Whether it’s baking Christmas cookies with your children or decorating the Christmas tree together while playing the family’s favorite Christmas album, the holiday season is full of sweet memories and traditions passed down from generation to generation. I cannot imagine a Christmas without helping my dad cut out festive shapes in cookie dough and assisting my mom frost hundreds and hundreds of cookies.
For the past three years, we lived in Florida while all of our family was in Texas. We longed to be with them celebrating each moment of the holiday season, but with my husband’s residency schedule, our trips home were quick and not often on the actual holiday. We missed baking those special Christmas cookies with my family and watching all the classic Christmas movies with my husband’s family.
As we were unable to participate in our favorite family holiday traditions, I decided that we need to create our own Christmas traditions. Now with two little boys, I am continually searching for opportunities for us to make lasting holiday memories and activities that we can repeat for years to come.
We are new to the Corpus Christi area so I have been in full-blown research mode to find holiday events while looking forward to spending Christmas with both families this year. While some of these activities are new to us this year, they are going in the books as new traditions for our family.
Tradition #1: The Advent Calendar and Acts of Love
My mother-in-law bought my eldest son an Advent calendar when he was one. I filled each pocket with a Bible verse, which we would read first thing in the morning. When he turned two, I decided to add an “act of love/service” in each pocket. I found a great sample calendar with kid-friendly acts of love, made some edits, and now each day has a service activity for us to do together.
The first year we tried Acts of Love, his favorite activity was picking out a car on our afternoon walk to leave a Christmas care package of a candy cane, Christmas note, and $1 bill. He picked the blue car that parked four houses down, and we left the package there. When he was three, our favorite activity was picking out new toys (and even a couple of his new birthday presents) to donate to the children at the homeless shelter. Now that our youngest son is 16 months, I can’t wait to include him in the Acts of Love as well.
Tradition #2: Mini Tree for the Kids
Last year our son begged for his own tree to decorate. We decided it was a great opportunity for him to participate in kid-friendly holiday decorating. We allowed him to pick out his own ornaments, and he loved having his own tree. This year we let his 16 month old brother “help” him, and they only broke two ornaments!
Tradition #3: Christmas Lights Display
The exact location of the Christmas lights display may change, but we always make it a priority to find the most impressive light display in the area. In Florida, we learned that St. Augustine’s light display ranked in the top ten in the nation by National Geographic. St. Augustine is only 45 minutes from Jacksonville and became our go-to for impressive Christmas lights display. We would get there early, enjoy a tasty dinner, walk the streets, and admire the lights. This year I researched local Christmas light displays and decided on the Harbor Lights Festival with the lighting of the Christmas tree and illuminated boat parade. It was our first time to participate, but I know this will become an annual tradition.
Tradition #4: Santa Train Ride
Like most children, our kids love trains! In Jacksonville, I researched the closest train ride with Santa and booked us tickets for the St. Mary’s Railroad in St. Mary’s, Georgia (45 minutes away.) We had a blast riding the train with Santa and the Grinch (actors from the local community theater.) This year we are celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family in Dallas, and a train ride with Santa is a must-do activity for the cousins. We booked tickets on the famous North Pole Express in Grapevine. We cannot wait!
What are your favorite holiday traditions with your kids?