|A Mimosa Toast on Christmas Morning|
Gifts under the Tree Early with Code Names
This was a great tradition once my children no longer "believed." In December as I purchased gifts for the kids, I would wrap them and put them under the Christmas tree. But I had code names for each child. So the name tags, instead of reading Dominic or Daniel or Lara would read Dasher or Dancer or Comet. The kids would pick up the gifts and shake them and examine the sizes and try to figure out which name identified their gifts. Every year the code changed.... always a trio of some sort like Michael, Gabriel and Raphael ... or Snoopy, Linus and Charlie.
This tradition built great anticipation, and made it so fun for the kids. Plus, I could wrap as the gifts were purchased and didn't have to keep them hidden somewhere. Christmas morning I'd break the codes and say, "Dominic - you are Dasher. Lara, you are Dancer. Daniel, you are Comet."
No Baby Jesus in the Manger Until Christmas Eve - Youngest Puts Them in Place
|Baby Jesus is Places in the Manger by the Youngest Child|
Perhaps it was a Spanish thing, but in my home growing up as well as in my grandparents' house the nativity set would come out with the Christmas decorations but baby Jesus was never in his manger until Christmas Eve. The empty manger was a reminder that Jesus was coming (but wasn't here yet). Then on Christmas Eve, just before going to bed, that the youngest child in the family placed the Baby Jesus in his manger. This tradition created anticipation and excitement during Advent, and made the youngest child feel special. It was also a reminder of what Christmas was all about.
FUNNY: I have nearly a dozen Nativity sets. One year I forgot where I put all the Baby Jesuses. The mangers didn't got filled that year and Lara (our youngest) was outraged! I found all of them later that year when I was cleaning out a drawer in the dining room.
Eat off of Christmas Dishes - All 12 Days
|Spode Christmas Tree Dishes|
Starting December 24th and continuing through the Epiphany (Jan 6th), we use Christmas dishes for our family meals, entertaining, snacks and even the morning coffee. In the early years, I had plastic, mismatched plates. I started collecting Spode Christmas Tree china in my 30s and now I have a complete set. Sometimes guests are hesitant to use the Spode fearing they will break a piece. I always tell them that get great joy from using these dishes and that I expect some will get broken over time. We don't worry about breakage.
It doesn't matter what kind of Christmas dishes a family has or how expensive they are. Using them is fun. They are a memorable accent to the special foods we have at Christmas, and they are tool of celebration - just like party hats and candles on a birthday cake.
Strada for Christmas Breakfast
|Italian Strada for Christmas Breakfast|
2 lbs ground pork sausage (browned & drained)
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 cu shredded cheddar cheese
5 slices white bread cubed
Mix up the eggs, mustard and salt with an electric mixer - just until mixed pretty well. Lay the bread in a layer across a 9X13 inch pan Sprinkle sausage over the bread. Pour egg mixture over that. Put cheese on the top. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving.
Mimosas - Another part of the Christmas Breakfast tradition for us is Mimosas (Orange juice mixed with Champagne) to complement the Strada - adults only, of course.
The Christmas Walk
|Part of my family walking our neighborhood on Christmas Morning|
As simple as this sounds, it's become a nice tradition for our family. After breakfast and presents, we go for a walk - all of us - adults and children and dogs. Most times it's around the neighborhood, some times we drive to a park or wildlife refuge. It's a time to relax, get fresh air and all be together in the Christmas outdoor landscape. We live in a pretty temperate climate, but we'd do this whether it was cold and snowy or sunny and mild. This is also a great photo op.
For our family, these traditions frame our Christmas memories and give us some continuity. The traditions are what we remember about Christmas years later.