New Mama Musings

Friday, December 23, 2005


I never gave a lot of thought to tradition before becoming a parent. Yes, I was a stepmom before Henry came along, but stepmoms aren't usually in charge of those kinds of things, if you know what I mean.

My own childhood was not particularly tradition-laden. Sure, I had a basket full of candy on Easter morning, went trick-or-treating on Halloween (wearing the same plastic store-bought ghost costume many years in a row), had a big meal on Thanksgiving and opened presents under the (artificial) tree Christmas morning. (Yeah, I know, boo-freaking-hoo.)

But honestly, those are pretty much no-brainer traditions. They're not anything I look back on fondly, saying, "When I was a kid, we always..." That's what I want for Henry.

While some traditions just evolve, I want to be proactive about introducing others. I have a lot of ideas for the holiday season (although I won't be able to implement all of them until Henry is a bit older):

  • Having a re-usable Advent calendar to mark the days leading up to Christmas.
  • Wrapping 24 holiday-themed children's books, putting them in a basket and having Henry pick one to read every night in December until the 25th.
  • Having Henry open one present Christmas Eve -- a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed and for opening presents in the following morning.
  • Limiting the number of presents, so Henry knows what to expect. (Nothing worse than hearing a kid say, "That's it?" on Christmas morning.) I like the "three gifts like baby Jesus got" idea (we aren't religious, but Jesus IS sort of why we throw this big party every year, after all) or the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" thing.
  • Buying an ornament for Henry every year (letting him pick it out as soon as he's able) so by the time he has a Christmas tree of his own, he'll have ornaments to put on it.
  • Having us watch the main four Christmas specials I grew up with (okay, maybe I do have a fond memory): The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
  • Continuing the one tradition my husband and I already have, which is going out to an ethnic restaurant every Christmas Eve.
Am I being too ambitious? A bit naive? Over-zealous? Maybe. But I don't think it's wrong to try to make your kid's childhood a happy one.

And if someday Henry rolls his eyes and says, "My mom always did THIS over the holidays," at least he'll have a memory worth repeating.


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