Each year, the week of Thanksgiving, George and I put our Christmas tree up as our favorite Christmas movies play in the background. This year the quads were too small to help, so we worked under the cover of darkness. The next day, they had a special screening of Baby Einstein’s Baby Santas, however. I imagine Christmas tree decorating as being a fun family activity for years to come, especially when our “kid tree” fills with more family creations and treasures.
My mom found this beautiful wide mesh ribbon for our tree and mantle. It did such a lovely job of filling our tree. In fact, we used about 50% fewer ornaments than usual (nice time saver around here!). We typically decorate our mantle with garland laced in shimmery ribbon and white lights. However, we knew that would be a danger this year. Eight little hands would undoubtedly unplug the lights and yank the garland.
Once our den is transformed into a cozy Christmas scape, it’s time for cookies and popcorn. The first Christmas we spent in our house, our neighbors generously delivered the most delicious sugar cookies we ever tasted. At first they taunted us saying it was a “secret family recipe”, but in time they shared it with us and it’s now a family favorite here.
I think the secret to this recipe is the heavy cream, it adds a nice richness to the flavor and it softens the texture. This recipe yields four dozen, but I took my sweet time snapping a picture of them, and only six mini cookies remained three days after we baked them. Also, the frosting never made it onto this batch of cookies because they were devoured too soon!
As a child, my grandmother mailed us an Advent calendar filled with chocolates, marking down the days until Christmas Day. I remember anxiously waiting for its arrival, and then trying to figure out whether my sister or I would get to eat the first morsel (each day had one chocolate inside so we took turns). Chocolate filled Advent calendars are rare these days, but every now and then I spy one while shopping and remember the joy they brought to our family long ago. Several years ago, I found a beautiful mirrored Advent calendar at Target. It has large openings covered with miniature doors for each day. Prior to having our own children, George and I filled it for each other. Sometimes we put little chocolates inside, and sometimes little notes to each other. This year, we filled it with M & M’s for the quads to enjoy. As they get older and better understand the concept, we will probably add small gifts or notes to the boxes.
This year was our first year to adopt an Elf on the Shelf. While the tradition has become extremely popular in the last few years, George wanted to partake in that tradition long before we even had thoughts of children on our minds. We met our first Elf on the Shelf at my cousin’s house. We noticed him dangling from their chandelier as we enjoyed dinner together. She explained that it was their family’s Elf sent from Santa to monitor the children’s behavior and report back to Santa. Every Christmas thereafter, George would mention adopting an Elf on the Shelf, and this year was prime time for it. Since adopting our Elf, we read the story to the quads and Rylin named him, “Bop”, which they all say. Although the Elf on the Shelf isn’t supposed to report to your home until December 1st, ours arrived a little early and has been keeping the quads in check. Every morning we ask them were Bop is and they set out looking. He stays in plain sight so it doesn’t usually take them long to spot him and begin pointing ferociously at him.
Last year, when Santa stopped by for a surprise visit, I HAD to make sure the babies were dressed in cozy Christmas pajamas so a new family tradition was born. I found these a little early, and have been dressing the quads in them a few weeks already to get as much wear as possible. If they don’t outgrow them, they may wear them until Valentine’s Day!
Perhaps the most important Christmas tradition of all is the nativity scene. After all, it is the point of Christmas in the first place. Our nativity is the same Fontanini one my family used as a child. My mother passed it down to me when I went off to college and lived in my first apartment. There is actually a really great story behind this nativity, but that’s a whole new post!
What traditions does your family hold close to it’s heart?