CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER NORDELL
The holiday season is such a wonderful and magical time, especially when you are a child. This is the time of year that you wait for – the time of year that you count down to and relish when it arrives. When you are a child you know nothing of the stress and commercialism that plagues the holidays. All you see are candy canes, presents and beautiful decorations.
As parents I know we all want to create memorable holidays for our children. This was my mother’s favorite time of year and we had dozens of traditions that revolved around the holidays. She made this time of year so magical for me growing up and some of my best memories are of spending time as a family during Christmas. I will admit to being very lazy when it has come to creating the same magic for my girls.
In my defense we have always lived near our extended family and we were very well taken care. Both my mother and my mother-in-law made the holidays magical and wonderful for all of us with very little effort on my part. This is the first year I have to do it on my own and I am afraid I am not doing a very good job. I have been rather self-indulgent the last couple of weeks and have been having my own little “pity party” about being so far from home. I could list a thousand reasons why I am bummed out but none of them would matter to my girls. So it looks like I am going to have to “fake it until I make it”. I want to continue sharing my childhood holiday traditions with the girls and I want to start creating new fun traditions of our own.
There are several traditions that have been apart of my family since I was little that I plan on continuing with my girls. My grandfather was stationed in German for a good part of his military career so we have a few modified German traditions that we celebrate in our family. Please understand that I am not saying that all Germans celebrate these or any for that matter but I know that is the origin of most of my family’s Christmas traditions. But isn’t that what makes a great family tradition - you take something you love and modify to work in your life for your family!
The first tradition we celebrate during the holidays is St. Nicolas Day. On the 5th of December we put our shoes out and during the night St. Nicolas comes and fills them with small toys and treats. I love seeing the girl’s faces when they wake up in the morning and find their shoes. It also seems to make the wait for Santa Claus much easier on my impatient 5 year old.
The second Christmas tradition we have is Advent. I am not talking about the calendars with all the tiny doors, although we do have those as well. Our celebration of advent is simple – every Sunday and on Christmas Eve we light a candle on my Advent wreath and then spend time together as a family. We read Christmas stories, enjoy yummy treats and bask in each others company. We have found that it is a wonderful way to remind the girls of what is truly important this time of year.
The last and definitely the yummiest tradition in our family is our Christmas Day breakfast. On Christmas day I get out my aebelskiver pan and use my great grandmother’s recipe to make all of us breakfast just as my mother did when I was little. It is a delicious breakfast and the smell of the abelskivers cooking always reminds me of Christmas when I was little. Continuing these traditions with my girls has helped me feel closer to family this year even though we are so far away.
What do you do with your family to celebrate the holidays? And I not just talking just about Christmas as there is so much else to celebrate this time of year as well. Please share your family traditions with us and perhaps we all can find a new way to celebrate this wonderful season with our own families!