The first thing we did was make gingerbread houses. This is not something we do every year... as a matter of fact, I can't remember the last time I made one, but I have friends and relatives that do this every year and I thought, why not? The month was young... I had lots of time... (ha! I was also delusional at the beginning of the month!) The experience didn't turn out exactly the way I thought... we actually made each one at separate times, but the end result was pretty fun. The kids were excited with their individual houses and I loved that we all kind of did something together.
The next tradition was travelling to SLC to watch Buttercup sing with her school choir on Temple Square. The added bonuses were hanging out with Red, riding the train through the city and experiencing the beautiful lights and displays that the church puts together each and every year. We chose this location as the place for our last "monthly family picture." YES!!! I was able to get a family picture every month during 2009!! (Will I keep it going in 2010? Stay tuned to find out!)
It's definitely NOT a tradition, but Max and I LOVED going to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas Concert. If I knew I could make this a yearly tradition, you can bet your sweet bippy that we will. Alas, if I only knew how to request tickets.... (remember, it was Buttercup that got us the tickets via her request for her choir.)
Another non-tradition that could turn into a great yearly event is a party with my Primary class. I promised my kids (age 7) that if they filled the jar with beads by singing well in Sharing Time, participating in class and sitting reverently and quietly that we would have a pizza slash rootbeer float party. Obviously they did exactly what they were supposed to do! We had a fabulous time, playing Christmas games and gorging ourselves on unhealthy party food. You can see that we got a little goofy too!
Sadly, our tradition of going to Buttercup's school choir's Christmas concert has ended. Since she is a senior, and graduating (we hope) we won't have this opportunity again for about 8 years... that is if Inigo decides to sing in choir. We went out with a bang - literally - this year. As the first group was singing their first song, the power went out. The only light we had was from the emergency lights over the exits. The choir director decided to push on anyway by borrowing flashlights from members of the audience for the pianist and wearing his white shirt sleeves so the kids could see him. It was a unique, but fun, experience! (This picture is the choir concert! Even though you can't see a thing, I had to take a picture to remind us what the night was like!)
In my house, Christmas Eve is the big night with the fablous meal. I choose to take Christmas Day off from all work and that includes cooking (well... I still cook a nice breakfast. But my day off starts after that!) so I try to cook enough that we can munch on left-overs throughout the day. Our traditional C.E. meal has a wonderful menu of Prime Rib, fancy schmancy glazed carrots, a fablously prepared pan of potatoes (sometimes mashed with amazing gravy, -or-sometimes I make party potatoes a.k.a. Funeral potatoes. This year I chose the latter.) Of course, we fix cheesy beans (don't know 'em? Believe me when I say you wish you did!) and my Gramma Millie's strawberry/blueberry jello salad. We get out the fancy china dishes and the elegant silverware. Goblets are what we drink our Martinelli's in.
Of course, we want to share the night with family and good friends. We have my parents, Red, Shackie, Stinky and Little Miss DooLittle over. Each brings food to share... good food that is traditional C.E. fare for them.
This year we had to eat early because our family was in charge of lighting the yearly luminaries in our neighborhood. Jillwanna and her family are celebrating Christmas in Chile (where they aren't chilly), so we put their luminaries out and lit them, in addition to ours. PLUS the local hospital -- which occupies the other side of our road -- asked us if we would line their side of the street for them. The total amount we were asked to do was around 150. (Luminaries is a yearly tradition, however, we usually only light 30 for our house.) Since we had so many, we ate dinner early, and ran outside in 15* weather and set it up. We had so much help with everyone that we got the whole street done in about an hour! It was wonderful! And, believe it or not, FUN!
All three kids are currently in music lessons and two take from the same teacher. (Inigo takes piano lessons from me.) Our instructor doesn't have a Christmas recital, so I thought it would be fun for them to have a mini-recital with the Christmas music they have been learning. This is only the second year we have done this, but I think it was a hit! And I think we'll continue with it for as long as we can! (Buttercup isn't taking piano lessons, she's taking vocal lessons. But since I was accompanying her while she was performing, I couldn't take her picture. The picture of her is when she was playing for our Christmas sing-a-long....)
For me, Christmas isn't Christmas unless there is music playing. You can't have an appropriate Christmas Eve party without singing Christmas carols.... right? So we got out the hymn books and sang just about every Christmas song in them!
I know most families read the story of Christ's birth in Luke. We are no different. But that's not the only story we read!! We also read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We let a Dad (Max, Stinky or my dad) read the story out of the Bible and the kids get to take turns on who read the other stories. Buttercup has claimed Night Before Christmas as her own. You can see the little kids really enjoyed it!
The final event of Christmas Eve... after the guests have left... is the opening of one, JUST ONE, present. It is specially designated as THE CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT. Everyone knows what it is, but the kids are so excited they start asking about it two days before. YES, it's the traditional CHRISTMAS EVE PAJAMMIES!!!
This tradition almost didn't happen this year. My small heart made it extremely difficult to go out and find cute jammies, but with the support and help of Max, I got them bought and wrapped on Dec. 23. Whew. Just in the nick of time!
This is the first year Inigo was too excited to go to sleep. Usually he's so exhausted by the end of the night that he crashes the minute his head hits the pillow. I really wasn't sure when he fell asleep this year. I kept walking past his room and looking at him. I finally realized he was O.U.T. when I stopped and took this picture and he didn't blink. (One day he's going to be really mad at me for taking pictures of his open sleeping eyes!)
Christmas morning. This year I had to wake the kids up. Even after a healthy debate the night before about what time was an appropriate time to get up. (We decided on 7:30. But I got everyone up at 7:45. I should have let them sleep, eh?)
When we open gifts, we take turns -- youngest to oldest. That way we can all enjoy watching what each other gets. I like it that way.
(Inigo is extremely excited to open his new Michael Jackson 2010 calendar and Buttercup is thrilled with her new pink Snuggie.... and yes, I am admitting that I bought a Snuggie!)
The rest of the day is pretty basic. We lounge around for a while. Take a nap or two (or more if needed), watch the new DVD or play the new video game. Eventually we make our way south to Guilder to visit my parents and play some more games with them.
Oh... and don't forget about the FOOD. We are like the Who's in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas... on Christmas day all we did was, "EAT, EAT, EAT, EAT"!!! Again, with my small heart getting in the way, I didn't do as much Christmas baking as I normally do, but there was enough that, combined with the left-overs and the good food at my mom's house, you can bet that we will practically roll to the gym on Monday.
Those are some of our traditions. What about you? How was your Christmas? What are some of your traditions?