Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Glitter, Hot Chocolate, and Mangers, Oh My!

We have a new Formspring question to answer today and I'm particularly excited about it. A reader asks:

Q: What do you do to get into the Christmas spirit?

A: Oh, so very many fun things! I love holidays and any reason to celebrate in general, but there's something about the tinsel, snow, and hot chocolate-induced stupor of the Christmas season that I love the very best! I don't know that I do anything particularly exciting or unusual compared to everyone else, but I'll share some of our family's favorite traditions anyway.

First off, Christmas music, Christmas music, Christmas music. I can't say it enough. I'm not even going to pretend I wait until December rolls around to bust this one out. Pandora's general Christmas station is my fave, especially since I get to delete the annoying Christmas songs that normally would tolerate while wishing they would just forever disappear.

As soon as Thanksgiving has been seen out the door, the Christmas decor is well on it's way up. The tree is, obviously, the main event, but I find having little Christmasy reminders throughout the main living areas really festify (yup, made up word there) things. For me, personally, Christmas is when I let my early-adolescence glitter fetish out. As I've grown up, I suppressed my love of all things sparkle, but all bets are off come December 1st. Anyone who visits my house this time of year can attest to that.

I'm a big seasonal baker. So, it only makes sense that when the holiday season starts, the cookie sheets are almost constantly out...not to mention, it doesn't hurt any that it's finally cooled off enough by then to enjoy the little extra warmth in the kitchen that the oven brings. We're particularly big fans of ginger snaps in our house; my husband, especially, has an amazing knack of cooking them to a just-perfect soft perfection. If I'm being honest, it's not even just about the baked goods, it's the whole food kit 'n' caboodle. For example, I l.o.v.e. soups. So much, I'm occasionally tempted to have a steamy affair with them. Yes, I love them *that* much. So, hot soup+Christmas weather+warm bread=an absolute perfect combination. Throw in some peppermint hot chocolate next to a lit Christmas tree and honey, I am in heeeeaven. Then there is the holiday ham and the cheese balls and the little smoked sausages one finds at parties. See what I mean? This time of year is ALL about the food.

Lastly, I find that I feel most Christmasy when I actually focus on, well, Christmas. As in Christmas. There's something about teaching and re-teaching my children the true reason for the season year after year that helps me reaffirm my own testimony of Christ. I have a pile of Christmas books I read to my babies and my favorites, hands down, are the ones the tell the nativity story, even if it means that I'm re-reading the same ol' words day after day. I also made up a stash of wood blocks with nativity characters on them for the kids to play with and I love watching them act out the story of Christ's birth (when they're not seeing who can chuck them the farthest into the Christmas tree, of course :P). In particular, my favorite Christ-centered tradition is one that we just started last year. I have a simple box (currently it's a shoe box wrapped in brown paper, but I hope to upgrade it to wood within the next year or two) that represents Christ's manger. When the kids promptly obey, do something particularly nice or helpful, or any other good deed, they get to put little slips of paper, or "hay," into the manager in order to prepare for the birth of Christ. They get to pick a hay piece out (we have a bunch of different brown-toned colored slips), I write their good deeds on it, and they put it into the manger. It's a constant reminder of Christ throughout the season of His birth.

Well, those are the ways *I* get into the Christmas spirit. What I really want to know is how *y'all* do it...so, come on now, 'fess up!

ps-This post wouldn't be complete with a quick mention of our little elf, Demitri, that comes to visit every year. My yearly holiday blackmailing of the season ("don't make me call Santa's cell phone!") just wouldn't be the same without him!


  1. I love all of your ideas, and think the baby Christ's manger might be one I implement as my kids get a little older and therefore more accountable.

    I pretty much do all the same things, decorate, listen to Christmas music, eat yummy food. We also try to give in some way, the Angel trees or something simple, like baking cookies for the Fire Department.

    I also like to countdown to Christmas and this year we are doing one Christmas themed activity a day for the twelve days of Christmas. I'm trying to keep things simple this year so I can really enjoy and explore the holiday with my kids and not stress out.

  2. Oooh, I love your and Aubrey's ideas. Now that I have the gifts taken care of, I feel like I can relax a little more.

    Hmmm, what do we do? We have Jean Luc, our Bayou Born Elf on the Shelf, we have a Christmas count-down, we do a toy for tots gift. We also, and my kiddos love it, have a FHE where we drive around, vote on the best decorated house, then ring and run leaving a box of chocolates behind as their award (with the reason we left it for them on a gift tag). I adore Christmas music and I love watching Christmas movies. We just watched Mr. Krueger's Christmas and the Nativity Story. Beautiful. I try VERY hard to make sure my children know why we celebrate Christmas. I think it is possibly paying off. :)