Hello Readers! Saturday kicks off the final stretch of our holidays, and most likely your kids will be getting out from school early today or tomorrow. Right now, you’re probably stressed out and strapped for time. But one of the most important things right now is your time with your family as well as your Christmas Eve traditions.
Now, growing up, my family always attended Midnight Mass, which was later renamed Christmas Mass by our church. However, I always reflect back on our Christmas Pageants and Holiday Choir Recitals when I think of Christmas Eve. This is one tradition that will always stay close to my heart. But now that we are miles away from my own family church and now that I have a family of my own, I’ve started wondering what Christmas Eve (and Christmas, in general) traditions we will have.
I also know that many of you have your own Christmas Eve traditions. If not, you may be in my situation where you aren’t sure what you want to do for the holidays. So, here are a few suggestions I have for your Christmas Eve (as well as a couple for the season).
Christmas Movie/Book Box
Now, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I think this is a great option for any family. Simply wrap up a pair of holiday or winter pajamas for each child, a couple bags of popcorn (Kettle Corn would be a bonus), a couple bags of cocoa mix, and either a holiday book or a holiday movie. Leave it out for your kids to unwrap on Christmas Eve and enjoy the night at home with your family. If you need a good outlet to present this item, you can make it a gratitude gift from your Elf on the Shelf. It will delight your kids and make the Elf on the Shelf tradition even more special for your kids.
Christmas Lights/Caroling Tour
I don’t know if any of you have done it, but our family once organized a neighborhood caroling event with friends and family during the holiday season. We enjoyed hot cocoa and chili at our depot at my family’s feed store, and then we took a hay ride through nearby neighborhoods with lights and caroling. It was a lot of fun for everyone, and I often wonder if anyone ever does those kinds of things anymore. I never hear of carolers anymore, and it’s a tradition I would love to see once again. So, see if you can round up a few friends and family members for a wonderful night of caroling through the neighborhood. As a bonus, you can go to a neighborhood with great light displays and enjoy the lights while caroling through the streets.
This is a big one and a very important tradition to share with kids. Attending this service and sharing the message of Christmas miracles with your kids is important to teach them about their faith and belief. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I would still highly recommend sharing your beliefs and your special services at this time of the year with your kids. It’s always important to raise our children celebrating our beliefs and faith so that they can live throughout the generations to come.
The Elf on the Shelf
So, this is a tradition that I’m torn on. I love the idea of the Elf coming to life and delighting them with imaging what mischief the Elf got into overnight. But, both my husband Ryan and I are completely against the idea of the Elf reporting into Santa about whether or not my child was good that day. To me, it feels like a bribe for my kid to be good or else. And my husband isn’t sold on the whole Santa business while I like the innocence of Santa Claus. Anyway, we haven’t gotten our Elf on the Shelf yet. We’ve decided to get it next year. However, we are creating our own rules and tradition with this one.
- We are scrapping the book. I have nothing against reading a Christmas story to children, but I am against the original purpose behind the elf.
- Instead, our elf will come with a letter from Santa asking our family to host the elf while Santa is in town. The elf will stay with us because Santa knows our son Sean can take good care of the elf and that the elf will be in good hands in our home.
- The elf will be mischievous and helpful at the same time. Every few days, the elf will do something good for our son Sean, like pick up his toys or make him a snack, and the elf will ask Sean to pay it forward.
- On Christmas Day, Santa will leave a gift of gratitude for our son Sean (and any future children later on) for taking care of the elf for Santa. This will be the only gift from Santa (more on that in a second), and it’ll be a special kind of gift. For Sean, we’ve decided to do a train car each year from Santa so that, when he’s ten or eleven and old enough to know the truth, our son Sean will have a full train set from Santa. For a girl (if we have one), the set will be a Christmas village or porcelain doll collection. For another boy, it’ll be the same thing (a train set) or model airplanes.
- Yes, we are not doing gifts from Santa. What bothers me is the fact that most parents give the “big ticket item” to kids from Santa. And every parent says “If you don’t behave I’ll tell Santa”. I’m not fond of this notion of bribery, nor do I find it very successful. So, instead, the only gift from Santa will be the gratitude gift for watching the elf. Our reason for Santa not leaving gifts: Santa brings gifts to kids who aren’t as fortunate as our kids or that need something that they lack. Our kids will get gifts from us instead, and that’s why Santa doesn’t bring them anything because he knows that we will provide a great Christmas for our kids. What we like about this is that it still allows the illusion of Santa to exist while avoiding the meltdowns of “Santa didn’t get me what I want” or having to threaten our kids with
“if you don’t behave I’ll tell Santa”.
- Our plan for our kids is to give them a set of special gifts from us: something they Want, something they Need, something to Wear, something to Read, something to Do, something for “Me”, and something for the Family. Seven gifts. Those will be their gifts from us, plus the one “gratitude” gift from Santa. And that’s it for us. We figure this gives our kid a well-rounded Christmas without overspending.
And that’s our plan for the Elf on the Shelf and Santa, as well as our gifts to our son Sean and any future kids we may have. Do you do anything similar with your family? I would love to hear from you!
Until next time,