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Ideas for holiday traditions?

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

I know others have brought this up but I’m looking for ideas on how to start our own holiday traditions.

In my family we use to get together at my grandparent’s on Christmas Eve with my aunt and cousins and any other extended family that could make it. We’d have lunch, open gifts, then head home and Christmas morning was spent just us; mom, dad, me, and sister. As such this is still been the norm as I’ve grown but now my mom’s is considered grandma’s place. My sister and her guy come in with the kids. My dad comes up too and I go over there. They leave that evening and have their own Christmas at home.

Well of course this isn’t exactly possible. SO gets the kids Christmas afternoon this year. Next year he returns them Christmas afternoon. I love that once we get them this year they get to stay for at least a week but of course there’s no special night before. Then next year we get the special night before but they open their presents Christmas morning and don’t get to play with anything for 2 weeks.

I know Christmas isn’t just about the gifts. It’s about the memories. Anyone have any special ways you create these memories when it yo-yo’s like this? My partner and I will still be going to my mom’s for Christmas Eve so by no means am I being asked to give up my traditions. I just want ideas on how to start our own with his kids so it isn’t just about gifts.


ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Dh and I chatted about this, I know it may not help... But basically we made a list of Christmas traditions we wanted to keep, and we're going to do them yearly regardless of the location of the Skids.

Cover1W's picture

Well, my holiday traditions have been slowly edged out and then with a bang last year I was done. I have no more traditions personally. I'm even going to remove my holiday ornaments from the general ornaments and not use them for a couple years.

I refuse to buy more holiday decorations or put any of my $ into decorating just because SD13 "wants the room to look more like Christmas." I flat out told DH that this year I'm not being the one to arrange putting anything up or when. He knows where the tree is and the decorations. I will likely help take it down to get it out of the way after, but that's it.

I gave up cookie making with the SDs.
I gave up holiday cooking for anyone but DH.
I gave up arranging holiday events or outings because everyone just complained.
I don't choose holiday movies.
I'll buy a limited amount of gifts and help DH wrap (only with some wine or bubbly available).
I ask SDs to make a holiday gift list ONE time only. No list? No suggestions? Not my deal.
I WILL choose holiday music. That's about it.
Oh, I do work a lot too during the 2 weeks they are with us.

It's funny b/c DH was recently saying how he loves the holidays and all that comes with it. I'm looking at him like he has two heads because he doesn't DO anything to prep for it. Even SD13 said, "But Daddy, you were just sitting on the couch last year when we put up the tree..."

lieutenant_dad's picture

If they are going to leave the next day and not get to play with heir gifts, maybe have them open gifts the first night they are with you so they get some time with them, even if they open gifts a week before or after Christmas. Make the first night they are there the big deal with dinner, gifts, new pajamas, a Christmas movie, etc.

My parents worked more holidays than they had off, so we rarely celebrated holidays on the actual day. Sometimes Christmas was dinner, gifts, and dessert on Christmas Eve then early bed for Santa. Sometimes it was breakfast, gifts, and naps on Christmas morning. Nothing was ever tied to a day, but more to doing the same general thing year after year.

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

SO and I were kind of throwing that idea around. The PJ's was the big thing for me honestly.
In my family we always got new pajamas on Christmas eve. It was a big deal for us. I feel it loses the 'meaning' if they get them at the same time that they get everything else. Like what 5 year old cares about pjs when he just got a new truck to play with?

We talked about moving the 'day' to the morning after we get them if they have to go home on Christmas. Any ideas of what to do if they come to us on that day?

lieutenant_dad's picture

If you get them Christmas afternoon, then give them pajamas that night, have dinner, and watch a movie. The next morning, do cinnamon rolls or bread pudding or something, open gifts, and enjoy the rest of the day. On years they leave Christmas afternoon, I assume they stay with SO the week leading up to Christmas. In that case, you do the pajama thing on the evening SO gets them, presents the next morning, then your family get together on Christmas Eve and a normal morning on Christmas.

zerostepdrama's picture

DH, my BS and I go out on X-Mas Eve and look at Christmas lights. So the years they are there on X-Mas Eve you can look at lights on X-Mas Eve, the years they are there on X-Mas afternoon, you can go out Christmas night.

My BS leaves every Christmas around noon to go with his dad. So DH and I spend the day napping or sometimes we go out to the movies. I make our own tradition so it's not so "sad" that BS isn't there with us.

DaizyDuke's picture

how about doing some things with them prior to Christmas? Like some of the traditions that we do with BS7 are:

Adopt an angel from the Salvation Army tree and buy gifts for that child.
We do a Random Acts of Christmas Kindness calendar and try to do something every day of the month in December (from leaving candy canes on people's cars to making goody bags to drop off to the police department to the Christmas doorstep challenge etc)
Making Christmas cookies
Driving around and looking at Christmas lights
Cutting down your own tree

There are sooo many things you can do that don't have to be done on Christmas day!

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

Let me add that I'm not in any way disengaged. I know a lot of people do their own thing but this is our first year "as a family".
I want to try and find ways to make it special and not just a gift grab. My SO is amazing and I love the kids. He's ensured that we have a good relationship and they are still very young. I'm not required to do this. I want to.

I'm not giving up my Christmas Eve. Either they are with us or not. We're still going to be at my moms or at least I am and SO can sit his butt at home if he likes.

