Here are some simple ways how to create your own Christmas tradition this year and HOW we surprised our kids this week. I know this post will be stepping on the toes of a few who hold traditions in the most sacred of shrines. But after much reflection the last few years, we decided 2020 was the year we needed to make our own traditions more meaningful. So this week, we gave our kids an unforgettable memory. It was something Yve and I had talked about for years, and for some reason 2020 gave us the guts to try it out!
The Christmas Surprise
It had been weeks that I had all of our presents sitting in piles in our room. There were of course our ‘traditional’ gifts for our children from us, sticking to our minimalist mindset. But there were also a swarm of other presents that were sent from family, stacked in neat piles against our bedroom wall.
Every morning I woke up, I thought, “Why don’t we just do the presents early? There are weeks left before Christmas, and this year has been so long already.” But I often pushed the idea aside and went about my daily tasks of homeschooling and family life.
Then one evening, I told Yvan, “Let’s do it. Let’s re-decorate the tree [that the toddlers had completely disheveled] and give the kids an unforgettable memory.”
Now, obviously this would work for us because our kids, while they love the story of Santa, know that it is not factual. However, if you want to incorporate this tradition for this year, you could always say, “Santa had to deliver the presents early”.
A Priceless Reaction
My husband is always willing for something adventurous and fun.
I finished wrapping gifts while Yvan read to the kids and put them to sleep. Then we threw our favourite heirloom decorations all over the tree, piled up the presents, and several sweet hours into the kids sleep Yvan sneaked upstairs again. He woke up sleepy-eyed, bed-headed children and carried a couple toddlers downstairs.
I was waiting. The room was aglow with all the Christmas feels, including a “fake fireplace crackling with instrumental Christmas music” (Thank you YOUTUBE).
The expressions on their faces were delicious. It was so exciting to SURPRISE them with Christmas morning early and the chatter from them was explosive!
“Wait, it’s Christmas?!”
“Today is Christmas?! What!”.
“I can’t BELIEVE IT!!!” Screams went wildly swirling through our house.
The joy was absolutely tangible. Paper flying, gifts unravelled one by one and the sweetness of children on Christmas morning unexpectedly nestled with the caress of sleepy dreams awakened early.
But before we dug into the gifts, we made sure our kids understood that this moment WAS the ‘present’ time and that there would not be any more on Christmas morning. We gave them the choice and they had no inhibitions about breaking out of tradition.
You Can Watch Our “Christmas Morning” Here!
The Christmas Nightmare
One Christmas, when I was quite swollen with my fourth pregnancy, I thought it would be a good idea to have an “elaborate” Christmas. I planned out a meal with multiple courses, plenty of desserts and meat options, “potluck size”, but I would single handedly make it ALL.
The day began ridiculously early, with toddlers tearing through presents and Yvan watching everything while I continued the 24 hours of cooking. I did not have time to sit down and enjoy the moments because we had to stick to tradition. And tradition meant cinnamon buns, stocking and presents before the guests arrived.
Soon, family from both sides, began pouring in and the volume was intense. In and out of the oven I took things, like a frantic juggling zombie. People kept offering to help, and I insisted I could “handle it”, but thanks anyways. MORE kinds of Potatoes, more stuffing, glaze the Ham, season the Turkey, don’t burn the third dessert, “Is everyone having fun?”.
Picture taking sessions were in full swing as the kids ran wild, and I glued myself to that kitchen. I had already spent three days preparing and I was determined to finish strong. Insisting I did not need help, I would occasionally glance toward the camera for a ‘frazzled-mom’ photo.
I am not sure to this day why I was trying to prove to myself I could pull of a crazy Big Christmas all by myself, but it did not leave me desiring to do it again.
It also was a good lesson to me about CHOOSING your own traditions.
By the time everyone left it was past midnight and I collapsed in a heap of tears that in my attempts to make the BEST Christmas for my family I had missed it all.
Why We Changed Our Tradition
Maybe it’s just me. But I feel like there are other frazzled moms on Christmas morning, besides ME, doing ALL the things. Getting ripped out of sleep at 4am by anxious kiddos dying for presents, rushing downstairs to start the family brunch and traditional cinnamon buns, then cooking ALL day for family arriving (though sadly not this year).
There were so many Christmases I felt like I lost Christmas. Everything was such a blur, until I collapsed on the couch at 11:30 pm, with dishes done and kids all sound asleep again. All I could recall was the smell of happiness but it was an unclear image of ‘what just happened?’.
