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Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year and always has been.  This is not because of all of the shopping I have to do, or all of the celebrations we could possibly attend.  It's because of the memories we make as a family.  I can think of no other time during the year that's filled with so many fabulous traditions in our house.

For our daughter Princess, the holiday season is very difficult.  It is filled with very painful traumatic memories and PTSD episodes.  Our family Christmas traditions help to heal her heart.  They bring comfort to her, knowing that they are specific to our family.  They are filled with joy, happiness, and most importantly, safety.

Each year we continue our traditions, she becomes a little bit better during the holiday season. For this I am thankful.
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Here are our family Christmas traditions.

Christmas Dates with Mommy

Each year, I take the kiddos out individually to do their Christmas shopping.  They are each given money to buy gifts for their siblings, Mommy, Daddy and grandparents.  

The kiddos get so excited about these dates.  Prior to their special day they ask siblings for ideas.  When they're unsure what to give Mommy or Daddy, they ask about our interests.  The process is so precious to watch.  We use our Christmas shopping planner flip books to help stay organized and on top of things.

Christmas shopping dates with Mommy take place early in the holiday season to avoid the crowds and chaos of holiday shopping.

Christmas Ornaments

On Christmas Eve, after the kiddos have changed into their pajamas and brushed their teeth, we gather around the Christmas tree and open one special gift. It's our new ornament for the Christmas tree.  The ornament each child is given represents a passion, hobby, or interest from the year.  In a way, this is how I document the kiddos' growth.

Decorating the tree each Christmas season is quite emotional because of all of the memories attached to each ornament.  My husband and I also purchase an ornament for each other that we open at the same time as the kiddos.  I must say, he is fabulous at finding me the perfect ornament.

Only ornaments attached to memories hang on our tree.  Starting on our honeymoon, Jason and I have purchased an ornament for every vacation we've ever been on together.  As our family has grown, we've continued to do this.  Each place we visit, I pick one up.   Each year we add new ornaments to the tree and reflect back on the memories we have made as family.

Christmas Movie Countdown

On our first Christmas Eve together, Jason insisted that we had to watch a Christmas movie.  One of his favorite traditions from growing up, was counting down the days until Christmas with movies.   Each year Jason and I purchase a new Christmas movie and add it to our countdown collection.

After the kiddos go to bed, we cuddle on the couch, admiring the Christmas tree lights, and watch one each night, finishing with our favorite on Christmas night.

We've also created a children's Christmas movie countdown for the kids.  They love getting a new Christmas movie each year. 

The Story of the Nutcracker

I have always loved the story of the nutcracker.  When in college I always tried to make a point to go and see the ballet.  As I started my own family, I knew I wanted to make the story a special part of our holiday.

Each year we dedicate a week of learning time to the study of the story of the nutcracker and the music from the ballet.  Those who are old enough and would like to go, also attend the Nutcracker Ballet.

Due to Princess' trauma and PTSD related issues at Christmas, the story of the nutcracker has replaced the celebration of Santa in our house.  Christmas wouldn't be the same without the story of the nutcracker!

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Great literature has definitely become a huge part of our holiday traditions.  An Eddy Family Christmas wouldn't be the same without reading A Christmas Carol.  The version of the book varies, depending on the ages of the kiddos at the time, but the story is still the same.

When finished reading the story, I love to go to a nearby town where they have a Dickens Christmas.  People, dressed in character, are roaming the streets visiting and mingling. They play their parts well, with accents and all.

There are quartets of musical instruments playing Christmas Carols on almost every corner.  Carolers are everywhere.  Horse drawn wagon rides are free. All of the local shops are open filled with the holiday aromas.

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Countdown

We have always tried to perform random acts of kindness at Christmas time, but doing the countdown was new last year.  It was a HUGE hit and was one of the very first things the kiddos mentioned doing this year.  For more information about our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, click HERE.

