Michael, over on the blog The Wonderful World Of Nothing Worthwhile, wrote a post about his feelings about the holiday spirit of Christmas. In our house we have developed several family traditions regarding Christmas spirit. Both, I think, because there was little money and sometimes, family members were deployed by the military.
The Christmas List: This tradition was started in my husband's family. There were seven kids and not a lot of money for Christmas. So they made their celebration about the quality of the gifts and not the quantity. So here is what they did and how they did it (and the way we continue it).
Everyone is required to write out a Christmas List, that is at least one sheet of lined paper long, with wishes. Those that do not provide enough wishes are 'given' wishes by Mom and Dad. These would include things that you REALLY don't want for Christmas such as a jock strap... for one of our daughters. I'm sure you get the idea.
The rules of the list are always the same. You can put anything on the list and encouragement is given to include things as small as paper clips and as large as a Lamborghini.
The fun part about this for everyone involved is that you can translate any given list however you want...so if you are not very specific...well let me give you an example:
Say you ask for a book but do not specify a particular one, then anything in the shape of a book is fair game. Such as book ends that look like books, a picture of a book, wooden letters that consist of the letters BOOK...etc.
I think you get the idea. Believe me, it becomes very difficult to decide just how to word your list when everyone is trying to get you what you listed without 'getting what you listed'. Obviously we do not do this with every item on your list as that would not be any fun at all, but just enough to make it hilariously unique.
One year, when my husband was a teenager, he asked for a scope for his rifle...he got a bottle of Scope mouthwash. His father asked for a Blonde...and got a Barbie. One of our daughters asked for nail polish, and got a bunch of large nails, painted with nail polish. Our daughter, Nina gave me 'World Peace' a few years ago or rather it was world pieces... a magnetic globe puzzle. I can't put that on my list any more.
Believe me, you can get quite creative. And sometimes, as in the case of my sister, who didn't do such traditions, spread the hilarity beyond our small family fold. One year, after hearing me talk about this, she decided that my husband would make a perfect 'first effort' at a new tradition. She got him a tool belt and hammer that she had painted brilliant pink! When he opened his present she told him she had just wanted him to get in touch with feminine side.
Oddly enough, my husband had decided to get a level for my sister Suzanne that same Christmas. This was not just a small level for leveling pictures... it was about 4 feet long or thereabouts. He spent hours to carefully tape off the windows and then he painted the rest of the level a brilliant pink. He told her when she opened it that he just wanted to remind her that she was a girl.
What makes this especially memorable is that the two of them, on the same day, asked me what I thought of the present they had decided to give each other. I had the hardest time of my life not giving either of them away. When it came time for the two of them to open presents, I made them open these particular gifts at the same time! We laughed so hard that Christmas that we were in danger of asphyxiation.
This tradition ensures that each person chooses very carefully for each other. It requires thought, friendship, caring and love. None of the gifts end up as something someone bought in a spending spree on black Friday. I think that is what I love the most.
Ornaments - Each of our children receive two ornaments a year. One is a blown glass ball and the other is whatever we think they will like. We make sure each ornament is marked with the year and the person, because these ornaments will be given to them to hang on their own Christmas tree after they are married to "get them started" . They all also have a pickle ornament that is put on the tree after they go to bed on Christmas Eve. My husband and I 'hide' them. The child on Christmas morning that finds 'their' pickle first, gets a special gift. Last year it was a $25 itunes gift card. The rest get a different gift IF they can find their pickle. Last year it was a $10 itunes gift card.
Stockings - You may NOT get out of bed before 6am or you forfeit your stocking and you may NOT wake up the parents until 7am. When you get up, you may open any gifts in your stocking. I usually have a lot of odd, small items I collect throughout the year such as funny pens, pencils, hair accessories, erasers, earrings, chap stick, socks, small games, candy, gift cards, band-aids, etc.
All in all the kids get at least one gift they really wanted, sometimes an extra listed but not listed present, a blown glass ball (btw this was a new tradition started my best friend's family half a dozen years ago), one more ornament, the pickle prize and stockings. This doesn't sound like a lot of presents, does it? In truth, we are all rich with laughter, gratitude and love. It's a tough financial climate out there but one can always truly count their blessings... so improvise, adapt, overcome...
Please share your own special family traditions...
QOTD: "Hold on to family traditions that instill love and joy into the hearts of your loved ones. Create traditions that bind with love, respect and laughter. Quietly and peacefully put to rest those traditions who's time has gone." Lemon Stand