No matter how long you've read my blog, you probably know that we take our Christmas traditions seriously around here.
Growing up, my parents had several Christmas traditions that us Lowes did every single year (all while listening to the Carpenter's Christmas album). So, when Andrew and I got married, we made a really conscious effort to start our own traditions (while still incorporating some of the old), and 11 Christmases later, we have really fine tuned this time of year.
Some of our traditions cost money, some don't...some are big, some are small...some take a lot of time, some take just a minute...but they're all so special to us. These are things we do as a family that put us into the Christmas spirit, these are the things we talk about the other 11 months of the year, these are the things that I will remember when I'm old and grey.
Our carriage ride tradition began when Kensington was two and Smith was 11 months old. Our little town square offers reservations for this one hour ride that takes guests through the historic portion of our city. Now, four years later, we know all of the horses' names and talk about them and the driver/owner Miss Shannon all year long.
Watching Christmas Movies
This tradition comes from my parents. We are Christmas movie watching fools! Usually the week before Thanksgiving we begin watching and we try to watch one every night (during the week, we usually take two nights to watch one). Now that my kids are older, they love watching them too!
You can find my post on Christmas movies here. My very favorite is The Holiday (hello, Jude Law!) but with my kids, we like to watch the classics like Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown...plus, now my kids are into White Christmas (they love the singing and dancing!), Home Alone, A Christmas Story and then there are so many great ones that come on ABC Family.
We pop some popcorn, curl up with our favorite blankets and watch a movie together. Such a fun way to spend an evening!
Our Elf on the Shelf comes out for fun
Last year, I documented all of the funny things our elf did and you can see that here.
We have brought this little elf out the last three years and it's become something my kiddos always look forward to (by day 4, I'm always tired of moving it and thinking of clever places to put it).
Sitting in Santa's Lap
We started this tradition with 12 week old Kensington back in 2008. We have visited the same Santa at the Dallas Galleria every single year.
Hanging of the Green
Every year, we attend the Hanging of the Green ceremony at our church. It's really just a fun service where we sing a lot of carols and look at how beautifully decorated our church is. It's also the perfect opportunity to remember the real reason for this season...Jesus' birth.
Jammy Cocoa Christmas
This is a Lowe tradition that has now carried into my family...we put our pajamas on, go to Starbucks and get a drink (you must be wearing your pjs when entering Starbucks...blame my dad for that idea), listen to Christmas music and drive around looking at lights. I blogged about it last year here.
This is one of those silly traditions that I hope my grandchildren are doing too. This can be my dad's legacy right here :).
Every other year, our church offers a drive-thru nativity scene called Christmas Journey. You drive up, we tell you what station to put your car radio on or hand you a CD and then you drive through and watch the story of Christs' birth, life, death and resurrection unfold through around 15 scenes. It takes about 20 minutes to drive through and last year, almost 50,000 people came through. We were cast members last year and it was so cold and fun! This is a great tradition for us!
Other random things we do...
1. We like to drive to neighborhoods in our area with really big homes that are all decked out for the holidays and get out and walk the streets (verses driving). We get all bundled up and take it all in. If you're in the Dallas area, we like to walk around Highland Park. After we're done walking several blocks, we'll drive the rest.
2. We sleep in our Christmas flannel sheets this time of year. Whenever I put those on our beds, it makes me so happy!!
3. The town next to ours has a Christmas light display that flashes and dances to music. We always go and just walk the two little streets and listen to the music and watch the light display.
4. Whenever the Rockettes are in town with their Christmas Spectacular, we go! I've been once in New York City and three times in Dallas. That show never disappoints!
5. We shop for our angels off of the Angel Tree. This is a special time when we select a local family from the Angel Tree and shop for them. I love doing this with my kids. I also love doing Operation Christmas Child and filling shoe boxes with little treats and toys for kids to receive as their Christmas gifts.
6. Drive to North Park Mall (a mall in Dallas) and look at the pretty window displays and beautiful decorations. Just stroll and look (and maybe finish up a little shopping).
I think my parents taught me when I was younger that you really just have to make an effort this time of year to celebrate a little every day. Growing up, my parents would say we had to do one thing Christmasy (their word) each day. Even if that's just listening to Christmas music (of course, the Carpenter's album) while eating our dinner or having a candy cane for dessert...something that keeps us in the Christmas spirit.
I would love to know what some of your traditions are!! Please comment and let me know what you and your family do this time of year!
And on the foodie blog...it's Meal Planning Monday Thanksgiving Week Edition...you know, for when you're tired of eating turkey.