Christmas for the Animals

Close to Christmas, we gather with grandparents at their home for dinner, and then bundle everyone up and head into the forest at night.  All of us are carrying bags and boxes full of special items.  Once we find the perfect tree, we decorate it with edible items for all of the animals in the forest, we've prepared.

Before heading back inside, we gather around. If the weather isn't too cold and/or windy we build a bonfire and sing Christmas Carols.  After carols we head inside for hot cocoa and desserts.  This tradition was inspired by the children's book, Night Tree by Eve Bunting.

The Nighttime Holiday Parade

A few days after Thanksgiving, our city hosts a Nighttime Holiday Parade.  All of the floats are decorated in lights.  The kiddos love going to parades.  Since it's a guaranteed successful event, we invite friends and extended family to join us.  After the parade we head back to our home for hot cocoa, hot apple cider, and desserts.  It's such a great kick off to the holiday season.

Happy Holidays to our Neighbors

When Jason and I were first married, I listened to a woman speak about a family tradition they had.  Each Christmas season they would bake treats for ALL of their neighbors.  No matter who they were, or how scary they may be, their family would go together and deliver these treats.

The woman talked of the relationships and friendships formed as a result of this simple act.  I knew I wanted to do the same with my family.  So, year after year, we've done this. When we couldn't make treats, I would bake loaves of bread or give simple Christmas ornaments.

The kiddos joined in from the minute they were born and look forward to it every year.  I can honestly say, the tradition has worked miracles for us in our neighborhood.  It's not the greatest one in town.  Friendships have been made and we're always greeted with a smile on the street.

Holiday Wish lists

The first Christmas after Bulldozer's adhesive allergy was discovered was rough.  Not only was the act of unwrapping gifts life threatening for him, but the toys themselves posed a threat to his health.  So many toys have stickers on them.  If there weren't stickers, then the toy packaging was dangerous.

After many tears of frustration, I came up with a bunch of ideas that would help Bulldozer be safe during the holidays.  One of those ideas was putting together a holiday wish list for each of the kiddos for grandparents and others interested in giving gifts..

The wish lists include toys and other items the kiddos want, ones that are safe to have in our home with Bulldozer's crazy adhesive allergy and now other special needs.  Extended family members embrace these lists and can't wait to receive them.  They have helped so much when accommodating sensory needs, autistic tendencies and so much more.

The master list is kept on the blog.  Each item is linked to where the gift can be purchased.  As items are purchased, I mark them off on the blog, so everyone can see what's left.  It's quick and easy.

Now that the kiddos are older, they make their own lists.  The lists are updated on a regular basis and used for birthdays too.  Now that the kiddos make their own lists, I also find them extremely helpful when I shop!

Giving the Gift of Christmas to a Family in Need

Each year we've been able, we have selected a family in need to shop for at Christmas time.  We purchase gifts for each family member, include treats and other items.  On Christmas Eve Night, we dress in black, deliver the packages on the family's doorstep, and run to hide before anyone sees us.  We have been "caught" only once, but the family chose to play along and accept the gifts.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Our family has made the decision to stay at home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  All extended family functions occur before or after those days.  Christmas Eve day the kiddos and I spend our time preparing our Christmas Eve Dinner.  If Jason doesn't have to work, he joins us.

Our big holiday dinner with dessert is served that night, followed by the exchanging of sibling gifts, ornaments, and our Christmas delivery to a family in need.  Jason and I clean up the kitchen as we wait for the kiddos to fall asleep, and then get everything ready for Christmas morning.

On Christmas day, I don't cook or bake at all.  Instead we all spend the day relaxing, playing, eating left overs and finger foods.  This has been the best tradition yet, as it takes all of the stress out of Christmas Day!

Each year it seems we add more traditions to our Christmas celebration.  They seem to keep the kids grounded and help them know what to expect during a time of year that can be very anxiety ridden and chaotic.

What are your Christmas traditions? I'd love to hear about them!  

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