The Importance of Creating Your Own Traditions
Now, don’t get me wrong, I ALWAYS look forward to Christmas. And perhaps a part of the sacrifice of motherhood has always been a little of ‘missing’ Christmas. But I wanted to change that this year. I want to see more of CHRISTMAS and celebrate it the way our family longs. I want to etch our children’s faces in my memory more.
Tradition should be about what is important to your family and not necessarily keeping up the traditions of culture, without considering the cost on your family.
Yve and I decided, at least for this year, that our little homestead would stretch out the beauty of Christmas. We had our “presents” day. Our fancy “Christmas Dinner” will take place on the 24th instead of the 25th (allowing more time to process and digest the beauty of the season). And our cherished Christmas Day will centre around Christ, Christmas jammies, cinnamon buns, and stuffed stockings. Tradition is what YOU create it to be! (Stay tuned for what our stockings entail!).
Never be afraid to step outside a boundary life has drawn around you, if you outgrow its’ limitations.
What Our Kids Think
While I am usually pretty enthused to try some new tradition as a family, I am not always sure our kids will approve. I get that we don’t need ‘permission’ from the kids. But for certain family things, we care how attached they are with tradition. Though they are very adventurous and willing children, there are moments I am lacking confidence in the ideas we try. But in the end, I know we are simply trying our best to give them beautiful memories. The pricelessness lies in making those great moments last as long as we can.
And Believe it or not, we love including our kids in our decision making regarding tradition.
This year, was of course a surprise. But we still made sure it sounded good to them.
The cheers reassured us it was worth the ‘experiment’.
Try Something New
One reason we really wanted to try something new for our traditions this year, was also because 2020 has been wild. We figured…what better year to flip things upside down? At least it is us CHOOSING to do something new!
I encourage you to try something new this year as a family.
It does not have to be elaborate or something that shakes your sense of security. But even little special changes can make a huge difference in extending the joys of the season.
- Be brave. Even if your love your traditions, try something new this year. It might be the tradition that carries forward to future generations.
- Be Spontaneous. You may or may not be a spontaneous person, but the magic of the holidays is the best time to start!
- No regrets. If you really hate the new tradition you started, just ‘scrap it’ and start fresh next year. Consider it ‘living a little’ and move on.
- Check out Pinterest for more ideas!
Here are Some Simple Ideas to Create Your Own Traditions This Christmas:
- Try having the Big Christmas Meal on a different day (or opting out of it altogether and ordering pizza ahead of time to reheat!).
- Also, you can do something other than ‘Open presents’ or stockings first thing for tradition sake. Maybe, go for a family walk instead. Light a candle and sing Christmas Carols. Start off the day with waffles and Hot cocoa. Change the “time” of the events.
- Change “Presents” day to the day after Christmas or Christmas Eve. If that sounds too extreme, try ‘stocking’ time the night before as a special surprise.
- Wake your kids up after they go to sleep and feed them Christmas chocolates while reading “The Night Before Christmas”.
- LET OTHERS HELP. I was ridiculous in my late stage of my fourth pregnancy, to take on so much. Just know it is better to accept help than BURN OUT.
- Choose to give LESS presents and MORE time together.
- Get out some paper plates this once, or leave the dishes for the next day if you really cannot stand the waste. Try to alleviate some of the usual “busywork: and make that time to sit and watch the lights and the fire glow.
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What are Your Favourite Traditions?
We would LOVE to hear what your favourite family traditions are! Drop a comment below! Or you can leave us feedback on our Instagram Post, Facebook Page or Youtube Video on what you love to include in your family traditions.
Some of the Gifts Our Kids LOVE that they received from us and other family. If you purchase from one of the links below, our family may make a tiny commission at zero extra cost to you. (See our full policy and disclosure HERE)
- Lego Friends Hot Air Ballon Animal Rescue (This was gifted to our seven year old daughter).
- This Lego Spiderman Venomous Ambush was something that was gifted to our son ( Our nine year old son loves legos and Spiderman)!
- Lego Technic Compact Crawler (Our 11 year Old was CRAZY about this gift from us! He loves anything involving engineering and models).
- Here is a Paw Patrol Ride-on toy similar to the one that was given to our 20 month old. It is by far his new favourite toy!
- These Paw patrol compact metal vehicles were a HUGE hit! They pair perfectly with the True Metal Adventure Lookout tower, both gifted to our children.