1. We get a real tree.
I understand and appreciate the convenience of having a pre-lit artificial tree, and normally I totally go for time-saving things like that, but I really value having a real, fragrant tree in the house each Christmas, a unique tree that we went out and chose together and brought home and set up, that requires our ongoing nurturing care. There's a lot of symbolism and beauty in that!
2. Christmas books and Christmas movies.
I love Christmas books and movies, so we have a good collection of both. I really like reading Christmas books with the boys (mostly Sam now that John has outgrown a lot of them, or he just reads them on his own). I keep a basket of them by the tree and another stack up in Sam's room that we read at bedtime.
We have family movie night every Friday (though it's usually just the boys and I) and during the holiday season we watch Christmas movies for movie night. Once school is out we watch at least one every day. Some of our family favorites are The Polar Express (you don't want to know how many times Sam watched that last year), Home Alone, Elf, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the version with Jim Carrey as the Grinch scares Sam a little, which I have to admit is pretty funny. I'm mean...like the Grinch!).
As for myself, I'm a sucker for Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and the old classics like White Christmas, Holiday Inn, and of course my all-time favorite, It's A Wonderful Life.
3. We have a nice Christmas Eve dinner.
Peter cooks a delicious prime rib for dinner on Christmas Eve, and we have various yummy side dishes and sparkling cider and we use our china dishes. It's our Christmas Eve feast and it's a special way to begin a special night.
4. Christmas Eve traditions.
Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the whole year! I love everything about it! It's a magical day that's full of excitement and anticipation. I try to stay organized and on top of things in December so that I feel peace and contentment on Christmas Eve instead of stress and busyness.
After our Christmas Eve feast has been cleaned up, we sit on the couch by the tree and read the story of Christ's birth from the scriptures, and then we each open a present. (Though in recent years, I've let the kids open a present on Christmas Eve morning, and one in the afternoon, and then the one in the evening because they get so many presents from family and from us. Plus it helps keep them occupied, which definitely increases the previously mentioned peace and contentment for which I seek on that day!)
We leave out a note and cookies and milk for Santa, throw some "reindeer food" on our front walk (oats mixed with colored sugar), and the kids go to bed. After I finish putting the presents under the tree (among other things), I like to watch It's A Wonderful Life before going to bed, where visions of sugarplums dance in my head. (Not really...though quite possibly.) It's a wonderful life? It's also a wonderful day!
(Not counting last year, when I was sick with the flu and my favorite day of the year was ruined. Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo. Bonus points for you if you get that reference!)
5. We have a nice Christmas Day breakfast.
After presents are opened, we eat a nice breakfast, again on china, usually of French Toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit, with orange juice in wine glasses. I love that Peter likes to cook and is good at it. He does most of the cooking and I do the cleaning up. We make a good team!
After breakfast, the fancy meals are done and we relax and have leftovers or easy food for the rest of the day.
What are some of your favorite Christmas or holiday traditions?