Monday, November 22, 2010

In With the New! In With the Old?

The holidays are quickly approaching and I've been in the Christmas spirit for a few weeks now.  The Christmas season is my favourite holiday.  I love the hustle and bustle; the sights, sounds and scents and I love watching the faces of my children light with wonder as they take it all in.

For me, the Christmas season is laced with traditions.  Some I have brought from my own childhood.  Some have been brought from Trevor's childhood and some we have created new to our family.

I think it's important to have family traditions.  It's those memories you create in your traditions that your kids will take with them when they move out and start families of their own.

Growing up, the start of the Christmas season was always marked by the Toronto Santa Claus parade.  As a child, and even into my adult years, there were very few years that we missed going to the parade in person.  We braved bad weather, year after year, to welcome Santa and the holiday festivities.  On those rare occasions we didn't make it to the parade, we would stay home and watch the parade on television while enjoying the Festive Special from Swiss Chalet.  I looked forward to that Toblerone bar at the end of my meal (and was really disappointed when they switched to Lindt chocolates)!
The Toronto parade was also the day that our outdoor Christmas decorations would go up and lights be turned on.

Now, with my own family I've kept these traditions alive.  Our outdoor lights and decorations get put up and turned on the day of the parade and we take the twins downtown to see Santa's arrival.  We have sadly missed the past two years, as Pickle has been too little to take out in the cold for that length of time.  But, I have followed in my parents' footsteps and we have watched the parade on t.v. with our Swiss Chalet dinners!  I am looking forward to the 2011 parade already as Pickle will be old enough to withstand the cold and I have every intention of taking the three kids!  I can't wait to see the look on her face when she see the parade live for the first time.

Old traditions are great; but, new ones that you create with your own family can be equally as wonderful.  One such tradition that we've started with the twins is building mini "gingerbread" houses.  Only, we don't use gingerbread, we use graham crackers and melted white chocolate!

The kids can each make their own, decorated anyway they like and they can eat it afterward!  It's the perfect snowy (or rainy) afternoon activity and one the kids look forward to.

We've also started the tradition of making an ornament for the tree each year.  Last year, we made these adorable snowman ornaments.  We gave them as gifts to the aunts, uncles, grandparents and even to the twins' teachers.

They're super easy to make and everyone that received one LOVED them.  Purchase any coloured ball that you like.  Get some non-toxic acrylic white paint and a foam brush and coat one hand with the paint.  Carefully roll the painted hand onto the ball.  I found that if I started at the palm and rolled toward the fingers, the kids were less likely to wiggle their fingers and smudge them.  Let the paint dry, then using Sharpie markers, draw on your hats, faces, and accessories.  Pickle was too little last year to do the handprint, at only two months old, so we did hers using her footprint on smaller balls.  It worked very well.

We included the following blurb with each ornament we gifted:

 "These aren't just 5 snowmen, as anyone can see... I made them with my hand, which is a part of me.  Now every year at Christmastime, when you deck your halls, you can look back and remember Christmas (year), when I was just this small!  Merry Christmas!"

So whether sharing traditions passed down from generations past, or building new ones; make the most of your holidays.  Show your kids that Christmas isn't about consumerism or about getting gifts; show them it's about so much more:  love, goodwill, compassion and family! 

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