With Christmas only 4 weeks away I thought it would be great to start a December article with a little festive fun to get you in the mood. Looking back on some of the Christmas seasons that have passed, I can remember feeling very festive some years and other years not feeling it at all. I got to thinking, what is Christmas and the holidays supposed to feel like? One thing for sure, it is not something literally in the air that we just catch, and we are not simply going to wake up on Christmas morning feeling like it is Christmas. I have learned when it comes to holidays and special occasions; we get out of it what we put in. Instead of waiting for The Day to come, we can make each day a joyous one. The little efforts we take to make it fun and memorable really pay off, and why not enjoy the last month of the year building fond memories?
For my family Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” I have made it my mission to make it special. This year we purchased our first Christmas tree (the previous years were spent with our extended family). It was pretty exciting. The anticipation of getting a tree, thinking of where we will put it and then going out to get one was a lot of fun. Now I sit here typing, listening to Christmas music, and taking in the fresh scent of our pine tree. Tomorrow we get to decorate the tree as a fun family activity.
I take great pleasure in creating new traditions to carry on throughout the years, while continuing to follow older ones. During my first year of being married I started baking Christmas cookies, I remember feeling so domesticated taking out my little collection of Christmas cookie cutters, and trying out different recipes. Once the cookies started to cook, the aroma of fresh homemade cookies baking in the oven created such a warm atmosphere in our home, I became hooked. I decided to bake cookies for everyone I knew. Since then baking Christmas cookies has become a yearly tradition. The kids get involved and we invite our neighbors to join in.
Older traditions include listening to Christmas carols and Parang music, a mix of music from Trinidad with African and Spanish, Venezuelan, roots. Traditionally people would play Parang music and go from house to house eating and drinking and celebrating the season playing musical instruments. Now we play music at home, to create that festive feeling. Other ways we celebrate is by going out to different festivals, plays, or parades, and incorporating Christmas story or movie nights. We also have art and craft days where we make cards and gifts for our loved ones.
Traditions we have recently adopted include picking out or making an ornament, secret Santa, and having Santa’s Elves deliver special surprises as we count down to Christmas. With the purchase of our first tree I thought it would be pretty neat to have the kids pick out or make a special ornament that we can collect and put on the tree each year. This year we also decided to draw names from a hat and be a secret Santa for one special person. We have a large family so trying to purchase something for everyone can be overwhelming (however homemade gifts can be given freely, as well as gifts for the kids). And while we anticipate the coming of Christmas Eve the kids can look forward to finding notes, sticker, cookies, or little presents from Santa’s Elves.
Cooking and enjoying a nice family dinner is a big part of celebrating. On Christmas Eve along with our customary turkey meal, we like to include other Christmas foods such as Pastels and fruit cake (from Trinidad). On Christmas morning we enjoy drinks like sorrel, apple cider, hot chocolate, or eggnog lattes and open presents in our Christmas pajamas (great for taking pictures). Then we have a huge brunch. I found a recipe for Eggnog French Toast with bananas that I will be trying out this year.
Depending on where you come from, your background, or faith, you may celebrate a little differently, but the one common theme I think we all share is that this season is a time of giving thanks, a time for celebrating, and a time for family.
How do you celebrate Christmas? Do you have special family traditions that you would like to share? I would love to hear!