This week our Ventage Tuesday focuses on holiday traditions. I love December! We have a lot of traditions in our house, so old, some new! I wanted to share five of them today.
1. Our Tree. Growing up we always had a real tree, thus I assumed I would always be part of a "real tree" family. Fast forward many years to our first year in Chicago. We were newly engaged, living together in the big city. December rolled around, and I suggested that we go pick out a tree...which is when I was hit with the big, bad news! My soon-to-be husband had never had a real tree. FOR SHAME. And due to his allergies, a membership into the "fake tree club" was unwillingly thrust upon me. For a split second I worried that our marriage was over before it even began! But, in a valiant display of love, my sweetheart of a fiance offered to get me ANY fake tree I wanted. We drove to Menard's and walked up and down the aisles until I found the perfect tree! 10 years later and it's still standing strong. Every year we complain about what a giant pain it is to put up and take down...but it's all part of the tradition! ;) It's got a bazillion ornaments on it. For awhile I was an ornament snob...only wanting the prettiest, nicest ornaments. But now, I embrace them all, especially the handmade ones from our childhood - green painted preztel ornament anyone?!
2. The Advent Calendar. For a very long time we had a Starbucks tree advent calendar, I feel like most of you probably know which one I'm talking about. It had a little drawer for each day. Then one year a drawer met the wrath of Maddie. Then the next year the kid stepped on a drawer or two. And finally, she shoved some in the wrong way and the whole thing was a goner. This year I searched high and low to find a new Advent calendar. This one was perfect. It's from The Land of Nod. The only problem is that little H has made it is goal in life to either a) rip the darn thing off the wall every chance he gets or b) find his surprises and eat them when I'm not looking So fun, yet slightly frustrating with a 20 month old! We also jumped on the advent book bandwagon project and have been enjoying reading a new book each evening before bed.
3. Doc the Elf. This is Doc the Elf's third year with us. His name was bestowed upon him back in 2010 by a sweet girl who had very few words at 20 months. She pointed up at his creepy little face and said "DA!" which is the same word she used to describe just about everything new she encountered. And thus, Doc the Elf became a friend of the Spahn household in December. He's not naughty like some elves. He just watches...out of reach of the aforementioned grabby boy.
4. Downtown. Every year we take a family trip downtown. We usually eat breakfast somewhere special and then walk to the Christkindlmarket. We've been doing it for many, many years since we were first married. There have been different variations of the trip, visiting different restaurants, doing some shopping, etc, etc. Of course, it's not quite as awesome with two tired, cold kids in tow, but we've managed to survive every year thus far! We've gone in below-zero temperatures, in sleeting rain, and in a foot of snow. Nothing can stop us! We will be taking our annual trip this year this Saturday. Justin gets his wienerschnitzel, I get my candied almonds and the kids each get a special ornament.
5. Stille Nacht. Of all my traditions, this is the one that is the oldest, the corniest, and the most special. When I was a kid, every Christmas Eve after late church, my brother and I would sit in the darkness in his bedroom and play the Mannheim Steamroller version of Silent Night. We loved that album growing up, and I would wait every year until that night to listen to Silent Night. We would crank it up and just listen. It's a beautiful song, even if if it does scream "I'm from the 80's!!" There is a moment at the end where the wind blows and the melody is played on a little toy piano...it is always at this moment that I'm reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. I'm taken to that night in the manger, with the precious newborn baby. And I often cry tears of joy and thankfulness. Now, the tradition continues with my own family, though now the music is often played in the car while my children sleep after a long night with family. But it still takes me to that place, and it's still just as special.
And a few other traditions that I just had to mention:
Ritz cookies - my favorite!
The University Ave. trees
Bake-a-palooza, though this year we are taking a "break-a=paloozea!" ;)
Christmas Eve with the extended family
Christmas Day with my Dad
The Christmas book