Each year Christmas traditions are celebrated and new ones begin. I’m a huge fan of tradition and taking notice to the things my family has done year after year. I’ve learned that the decorations we display, food we make, gatherings we attend and even the music we play during the holidays is what makes our celebrations unique and memorable. Now that I have a home of my own I’ve started my own traditions and of course brought along the most special ones that will always make my Christmas special. Here are some I’d like to share with you.
Picking out a real Christmas tree
A real Christmas tree is the longest tradition I can remember. Every single year a real tree has been selected from a tree farm or nursery and it’s been a special outing with the family. In recent years my Mom and I have enjoyed going together to find “the one” that will spend Christmas in our homes. We know we’ve found “the one” when we feel like giving it a hug and welcoming it into our home for the holidays. I prefer the smaller Fir trees from IKEA while my Mom’s tree comes from the nurseries and she enjoys the hunt of finding the biggest one available. The fuller the better!
Sometimes I do feel bad about cutting a beautiful evergreen down and lots of people wonder why I go to all the trouble of a real tree too. Yes they’re a lot of work. It takes time to find one, haul it home, set it up, clean up after the needles, water it and then dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way. A fake tree requires so much less but they only last for so long or go out of style and end up in land fills. After reading the following article it made me feel less guilty about my real tree.
Weaving Christmas hearts
This is a fun Christmas decoration craft I learned from my Mom. We would make a little template out of cardboard and cut out the pieces with construction paper. The strips would then be cut and then woven very carefully trying not to rip the paper. Finally a little handle would be added so they could be hung up on the Christmas tree. Soon I learned how to take the flat decorations to the next level by weaving them as baskets. This took more patience but looked so much nicer and there was room to put goodies in the basket! The red and white hearts remind me of my Grandma’s Christmas tree and it’s not Christmas without weaving a few new hearts for the tree every year.
Making handmade gifts
Sometimes a handmade gift is the perfect idea for that special someone. It is a gift of your time, energy and creativity. I know when I receive something handmade it’s not just a gift it’s a treasure. Each year I try to make some of my gifts. I’ve been learning to knit for the past 2 years and I’ve made a scarf and a ton of hats with pom poms. Almost all of my aunts and uncles have one! My Mom was the lucky recipient of my first scarf and even though it has a few dropped stitches she wears it out all the time and tells me how much she loves it. That’s why I will enjoy carrying on the tradition of handmade gifts for years to come. This year I taught myself how to wood burn and have enjoyed making wood slice hanging ornaments with designs and messages. They also make beautiful gift tags and look amazing hanging from a Christmas tree. Get creative and try making your own gifts this year!
Sending Christmas cards
There’s an excitement you feel when you open the mailbox each day leading up to Christmas and see a beautiful little envelope with your name on it. You don’t get that feeling when you open an email or e-card. The old fashioned Christmas card in the mail is a tradition I hope never fades away. It is a bit of work collecting all of the addresses, buying stamps, addressing all of the envelopes, signing the cards, sealing them all up and dropping them off at the post box. But that’s what makes it so appreciative when you do receive a card. All the time and effort that goes into sending a little joy through the mail is so worth it. I hang a string up above the living room window and when we receive a card it gets hung up to enjoy. If you’re thinking you might not send Christmas cards this year please remember that it could really brighten a loved ones day and let them know you care.
Christmas Eve Dinner & Christmas Day Brunch
In my family Christmas Eve dinner is the big night and the best food! My mom bakes her homemade buns and my Aunt makes her amazing meatballs. We come to expect them as part of our Christmas meal. There’s a sense of pride in each of their signature dishes and I hope that never stops! There’s a great variety of food for Christmas Eve dinner. You’ll find the usual mashed potatoes, corn, peas, gravy, stuffing and of course turkey and ham. We add a few more traditional dishes like beets, lingon berries, herring and Swedish thin bread. There’s also a good selection of pickles, pickled beets and bean salad. Add the homemade buns and meatballs and that’s a meal I would never miss!
In the morning we load up the car with presents and our pets and drive out to the country. Christmas morning at my parent’s house starts out with a brunch of some Swedish favorites. Pickled herring, open faced sandwiches, delicious cheese and maybe some leftover meatballs if we’re lucky! It’s a colourful spread and the best time to just soak in the last moments before we open the gifts from under the tree.
Walking in a winter wonderland
This is a tradition I’d like to start. Either Christmas Eve or Christmas day I’d like to go for a quiet walk through a wooded area. It would be nice to take a few moments to soak in the meaning of this special time and reflect on how lucky we are to have our families and friends. It would be wonderful to find a snowy spot where the trees are covered in fresh snow and take a few photos too. Of course it all depends on the weather because some years it’s been -40C and nobody wants to be out in that. I love the idea of going for a walk in the snow and it will only happen if I make time for it. Christmas is always such a busy time that those moments you want to enjoy will only happen if you remember to stop and make time for the important things.
My wish is that I have inspired you or maybe helped you reflect on your own Christmas time traditions. All the work it takes to make our holidays special is always appreciated even if it goes unmentioned. Perhaps this year some traditions are no longer able to continue so I encourage everyone to start something new and carry it on for years to come.
Merry Christmas and may your holidays be warm and bright!