This is Day 4 of the writing prompts on Sue at Sizzling Toward 60 & Beyond’s advent calendar. Today we are to celebrate existing family traditions and consider starting some new ones.
One Thanksgiving, when Iliana was a toddler, we ended up with no family to visit. We had seen my parents the day before, and Rob’s parents were staying in Florida that year. We decided to go to his family’s home on Lake Huron and have our own Thanksgiving. We made all the traditional food and created a beautiful table.
It was very, very, very depressing.
It’s not the food that makes the holiday, it’s the people you spend it with. It felt so empty to be going through the same motions, without the same fun we were used to having with everyone.
We thought of that Thanksgiving often when we first moved to Texas. We realized this was a new chapter for us, and we would need to create some new holiday traditions, to keep them from becoming empty and lonely.
We spent our first Thanksgiving at a Yogi Bear Campground, and our subsequent traditions have been equally as non-traditional, at times.
Here are some Christmas traditions that our family enjoys:
Pancakes With Santa
When we lived in Michigan, there was a magical little house downtown, where you could go and visit Santa. Ili loved the decorations, and the emphasis was on the experience, not on ordering photos.
When we moved to Texas, I could not find such a Santa House. Our first Christmas, I took Iliana to the mall. That was a big mistake. After waiting in line for over an hour, she had a visit that barely lasted 2 minutes, tops. There had to be a better way.
The next year we moved to the boat, and I became involved with a parenting group on Facebook. This group hosted a Winterfest in November, and you could reserve a timeslot with Santa, for a price. We did that. It was more pricey than I would like, but it was much better than the mall.
Then, when I was driving past the Kemah Community Center, walkable from where we live, I saw an advertisement for “Pancakes With Santa.” This was a free event, so of course I took Iliana that year.
There were elves, Santa visits with a tiny line (and free photos), photo opps with the mayor and other VIP’s, and, most importantly, Miss Kemah.
Iliana has participated in the Texas Miss Amazing pageant twice, and although she does not want to compete again next year, she always looks forward to talking shop with the reigning queens! In fact, we refer to this event as “Pancakes with Miss Kemah.”
We love advent calendars! When we first moved to Texas, we made Iliana a calendar that involved socks pulled through a cardboard board. She would open a sock each day, and receive a toy or trinket. We even drove to Michigan with this calendar, so she could continue the fun during that visit.
Nowadays, Iliana has discovered the cardboard calendars with the chocolates. She chose her favorite design and helps herself to a candy every morning.
Additionally, for our craft tonight, we made a Christmas chain, and Iliana and I both wrote down activities for each day.
To prepare for the main event, we first make “Reindeer Feed,” with oats and glitter. Then, before bed, we spread it on the bow, so Santa’s reindeer can find our boat.
As she is falling asleep, Iliana hears the “thud” as the sleigh lands on the boat. Then she hears sleigh bells, fading off into the distance.
Well, as soon as we all are up, it’s mimosa time! This is a tradition we carried over from Rob’s family. Iliana drinks orange juice and sparkling grape juice.
We open stockings first, then do gifts one at a time.
There may be a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, if we did not visit them Christmas eve.
Then it is time to enjoy all the snacks that we prepared the day before. With Rob’s family, Christmas involved no meals, just a huge snack table. We enjoy ham roll-ups, dips, rum balls (adults only!), baked brie, and other treats. It is a day of eating, lounging, and watching movies.
Now It’s Your Turn!
What traditions do you enjoy? What would you like to add?