Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa fame) wrote that home is the place that should wrap you up in comfort and feel like the soft place to land to recover from the bruising, harried pace of the outside world. If there is one wish I have above all others for our kids, it is that they always feel our home is a soft, cozy and safe place to land before we have to head back out into the world and get back in the game.
We had dozens of ideas of how we would do holidays, traditions, life in general, before we had kids and now we are slowly getting into the part where fun experiences are transforming into rituals. I think of routines as the parts of your daily life that stitch you to the fabric of your life (I change into comfy clothes precisely when I get home, I'm specific about the order I pack my workbag everyday, I have alarms that change with the season, you know keep it festive. WHATS UP HARRY POTTER RINGTONE). Routines all strung together create rituals, and rituals are the pieces of our life that stitch us to each other, creating the holding feeling of belonging, the pieces of life that help create a family.
Our three biggest Christmas traditions to date are Christmas Cookie Sunday, where we drag out every bottle of food coloring and jar of sprinkles we have and then roll out dough and press cookie cutters down, and repeat, repeat, repeat for hours. After Thanksgiving we try for this every Sunday. The second big one for us is Holiday books. We've amassed a collection of Holiday books and have started a tradition where we wrap up 25 of them and start each December day with a scavenger hunt. We've started reading during meals and this has been a lovely tradition to help our meal-challenged-babes sit still, focus on eating and not end up wrestling on the kitchen table. The other big one for us is letting the kids save their pennies and shop for family members. Our biggest kiddo has school bazars where she gets to take her money in and buy trinkets for everyone. Last year she even remembered the dogs and got them little green poop bags. You know, "to keep it festive" she said. We go to one or two of the large craft fairs in our city each year and we split up, one Mom takes kids around shopping for the other Mom and then we meet at the end for kettle corn and hot cider for kids and buttered rum for moms. Of all the things we did last year, this is the one tradition our kids ask most about during the rest of the year. Cookies, books and craft fairs, this is like a little piece of gay holiday heaven.
For about three months after Christmas each year one of our kids will suggest making Christmas Cookies as the activity of choice no less than a dozen times a day. One of our kids keeps his jingle bell from the Polar Express train ride in his bed next to his pillow for weeks after the trip. My oldest squeezes into her Hanna Andersson Santa dress for most of the summer months until she slowly accepts it's just not working anymore, and the tiny dress gotta go (#beentheregirl). The most beloved holiday traditions all have such warm memories and seem to differ for each of us, and that's one of my favorite parts. We started this whole blogging process with matching jammies for the boys when they were little. Honestly we were like, okay, if we have to be up a million times a night with wild babies let's keep them, like, super cute to help with how depressing chronic exhaustion is. The #pajamagrambattle was born. An this is my personal favorite holiday tradition: matching jammies. The kids are also so into it. They'll dig through their drawers to get matching tops and bottoms, and I have a guy who has dramatically appointed himself to be "outfit manager" and likes to pick the Christmas jammie theme of the day (we try to think his bossiness is just great agency and maybe one day he can use this power for good - I made the mistake the other day of saying "Who is in charge here?" and all the kids said his name. So. That's going well).
We're sailing through Fall and heading right into November which is a huge month for us. Our biggest kiddos adoption date (!!!) another birthday in our home, and the extended family lake retreat for Thanksgiving which starts our holiday season. Hanna Andersson partnered with us this year gifting all 5 of us (plus Big Bro for when he does his first upcoming sleepover!) their organic cotton family matching pajamas. Given this is my favorite tradition of the year it got me fully into the spirit. After spending a few years wondering if I would ever get another holiday with these beautiful kids I'm still sometimes adjusting to the idea that this is just our life forever now. So our nights now are freshly bathed kids, matching jammies, and that special celebration that comes from bedtime being so...close...so, so close. The holiday season is starting for us, so cookies, Polar Express, Radio City Music Hall in NYC, bedroom decorations, twinkle lights and jammies are ready to go.
*This post was sponsored by hanna Andersson