Christmas is not my favorite holiday as holidays go, but I love the whole holiday season, from about a week before Thanksgiving until the New Year. My kids all loved Santa growing up, as most kids do. But we always tried to emphasize throughout the holiday season what Christmas is really all about. This picture above is one of my favorite Christmas pictures because it really does emphasize who Christmas is all about, Jesus Christ, and that they can coexist, Jesus and Santa.

We have a few holiday traditions that I love this time of year. The first one deals with focusing on Jesus. A friend made us a wood manger and gave us a little doll wrapped in swaddling clothes. When she first gave it to us, she gave us straw separately that the kids were to add a piece every time they did something nice for someone else. We get pretty busy this time of year, so we don’t add the straw one piece at a time anymore. But I do set up the manger at the beginning of December and it sits in our living room all season long as a little reminder of who we should be focusing on throughout the month, and hopefully coming year. I love this little reminder every time I walk in my living room. I don’t know if my kids even notice it anymore, but it helps me remember.

We always go and get a real Christmas tree. This is one of those things that isn’t necessarily my favorite thing, it if was up to me we would just get an artificial tree, so I didn’t have to worry about watering it, all the pine needles on the floor, and the bareness of the branches and trunk. Some years we drill in extra branches to try and fill out the tree, other years it’s just a perfectly imperfect tree. But my kids love going and picking one out. We have a friend who has a large open area that grows pretty full trees, so the last few years we’ve gone to his house and cut one down. It’s almost always in the dark, so we tend to guess as to whether it actually looks good or not, but we get it done and the kids are happy. Even though it’s not my favorite tradition, I love that it makes my kids happy, consequently I have never bought a fake tree, and probably won’t until all the kids are gone.

I make a lot of hot chocolate during the holidays. This one does seem to carry over into January and February as it’s still cold and hot chocolate is good. But I have a recipe that I’ve used for years that is my kid’s favorite hot chocolate. My daughter who just returned from her mission even asked for this recipe so she would have it during the holidays. Maybe one of these days I’ll share it here. During the Christmas season we like to add candy canes to the hot chocolate. We don’t do this any other time of year, even in January and February. I used to buy candy canes to decorate the tree, but now they’re just for the hot chocolate.

I don’t know if I’m just getting older or just tired, but I don’t enjoy decorating too much for any holiday. But my kids enjoy decorating for Christmas. They do all the tree decorations, and I have a few things to put around the house that we’ve collected over the years. They love getting the Christmas boxes out and finding all the beloved treasures from Christmas that we’ve collected over the years. I love that they do most of the set up, and as they have gotten older, they also help with a lot of the cleanup. This has made it so much more enjoyable to have the house decorated every year and it brings a fun holiday spirit to our home.

Every year we have a Christmas Eve party. It started when our house was being built and we just had insulation in the walls and the fireplace to warm the area. We invited family and a couple neighbors who didn’t have any family close by. It has grown over the years to include many more people without family nearby to celebrate with. We have become family and I love it. This is actually my favorite part of the holiday season and I tend to focus on this particular event more than any other part of Christmas. I love the associations with others, some who we don’t see very much any other time. I love the people who have become family over all these years.

I love Christmas traditions, and I love that they make the season enjoyable for our whole family. I love this time of year! If you have Christmas traditions that you have enjoyed over the years, I would love to hear what they are, maybe we can add some new ones to our list!

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