We all have Christmas traditions of one sort or another. My family seems to be very tradition oriented. So here are a few of ours...
Advent - we celebrate Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. We have an advent wreath that AnnLaura made when she was really little. It's all made of pinecones and acorns and lots of glue! After dinner, the candle for the week is lit and we have a song we sing that Mary Lu Walker wrote. There's a verse for each week plus a verse for Christmas day. We also get little presents sometimes on Sundays. I suppose that stems more from Hanukkah more than advent, but none the less it adds to the tradition!
Angel Chimes - after we light the advent candles and sing, we light a set of angel chimes and sit in silence for a bit and watch and listen. Aurelio really likes this part already!
Christmas Carols - after the advent song and after the angel chimes we sit at the dinner table and sing Christmas carols. We go in a circle and each person picks a song and we all sing. John always picks Jingle Bells. AnnLaura and I usually are silly during the glorias for Angels We Have Heard on High. I like Up on the House Top and Mom always ends up making us sing Oh Jesus is Our Chirstmas Tree. That song is best when company is around, because they are pretty surprised by the song and we can't really get through it without laughing so hard we cry! It's a lovely song...really lovely.
Recording Christmas - We don't do this anymore, but I still remember it as a tradition. We never had a video recorder, but mom used to always tape record the time when we were opening presents. Now that I think about it, I wonder where all those tapes are. It might be kind of fun to listen to them!
Christmas stockings - I LOVE the Christmas stockings. This one has changed a little over the years. We all give each other little stocking stuffers in addition to under the tree gifts. When I was little I remember opening stockings on Christmas eve and then on Christmas morning we would find that Santa had filled them again in the night! Very exciting! Now we open stockings with Christmas breakfast...after we open the presents under the tree.
Waiting - used to be that we had to wait for AnnLaura to get here from Chicago. It took a long time for me and Martin to realize that there was basically no way she could get here by 9 in the morning like we wanted her to! Now that we're all living here there and elsewhere we still end up waiting for someone.
Mom's Pepsi - Every year we all get settled in. Mom is usually the last one in the room when the rest of us are ready to rip open the presents. Once the first person is about to start opening a present...oops! Mom forgot her Pepsi. One of us has to go get it for her. We all mope and groan like it's the worst thing in the world, but secretly I think we kind of like it.
Present wrapping - I kind of already mentioned this, but I wrap the presents for mom every year and have for probably 10 years. I love wrapping presents, but AnnLaura traditionally has the best wrapping paper. I don't know if it's because she lives in cool places or because she has an eye for the cool paper or what, but her presents always look spectacular! Martin does not make the wrapping effort, but he does gift bags. Or sometimes gift bag. One year he would put a present in the gift bag, give it to the person to open and then ask for the bag back and put the next present in it. Last year the presents were wrapped though and I'm going to guess that was Annie's influence!
The last gift(s) - Martin hoards gifts while everyone else is unwrapping. So when we're all done....wait...Martin still has 5 things to unwrap! He's always been a bit of a rascal! Wouldn't be Christmas without it though!
Shopping - The day after Christmas we go to the mall and anywhere else to try to get good deals. It started because one year we had more presents to return than usual. Now we go every year whether we have presents to return or not! John usually gives us a Visa gift card and we spend that. It's really just loads of fun.
Nutcracker - I was in ballet from 3rd grade till sometime in college and every year the Nutcracker is the first weekend in January after New Years. This is usually is around the 12th day of Christmas. Of course I'm not in it anymore, but Mom is! She's the Grandmama in the party scene and steals the show every year!
Twelfth Night - I guess we like to celebrate as long as possible! So on the 12th day of Christmas we have little presents after dinner. Just little things. Like stocking stuffer type presents. I like it that we have one last hurrah before we move on to Valentine's day!