Our Non Commercial Christmas Traditions

“Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”  Dr. Seuss

I love Christmas!  I have always loved Christmas.  Experiencing it as a mother over the last eight years has added lots of magic to the season.  My kids are 8, 5 and 2 this year and at great ages to enjoy it.  Obviously a big part of the holiday for them is the excitement of the presents on Christmas morning.  I love seeing them receive gifts that make them smile and the fun of playing with new toys in the days following the big day.

Over the last few months we have tried to reevaluate the stuff we have.  We have been trying to rethink our lifestyle and move toward a philosophy of doing rather than buying.  We have a long way to go, but have made progress in spending less on things we don’t truly need and really thinking before we buy something that will clutter up our already cluttered lives.  While there will still be plenty of presents under the tree Christmas morning, I want to keep in mind all I love about Christmas that has nothing to do with what we buy.

I read this post by Family Trek and the following quote resonated with me,

“I also want to point out that our family Christmas traditions are not limited to what’s under the tree on Christmas morning. We have lots of traditions surrounding the holidays.”

We do too!  My husband and I decided long ago not to give each other gifts for Christmas (or birthdays or anniversaries).  We instead do something for ourselves or together to commemorate special occasions.  Christmas for me as an adult really is not about the gifts.  But I still love it as much as I did as a kid.  Here’s why.  We have lots of traditions that have nothing to do with buying stuff.  Here are our non commercial traditions:

1)  We sing!  I love Christmas music.  We listen to it at home and in the car, sing along, sing alone and sing together.  We have even attended free local Christmas Concerts at churches or schools to enjoy music with others.

2)  We read.  We have lots of Christmas books, some books that I have had since I was a kid, many that were given to my kids as gifts over the years and a few we have bought ourselves.

3)  We watch Christmas movies.  We turn on the Christmas lights, snuggle under cozy blankets in the living room and watch our favorite holiday shows together.

4)  We drive around to look at Christmas lights.  When I was a kid, my dad would bundle us up and pull us in a wagon around our neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights.  I have such clear, happy memories of it and want the same for my children.  Since we don’t have enough houses where we live to make a walk worthwhile, we drive around local neighborhoods.  Sometimes we sit outside a nearby house that has its lights set to music and let the kids unbuckle and sit in our laps.  We bring cookies and hot chocolate and make memories that will last a lifetime.

5)  We spend time with family and friends.  I have a large family and we spend extra time with them during the holidays.  It is also a time when I see people I don’t see as often as I would like, like my roommate from college.  We also connect with old friends and distant relatives through Christmas cards.  .

6)  We bake.  We make batch after batch of cookies during the holidays.  We keep some for ourselves and send others to loved ones both near and far.  The sugar cookies are the favorite and take the most time and energy to make.  There is mixing the dough, chilling, rolling, cutting, baking, icing and sprinkling.  My kids love to help in all aspects of making these cookies and I know the time we spend together doing this will be remembered by myself and them forever.

My 5 year old was asked to draw something about Christmas in school and he drew the the snowman sugar cookies we make.

My 5 year old was asked to draw something about Christmas in school and drew the snowman sugar cookies we make with sprinkles.

7)  We talk about why we celebrate Christmas.  We talk about how it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, who taught people to be kind and forgiving to everyone.

I would like to add a few things to our list in the coming years.

8)  This year we will have our first annual family Christmas sleepover.  The five of us are planning a sleepover in the living room by the Christmas tree.  I think this will be a cozy addition to our holiday traditions and something the kids will look forward to year after year.

9)  I would like to add helping others to our list as well.  I will be looking into some way we, as a family, can help families in need during the holidays.

10) We need to add nature to our list too.  As the weather gets colder, our love of the outdoors is often forgotten.  I would like to find more ways to celebrate the holidays outdoors.  We started this year with letting the kids outside in their Christmas pajamas at night to look at our own lights and get their picture taken.  I am thinking a hot chocolate and cookie picnic could be another fun tradition to start!

What are your non commercial traditions?  Do you have a long standing list or are you starting new ones this year?

Check out Family Trek’s post on this topic and check out posts by other families on the same topic by visiting the links at the bottom of the Family Trek post.

UPDATE:  I am excited to report that we completed those last three items on our list this year!  We had a family sleepover by the tree and even though it was cut short for myself and one kid who got sick around 2am, I think it was a great tradition to start and we will definitely do it again next year.  In order to help others, We went to our local homeless shelter’s website and checked the “needs list.”  We discovered sheets, blankets and water were in demand.  We went as a family to purchase these items and then dropped them off at the shelter.  And lastly, we had hot chocolate at the creek.  This one, we didn’t get to until after Christmas, but I think it is a great winter tradition anyway.  Looking forward to doing it all again next year!

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