I received an email in reply to my Top 10 Top 10s post from my friend Katie suggesting a top ten list of the Christmas traditions I am looking forward to sharing with Dylan. This is his second year on earth, which is not many, but it seems to be enough to have him interested in Christmas. He is especially intrigued with Christmas trees (breakable ornaments for the win!), Frosty the Snowman, colored lights, Santa (especially when in the sky on a sleigh) and, of course, presents. I’m still working on Rudolph and stockings. What am I forgetting? Candy canes? He likes taking them off the tree and breaking them up inside their plastic wrapping. Oh, and snow. There isn’t any on the ground yet but last year he loved sledding so I’m sure if we get some while we are visiting, it will be a hit!
Top 10 Christmas Traditions I’m Excited To Share With Dylan!
1. Decked Halls
Because we live so far away and I want to be with my family on Christmas, I spend most of the month of December staying at my parents’ house with Dylan (Jay joins us closer to Christmas day). I don’t bother decorating our house in Georgia before I go so I’m thankful my parents go all out with the holiday cheer. They have amassed a ton of Christmas stuff over the years so the month of December is spent among jingle bells and twinkle lights. It must seem like a wonderland to Dylan.
2. Family Christmas Parties
Family gatherings amp up around the holidays and I love that Dylan gets to spend lots of concentrated quality time with his family, especially since we don’t get to see them that often. The holidays are also a time we get together with extended family members that we don’t get see the rest of the year. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually have a second cousin close to my age that lives minutes from me in Georgia who I only see at my uncle’s yearly Christmas party in Massachusetts!
3. Singing Christmas Carols In The Car
I’ve mentioned before that music makes me sad. That’s still true, but for some reason I like singing Christmas carols in the car with Dylan. My father is very particular about his Christmas music. He loves it and plays it constantly but he insists on only listening to the classics and NO modern day renditions. Mariah Carey has no spot on his playlist…and by “playlist” I mean an FM radio station.
4. Decorating Cookies
Dough. Frosting. Sprinkles. Need I go on?
5. Christmas Eve Mass
There aren’t many nativity scenes on my Christmas spectrum and I don’t belong to a formal church, but I did growing up and have fond memories of Christmas Eve mass. It was always exciting when I was little because the church shined with lights and everything was amped up with special music and presentations. Also, the late masses marked the start of my very secular Santa vigil that would last throughout the night (or, until I inevitably fell asleep). I don’t think I will take Dylan to mass this year if my mom goes because he wouldn’t be able to sit still, but I might in the years to come, just so he can have the experience.
6. Cookies, Milk, Carrots And A Note For Santa and His Reindeer
Speaking of Santa, I think Dylan will enjoy helping me get a plate prepared for him and his reindeer. I also think he’ll be able to follow the story that goes along with it. I’ll just need to prevent him from taking a bite out of each cookie. I think the carrots are safe.
7. Candles In The Window On Christmas Eve
My sister, Kelly, and I shared a room growing up and I distinctly remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve in a room overly lit by candles in the windows. Sometimes my older sister, Alana, would join us in our room and we’d all stay up late talking about Santa and our unbearable excitement for the morning. Since we arrived earlier in the week I’ve been turning off the candles before I put Dylan to bed (he sleeps so much better in the pitch dark), but I think I’ll leave them on on Christmas Eve!
8. Opening Presents On Christmas Morning
I don’t care about opening presents anymore myself, but I am every excited to watch Dylan open his! I remember waking up early, slowly opening my stocking and then waiting not-so-patiently for my parents and everyone else to get up so that we could start opening gifts. I would scout out all the gifts and look for the ones that were oddly shaped or really big and hope they were mine. It would be extra-cool if Dylan could be at his own house for a least part of Christmas day because it would be fun to surprise him with a big gift or two (we have to travel with everything he gets here so it’s a little hard to be extravagant), but plenty of fun can be found in small packages too!
9. Playing With New Toys All Day On Christmas
When you are little there is a moment right after all the presents are opened where the world falls out beneath you and you have to figure out how to live again in a world without an impending Christmas morning. Thankfully, having a ton of new toys to explore the rest of the day brings on a new, more contented kind of excitement.
10. Sliding On A Sled
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with snow, sledding is a perfect Christmas day activity. My parents have a great yard for sledding so I’m hoping its snowy enough for Dylan and his cousins to tear it up outside.
I feel a little self-conscious posting this list because its all very superficial. None of the traditions I’m claiming to be my favorites involve selfless acts of giving or putting the season into perspective. I know this season is about more than Santa and presents, but I can’t help but see everything through Dylan’s eyes and, gosh, its an exciting time for a kid!
As Dylan matures I will do my best to bring a larger context to the holiday season, but I also hope he sees it as magical his whole life long. Sharing in family traditions will be pivotal to this. There are many hard days in life and responsibilities pile on fast as you grow up, but I believe having a big reservoir of happy memories can bring a larger perspective to the hard moments too.