At our house...
*The tree goes up Thanksgiving weekend, I put the lights on, and the kids (if available) and I put the ornaments on, oohing and ahhing when we find the most special ones, of course.
*We make Norwegian Krumkake, gingerbread men, and sometimes sugar cookies. Last year, Kendall volunteered to make the krumkake this year; and just like that, the baton was handed off.
*For weeks, I talk about getting a fake Christmas tree for the first time, and Mr.4444 says, "Over my dead body!" We go back and forth, and in the end, he wins. This tradition follows that of Mr.4444's parents. Some day, if tradition holds, I will win (but probably not this year).
On Christmas Eve....
*We go to mass in the late afternoon.
*We ask Grandma 4444 to come for dinner, and she declines, insisting that this night is for us and she is too busy preparing for Christmas Day to spend the evening with us.
*A candle is lit in remembrance of those who have passed before us.
*Christmas pjs are opened, and we put them on before eating a special meal by candlelight.
On Christmas morning...
*We all wait for each other to wake up and open presents, and we appreciate each one as it's opened.
*Mr.4444 shakes every gift, announces that he's guessed what it is, and proves it (around 85% of the time--It's maddening.)
*Santa has left "surprise" candy canes on the tree.
*We eat Blueberry French Toast for breakfast.
*Then we go to the grandmas' houses for more presents and too much food.
As difficult as it might be to carry on without those we miss during the holidays, traditions gently remind us that we're family, that loved ones are not forgotten, and that we can be happy again.
How about you? Are there important holiday traditions in your family? (If you've written a post about this, feel free to share the link in the comments.)