I know that I'm flexing on the tree. My family always put it up on Friday after Thanksgiving. Since it's not always possible for the kids to be with us this year we'll put it up on Thanksgiving with them if not the night before. I don't mind moving that a few days to try and include the kids because honestly its more fun with them.

I guess my bigger question is how is Christmas not just a gift grab if they kids don't get there till Christmas afternoon? And for anyone who's had the kids leave on Christmas afternoon do they still get joy from opening the gifts that morning or is it more of a disappointment tease because 'yeah I got this thing I want to play with but now I have to leave so I can't booooo'.

I may just be putting too much thought in it because this is the first year but yeah.

zerostepdrama's picture

You're putting too much thought into it.... I think...

My BS has been going with his dad between 11am-noon every Christmas Day since 2010. He's now 12. He usually gets up super early so by the time he goes to his dad's he has already been playing with his toys for at least 5 hours. Yeah it sucks leaving the toys but he knows he's going to his dad's family Christmas and it's a lot of fun and he gets toys there and hangs with his cousins so for him it's a win/win. He knows his presents will still be at my house when he returns and he still enjoys them.

lieutenant_dad's picture

You're over thinking it and trying to make it too special - and, I don't mean this offensively, trying to enmesh your traditions into your "new" family.

Pajamas may not be special to the kids. Baking may not be special to the kids. Christmas in general may not be special, or they only view it as a gift grab from everyone. Please don't put so much emphasis on the holidays because you may end up disappointing yourself and spoiling the things you love about the holidays because the kids don't share in your enthusiasm.

I think you and SO should each pick a dingle thing you want to make a tradition for the family. Yours may be pajamas. His may be watching a specific movie, or baking a specific cookie, or seeing Christmas lights, or whatever. Make it something you could do any time you have the kids around the holidays, and make it something you and SO can do together if the kids can't or don't want to do it in the future.

skatermom's picture

DH and I have been together over 8 years and we always told the kids Santa is coming on ___________day. Which is whatever day works out when we have all the kids. Usually Christmas eve morning or whatever. We just put them to bed and say, "Santa is coming tonight!"

This has always worked out for us.

justkeepstepping's picture

I'm so glad my parents didn't make a big deal of the holidays when they divorced. We were always with our dad on Christmas Eve until 6 or so and always with our mom on Christmas Day. To this day my father still does his Christmas on Christmas Eve. They didn't fight over the other holidays either. If it fell on their time it was their holiday. I grew up with double blended families. This worked out great for all of us and there were 13 kids total.

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

BM over here would kill SO if she could get away with it. She attempts to guilt him out of every holiday. She uses her dying parent as the excuse. Given they are but it's been that way for over a year so it's not flying this year. I know that sounds rude but as I've pointed out the person ends up in the ER now an average of once a month due to complications yes they kids are still left with them every other weekend.

SO is willing to be flexible but she refused to let him have them for more than a half a day the whole season last year. This was after refusing to let him having them thanksgiving, their birthdays, Halloween, 4th of July, oh and even fathers day.

Countrymom's picture

We alternate Christmas day and Christmas Eve. This year I have Christmas Eve, therefore on the 23rd is our "Christmas eve" and I have told them I've made arrangements with Santa to be at our house in the morning on the 24th, although the Santa thing won't be an issue much longer as the youngest is almost 8. We do Christmas Eve morning just like it was Christmas Day morning, with stockings and presents left from Santa.

Whenever we have the kids I still make pumpkin rolls and candy, decorate and watch Christmas movies.

Then the kids go to the other parent that evening around 6:00pm to have Christmas day there, but our kids aren't gone for a week or two after that, it's just a few days at the most.

Also on the years that we don't have kids on Christmas day, my DH and I take a small overnight trip because I love Christmas and get depressed that I don't have my kids, so we do this to make up for it.

Last time we rented a Cabin in Gatlinburg, TN and brought a small dollar store tree and decorated it at the cabin. We also save a present or two from us to each other to open on Christmas morning.

This year we are planning on going to Gaylord Opryland in Nashville!

GhostWhoCooksDinner's picture

I used to bake Christmas cookies with the skids, but BM's were better.

We used to drive around and look at the lights, but the ones "at home" (BM's neighborhood) were better.

We used to make hot cocoa, put on Christmas carols and decorate the tree, but BM's tree was better. So was her cocoa. And her taste in Christmas carols.

So, the last couple years (before the skids PASed out), we did all that stuff without them. Eff it. They didn't care, and DH and BS and I had a lovely time doing all that without them.

classyNJ's picture

We alternated Christmas up until last year. Every other year we had them Christmas Eve until Christmas Day afternoon and vice versa.

But we still made two traditions - Christmas cookies and picking out the tree.

Cookie day is a weekend prior to Christmas. They are each allowed to bring a friend and my mom, sister, her wife, SO and cousin make the cookies and my mom makes the sugar cookie cut outs. The kids and friends sit at the table and decorate them the way they want and we pack them up and they pass them out to whomever they want to. They look forward to it even tho they are getting older.

The other is picking out the tree. Each year we rotate on who picks it. We go the day after Thanksgiving to tag it and then the next weekend we bundle up, pack the hot chocolate and we ride the wagon to the tree, watch them cut it down and pack it on the car.

Hoping you find your own traditions Smile