Welcome back, magic.

Friday, December 21, 2012


With it getting so close to Christmas, I've been thinking a lot about our family dynamic and how we will celebrate Christmas in the years to come in a meaningful and memorable way. I guess you could say that a little light has been rekindled in me this year - one that I lost somewhere in my teenage years. I'm talking about the true magic of the holidays, the head to toe excitement that used to over take me from Thanksgiving until my head hit the pillow on New Years. Having you has brought it all back. Everything about celebrating Christmas as a tiny family has me so excited. I've been scratching present ideas on slips of paper all over the house for months, dreaming of dressing you in your new pajamas on Christmas Eve and the little red velvet dress I wore as a baby on Christmas day.

Christmas is five days away, but our Christmas has really already begun. We've walked the aisles of trees, reveling in the smell of pine, and picked our very special one. We've managed to drag out the boxes full of Christmas ornaments and decorate the tree. It took us four days to finish it, but it's up and it's ours and it's beautiful. We've sipped hot cocoa in bed and egg nog to the tune of the Christmas classics, and it all has me glowing. I wasn't sure if you would be old enough to be affected by Christmas this year, but you seem to feel the warmth of the holidays taking over our home as well. Your little fingers love to reach out and touch the ornaments on the tree. We turn the lights on each night when Papa gets home from work and you always stop and marvel at the lights . . . right before you start ripping bows off the presents.

The holidays are meant to be a time of celebration, a time to cherish family, a time to revisit traditions and make new memories, and most importantly, it's a time to reflect on and give thanks for the life of Christ. I say this, hoping that the authenticity behind it shows - I don't want to sound like I'm just speaking Christianese to blend in with the crowd. However, I can't not say it. I love to celebrate Christmas with decorations, good food, gifts, and special movies and music, but we're really going to strive to make sure that these are not the focus of our celebration. As a family, we are all about giving our children experiences rather than things, so in honor of that, I thought I would share a list of holiday traditions. Since you aren't quite big enough to get excited about all of these this year, I doubt we will manage them all, but I hope to implement them into our Christmas season over the years and make this time of the year really special for you.

- This is a tradition that your Papa and I started on our first Christmas together: we sleep under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. (I think this one might be my favorite.)
- We also string together cranberries and put them on the tree on Christmas Eve. We started doing this because they would get old and shriveled by Christmas when we did it any earlier.
- This one is going to be really fun when you get a bit older. I'm not going to put name tags on the presents. Each person will be represented with a certain wrapping paper color or design. I'm going to hide a square of this paper somewhere in the house and you will have to find it on Christmas morning before you can know which presents are yours to open.
- I would like to go through an advent calendar when you're old enough to understand the purpose behind it, but it won't be a piece of chocolate or a way to keep up with how many days are left until Christmas. It will be a bucket list of sorts, full of movies, books, family activities, and traditions.
- We have to decorate a gingerbread house or men each year, of course!
- I plan on buying or making you and your sibling(s) matching pajamas to wear on Christmas morning every year. When I was younger, one of our traditions was that we would get to open a present on Christmas Eve, which I plan to keep, but after a few years I think you'll catch on to the fact that it will always be pajamas.
- Papa and I have also been doing this since our first Christmas: We exchange Christmas ornaments on Christmas Eve. . . and as much as I hate doing this, we've opened our stockings on Christmas Eve for the past few years too. Papa's mom could never wait to give him and his brother their presents, so she would always ask them to open a present here and there leading up to Christmas, but I love surprises, so I'm a stickler about waiting until Christmas morning. This is our compromise, I guess.
- Growing up, my grandparents always mailed us a personalized Christmas ornament and we loved getting them each year! I'm hoping that Gramma is going to continue this tradition with you.
- One year, on New Year's Eve night we had a bonfire in our back yard with hot dogs and marshmallows (roasted over that year's Christmas tree). Before the clock struck twelve, we all made our way to the front yard with pots and pans and wooden spoons in tow. At 12 o'clock on the dot, our neighbors all heard the loudest banging, screaming, party that six kids and two adults could make. I'm hoping we can make this a tradition in our house.
- I want to have a fondue dinner and dessert night sometime during the holiday season. I'm thinking about doing it the day after Christmas, so that after all of the excitement and gift exchanging is over, we all have something to look forward to.
- I want to set a basket of heart shaped ornaments under the tree. Whenever someone does something nice for another person in the house, they get to hang a heart ornament on the tree. I think this is an enjoyable way to encourage everyone to look for ways to show love to one another.
- I've always loved making paper snowflakes and I hope you will too when you're old enough to help me. I can't wait to see you proudly display your creations on our front window.
- Let's go for a train ride and pretend it's the Polar Express! We can bring a thermos of hot chocolate and snacks, of course.
- This is the first year we've managed to send out Christmas cards, but I hope to make it a tradition. It would be really neat to watch our family grow through the cards that we've saved over the years.
- I want to let you kids have your own Christmas tree to decorate. Each year, I want to make a handmade ornament together and fill the tree with them. I also want to put your handprints on a tree skirt and mark it with the year each Christmas.
- I'm hoping we can find some neighborhoods around Albuquerque with awesome lights so we can go for a drive each year to see them.
- Driving up the mountain to play in the snow, make a snowman, and go sledding would be fun. (We did this right after you were born, which is when we got the most snow, so I'm thinking this tradition may have to become a birthday tradition instead.)
- Put together a jar that we can slip memories into throughout the year. Pull them out and read them together on New Years Eve. I thought this would be a good idea for a Christmas ornament too, but it would be hard to pull them all out on New Years. Maybe we will keep them in a jar, read them, then out them in an ornament for safe keeping.

