Holiday Traditions New & Old

27 Nov

Can you believe that Christmas is less than a month away?!  Where did the year go?

I have to say I am looking forward to this Christmas more than others past because this will be our first Christmas with our son, Parker. Even though he’s too young for 90% of the things I want to do with him, I’m excited none the less.

So how are we going to celebrate Christmas going forward with our kids? What traditions will our kids hold on to as they get older? I think what we do now will help set the tone for Christmases to come.

When I was a little girl, and even as I got older, baking was always a great holiday tradition in my house. My mom is an Italian woman, which means she never just makes a little bit of anything in the kitchen: food, drink or desert! And the holidays were no exception. Our list of goods to turnout included chocolate chip cookies, butter balls, pizzelles, lady fingers, biscotti, spider cookies and sandwich cookies (my fave!!). We’d put on Christmas music, get out the mixer, bowls and ingredients and just have a great day in the kitchen. We’d eat too much icing and raw chocolate chip cookie dough and be on a sugar high the rest of the day. We couldn’t wait to bust out the shot glasses to cut the rounds for the sandwich cookies, prick them with the fork and then steal one (or 12) as they were cooling.

Another tradition I loved was Christmas Eve. We always got to open one a present on Christmas Eve before church, and it was always a beautiful dress to wear to service or new jammies to wear home. Then we would all get ready, head to Christmas Eve service at church and then go to my Aunt and Uncle’s for a traditional Italian Christmas Eve.  We’d feast on a spread of pizza, spaghetti with garlic and oil, spaghetti with tuna fish sauce, shrimp, baccalà, fried smelts and sautéed calamari in tomato sauce.  Stuffed to the gills, we would exchange gifts, watch Christmas movies and try to stay up to see Santa on the drive home. The gift, the service, the food, the family all made that day so memorable for me. Even as an adult I long for that experience and togetherness every year.

Now I have a family of my own, and I have to inject my own special touches to the season and truly make it ours. I want to pull from my childhood traditions and memories, and my husbands, and add our own unique ideas to make something my children will long for way into adulthood.

As Parker grows up, I want him to have the best memories of the holidays. I want him to look back on these days and think, I had an awesome childhood. I want him to know it’s about more than just gifts, but spending time with family and friends and making great memories. I want him to want to bring his girlfriend/future wife home from college and have her say, “Parker could not stop talking about coming home for Christmas.” That’s not too much to ask, is it?

So what is going to become part of the Craig Family Christmas tradition?  Sledding? Skating? Cutting down our own tree? Christmas Eve movie night? Attending a special church service? A signature meal?  A special Christmas morning breakfast? What creative things will my kids inspire me to do? The possibilities are endless.

Luckily, Matt and I already have some to start with. We always go ice skating and walk around the German holiday village downtown. I also have an amazeballs hot chocolate concoction that really warms up the cold, winter nights – crushed candy canes in the bottom of the cup, hot chocolate made with milk, a shot or two of Baileys and whipped cream…and now thanks to Pinterest, this adorable, delectable looking chocolate dipped marshmallow to hang off the side of the cup. It’s not rocket science, but it is de-lish. And it’s something that Matt looks forward to every winter.

When it’s all said and done, I just want our holidays –and our lives—to be filled with love, with meaning, with fun, and most importantly, with each other.


2 Responses to “Holiday Traditions New & Old”

  1. glutenfreenotebooks November 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    I felt exactly the same this time last year for our son’s first Christmas. It’s an amazing mix of continuity and yet a new chapter… And let me tell you, now that Christmas number 2 is approaching, it just gets better! 🙂 PS your Christmas Eve Italian banquet sounds divine!!!

    • Toni Craig December 11, 2012 at 12:59 am #

      Thanks, Claire! I am looking forward to all the new memories we’ll get to make with him. It is such a great time. And I have to agree with you, our Italian Christmas Eve feast is to die for. Enjoy your second Christmas with your little one! 🙂

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