the idea of my children getting all Christmas greedy either. For us the emphasis is on family. We celebrate this by being together and enjoying cooking and eating, sharing stories, and laughter. We do not celebrate each other by spending money. It just doesn’t jive with our hippy-dippy lifestyle. So we put a cap on the number of gifts we give and the amount we spend. Each child gets three gifts from us and one from Santa plus a stocking, which is usually filled nuts and chocolate, a small toy and of course a giant orange. My husband and I tend to make at least one of the toys we give to our kids. This year we agreed to give each other the gift of finished projects that get neglected through the year.

Socks and Underwear

Every single year someone gets someone else a box of socks and underwear. Somehow as a mom this job falls to me. I don’t get it. It must be written in the fine print of the Mom Contract somewhere that feet and arses be covered in new threads during the holiday season. It has become a bit of joke at our house. I’ve even started buying funny themed underwear. Superhero’s and lobster claws. You’ll never guess who gets which!

Cheesy Christmas Songs

It is not Christmas until I sing a drunken version of some stupid holiday hit. It’s usually a Rat Pack rendition of Jingle Bells or Here Comes Santa Claus. Can you picture a whole family wearing pajamas and dancing and singing up a storm? Well, that’s us.

Drunken Christmas Eve Wrapping Contest

My mom did this when I was a kid and now it’s my turn. Every Christmas Eve my husband and I sit up late and get drunk while putting batteries in toys and wrapping gifts for everyone in our family. It’s a silly and ridiculous tradition, but one that is fun and necessary to survive the holiday brouhaha.

Mom-ing It Up With Weepy-Eyed Emotional Responses

My husband built my son a beautiful wooden slide a few years ago. When my boy saw it he nearly cried, he was so happy. I did cry. Hot tears streaming down my face. Partly because I was proud that I married a man caring and talented enough to build such a beautiful things for our child and partly because I had never seen that much joy on my child’s face. I Mom up the holidays with tears. It is sort of my thing. I’m sure I’m not the only mom on the block who does this.

© Sarah Cottrell and www.sarahcottrell.wordpress.com and Housewife Plus, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah Cottrell and www.sarahcottrell.wordpress.com and Housewife Plus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.