We tried our best to keep the presents to a minimum this year, but you've ended up with quite the loot. To be fair, we didn't buy much for you before you were born, besides clothes, so you really needed some nice toys. We bought you a baby sock monkey, wooden ball and hammer box set, a wooden stacking ring set, a chatter telephone, a wooden latches board, a set of touch and feel first words flash cards, and two board books. We also got you a Mr. Potato Head for free at one of Papa's work events, and filled your stocking with two rubber ducks and a set of small wooden blocks. Next year I'm hoping to have the time to make you some handmade presents, but I just couldn't find the time this year. I feel so grateful to have found this holiday spirit inside of me again. I know it sounds completely corny, but it's true! What a gift it is to hang your stocking beside ours - a symbol of our growing family. I can not wait to experience the joy and celebration of the holiday season through Evangeline Idella's eyes.


Readers: What are some your favorite holiday traditions that you look forward to each year?


  1. VanOrmer Christmas Traditions
    (Starting now)

    -We also did the pajamas on Christmas Eve (still can't believe how long it took us to figure it out) and for Spencer I plan on doing that and saving them to make a Christmas quilt out of later.
    -We also made our own ornaments each year, I plan on also making one myself for Spencer each year, which only he will be allowed to put them all on the tree each year. Same for other future children.
    -Baking and setting out Santa's cookies/Rudolf's carrots.
    -A continuation of the previous one, I would like to have an apron that we put Spencer's hand prints on every year, and wear while baking the cookies.
    -When he's old enough (and the "magic" of Christmas is lost, if you get what I mean) we will do the presents as a scavenger hunt, with each present containing a rhyming hint to find the next. My mom did this for us, made it really fun.
    -Reading "The night before Christmas" before bedtime on Christmas Eve.
    -Holding Hands as the ball drops on New Years then dancing around and making lots of noise right after it drops.
    -The tradition of picking out the Christmas tree, and hand sawing it down.
    -I like your heart ornament idea, might try to incorporate something similar into our traditions.
    -After opening all the presents Christmas morning , my Grandma had a huge stocking full of tiny gifts, bible verses, and candy for everyone, and we'd all gather around her sitting Indian style as she passed them out while telling us about the true meaning of CHRISTmas. Once we got a lil older, she'd sort of quiz us on it and then toss candy or a lil gift to whoever got it right.
    -Marking Spencer's height on a panel of wood (instead of a doorframe, since we are a moving military family) want to do that ever major holiday and birthday.
    -I plan on having a standing display Christmas photo album that we add our family Christmas card to every year (this was also the first year we made one).
    -Similar to having a "cookie baking day" I would like us to have a "Christmas craft day" as well- that can consist of making snowflakes, gingerbread houses, snowglobes, Christmas light balls out of cups, and other Christmas crafts I learn throughout the years for kids.
    -Fighting over who gets the first drink of egg nog, that's one of my family's ones that I intend to carry over.
    -Each Christmas adding a patch of fabric hand stitched to Spencer's stocking stating the year and city/state we live in or are visiting, this year it will say "2012 Sumter, SC" for example. I'll probably do this on Christmas Eve night so when he wakes he'll see the new one he got each Christmas.
    -Going to see Santa and the Christmas lights.
    -My mom would take us to the dollar store and hand us each $1 per cousin, so we could pick out and buy each one a gift.
    -Roasting fat marshmallows over a bonfire and plopping them into big ole cups of hot cocoa the night after Thanksgiving, as a way to "bring on the Christmas cheer". I also like the idea of putting the Christmas tree up that day, but I know I'll never stick to that one lol. (Took me nearly a week to put it up and finish it off)
    -Starting out this year, sewing a tiny fabric red ring (with the year on it) and using it over the Christmas tree skirt, each year adding a new ring with the year embroidered on it (alternating red and green), and eventually it will be a full tree skirt, resembling the rings in a tree trunk.

    I'm sure I have more, but that's all I can think of for now, thank goodness for babies, they bring on the holiday spirit/inspiration like nothing else. Merry Christmas to y'all!!

    Lol I practically just wrote my own blog underneath your blog.

  2. ohhhhh I am in love with this list!! what a beautiful sentiment - I can see we are very much on the same page with wanting to build special family traditions around Xmas! i love the idea of sleeping under the tree on xmas eve - and the basket of heart ornaments! I have heard a similar thing except its putting a piece of hay in Jesus' manger when soemone does a kindness - so cute!
    Will have to save this post to look back on next year, you have so many wonderful ideas, isnt it amazing how having kids opens up Xmas in a whole new way!? My list is at http://livinglovinglaughingtogether.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/christmas-traditions-our-family-way.html

    xx kate

  3. Andrea, this made me all warm and fuzzy reading this! My husband has never enjoyed Christmas which was a little crushing to me (after his Nana passed away it was a hard time of year for him). Now that we have little ones, he has snapped out of it and is playing carols for us, stringing up deck lights and decorating the tree with us. (And yep, even making eggnog!- well, he has been talking about it anyway;).

    I love how our children re-kindle that amazing Christmas spirit and bring back that excitement and magic,which really is such a beautiful reminder of Christs love for us:)

  4. Wow! Love the picture and the lovely words.



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