New TraditionsNow, with things like Elf on the Shelf in the world (things that were not here when I was little), new traditions are born. There are some traditions I’ve heard about over the years that I used to think I would DEFINITELY do with my kids. (Aren’t we fun when we are young and don’t actually have the kids yet?) Take, for example, a tradition of Santa magic appearing as glittery confetti outside of bedroom doors in a little trail to the room where the Christmas tree is. Santa definitely came! Awww! That is ADORABLE! Until I’m the one standing outside my kids’ door thinking “What the hell am I doing? They will slip and fall on this stuff, and then I still will have to clean it up. Nope. Nix the confetti, Santa.” There are other traditions I’ve heard over the years that I used to think there was NO.CHANCE.IN.HELL. I would do with my kids. You know. Like, for example… Somehow our Elf, Jasper, found his way to us, I believe on the boys’ second Christmas. For a few years, he just kicked it in the same spot on top of the picture frame in the breakfast nook. No trouble at all. He’s no longer as chill as he once was (but fortunately not as naughty as some of his buddies.)
Elf TraditionsJasper Stearns is a fine elf, don’t get me wrong. In years past he’s been super about encouraging kindness and good deeds, leaving positive notes and not being too naughty. He has always popped in and out, occasionally heading back to the North Pole for a while. (He usually leaves a note for this, but he’s been MIA for a few days now and no note was left so we aren’t sure what happened. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) The main traditions Jasper has brought to us, besides the pleasure of his company are:
- Technically he can arrive anytime after Thanksgiving, but he has really only ever arrived for us on December 1st.
- He always brings Christmas Jammies when he arrives. Before I had kids, and before Jasper, I thought I’d give Christmas Eve PJs. But, Jasper bringing them is great because then the boys can wear them the whole month! He even usually brings matching or coordinating jammies to me and my mom!
- Every year I make sure everyone knows I do NOT want Candy Canes in the house. It’s too much sugar and they are too sticky. But Jasper likes to have some fun. Every year he hangs Candy Canes on our tree.
- At some point during his time with us, he brings us ingredients to make cookies and leaves us a note to take them to others.
- When Jasper leaves us for the season, he always leaves the boys with special ornaments for each of them. Some years, he’s even been kind enough to make sure there was a picture of ME with them on their ornament. (This year was not one of them. Oh well.)
HandprintsI believe I’ve gotten handprints of the boys every year. I keep thinking I will make a tree skirt that we stamp handprints on every year. My cousin did this and it is A.MAZ.ING. But of course, I forget about it until it’s go-time, and still haven’t done it. It probably doesn’t help that I like the tree skirt I have. But I saw another example of one with the hands traced on fabric and sewn or ironed on – so that could work since I have their handprints for each year (somewhere).
Pictures on Santa’s lapOf course. For the first few years it is the same Santa – and then the last two years it’s a different Santa – but the same one. (meaning – Years 0-3 was Santa A, years 4-5 was Santa B). I much prefer Santa A, but his schedule and location changed, so I am on the hunt for him. I figure if I can find him again, I’ll just photoshop his head onto the last two years :-).
ArtI have the boys make some art every year – a drawing or painting of some sort – and I scan it in and shrink it down and make tiny pictures in frames with them and give them as gifts. Original art prints. They are SO cute! (I’ll update this post with some pics of these adorable little pieces of art…someday. :-))
Personalized BooksWhen the boys were three or four, I started getting them personalized books for Christmas. These are from me – not Santa – and they are a HUGE hit. There are quite a few companies out there who create adorable books, but the one I use is I See Me Books! I LOVE these books, and the boys do too. (Aside – they are also on EBATES!) Here are a few of ours from years past: I will say that the one on the bottom in the picture is my very favorite one (so far). It’s actually written for one child’s name, but when I read it, it totally works with two names. It is really a wonderful book and my sweet fellas love to hear how special they are!
Local Traditions in Northeast FloridaIf you happen to be in the Northeast Florida area around holiday time, there are quite a few local traditions I like to do every year.
- Zoo Lights at the Jacksonville Zoo is always a fun time.
- Deck the Chairs in Jacksonville Beach is another great family event. It’s only been going for six years, but it is truly turning into a must-do this time of year.
- Jax Illuminations drive-through light show is cool. They serve you hot chocolate and candy canes in the car when you get there, and you just cruise through as the lights dance to the synchronized music.
- St. Augustine Nights of Lights is GORGEOUS.
- There are a couple of whole neighborhoods that go bananas with lights around here – so we usually take several rides around town checking those out and singing Christmas carols.