My Favorite Holiday Traditions

I'm a sucker for the holidays. Who isn't, really? As soon as it's appropriate (i.e., Thanksgiving or shortly after), I've got the house decorated and the tree up.

Bryan and I have a new tradition of buying Xmas ornaments from all the places we visit!

This year's tree.

 Plus, say what you will about Chicago summers, I happen to not mind the Chicago winters - at least in the first months. Although frigid and freezing and windy and miserable, it is also impossibly beautiful during the holiday season. Chicago residents deck their homes, bars and restaurants deck their halls and the streets and parks go all out with lights galore. (see previous post about zoo lights).

Now that we're married, we've been able to start some of our own traditions, which I love. But I also like to look back and reflect on some of the holiday traditions that have given me such wonderful memories in years past, and that I hope to pass on to our own children someday. Here they are:

1. Making Cookies

  Last year's cookie making. 

Everyone knows the tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and I LOVED making Christmas cookies. My mom made the dough and frosting from scratch, and we had tins on tins on tins of cookie cutters, sprinkles, red hots, you name it. Last year, I forced everyone to bring back this tradition with the little ones in the family. While still an amazing tradition that I'd do every year, it's much more labor insensive than I remember. WORTH IT!

2. Christmas Eve
I think I love Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, my dad made homemade spaghetti, and we were allowed to open presents from our relatives. I love the memory of leaving letters and treats for Santa when we got home from midnight mass. When cousins, aunts and uncles were there, we'd sit around the Piano and sing Christmas songs. It was just happy, ya know? And now, as adults, we still eat Dad's spaghetti, go to church and open gifts on Christmas Eve. Looking so forward to it next week!

3. Advent Calendars
We always had the coolest advent calendars. My uncle Jesse sent them to us, along with these ceramic Santa boots that served as a holder for all of this delicious candy he'd send. It was always a challenge with my sisters on who would get to open the calendar that day.

4. Christmas Light Cruising
I can't remember what night of the holidays we did this, but my family and I piled in the car and drove around Iowa City looking at everyone's Christmas lights. If you know me, you know I LOVE Christmas decorations and lights in particular. They just make everything festive and happy happy happy!

5. Decorating the Tree
I've said it like, three times now, but in case you didn't quite get it, I LOVE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. Our parents get us Christmas ornaments every year, and my mom would keep my sisters and my ornaments in separate boxes. Every year I'd open that box and I remember it was like the most familiar and happy feeling seeing those ornaments. I need to get those back from mom!


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