As November rolls around we are officially in my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving, Christmas (and fall/winter in general) so make so deep down happy. The cooler weather, the cozy knits and blankets, the crackling fires, the warm drinks… it all makes my soul content. One of my favorite things is finding a new tradition. It has to be something really special to us to do it every year and it’s so fun to discover them. Our traditions so far are:
Every year growing up, we always had a chocolate advent calendars. We would get so excited when December 1strolled around. Every morning we would get to open a little numbered window to reveal a chocolate. My mom still to this day buys me one and now I buy them for my kids. It makes each day leading up to Christmas a little more special.
Eagleville for Thanksgiving
For many years now I have spent Thanksgiving in Surprise Valley, Northern California. It’s a beautiful part of the world, just wide-open country land, majestic, snowy mountains, and hot springs. My mom owns a few properties up there in a town called Eagleville so for the past 15 years we have all traveled up for a week of family fun. We sled, make snowmen, soak in the springs, drink Hot Toddies, play dress-up. It’s SO much fun and has become a really special trip for the kids as they get to have the entire family under one roof.
While we are up there we also purchase our tree permit for the Modoc National Forest, which allows us (with several regulations) to chop down and bring back a tree of our own. The kids love picking out the perfect tree, one year we even had one covered in pinecones!
One of our funniest traditions is the Christmas Pickle. Supposedly, it’s an old German tradition where a pickle was the last ornament hung on the tree and then the first child to find it received an extra present. There are also reports though that that story is a myth so who knows. Either way, we always make sure to hang a pickle on the Christmas tree for the kids to find.
Chinese Takeout for Christmas Eve
Every Christmas Eve since we’ve had children, Wiley and I would order Chinese to eat while we put together the kids’ after they go to sleep. It’s a nice way to keep the kitchen clean for Christmas morning and we love being able to concentrate on making the entire living room magical for the kids when they wake up. Eating Chinese food in my pajamas while wrapping presents is one of my favorite traditions of all time.
Christmas Eve Box
The Christmas Eve Box is one of our newer traditions. Growing up, my parents always let us pick one present to open on Christmas Eve. I wanted to do something fun for the kids on Christmas Eve and came across this idea online. You fill a little box or crate with fun gifts for Christmas Eve. We fill up one crate for the kids with matching jammies, a classic Christmas movie, a couple Christmas/Winter books to read, a small wrapped toy each, fancy marshmallows, Cadbury Drinking Chocolate, and popcorn. It’s sets them up for a lovely Christmas Eve.
Pajama Pancake Breakfast
Every morning after the wrapping paper massacre has been cleaned up my family arrives for a Pajama Pancake Breakfast. We toast with Mimosas and Coffee Bailey’s and devour a giant spread of veggie sausages, mixed berries and pancakes. It’s so much fun to hang with them all and exchange gifts while still in our pajamas. Wiley and I have been hosting this for years and it’s always so much fun for us.
Oma and Opa’s Christmas Day
For Christmas Dinner, we always head to my Oma and Opa’s House in Beverly Hills for some home cooked food (something I have been doing since I was a baby). For this occasion we dress up, which is a nice change from the pajamas we wear the entire day. My Oma is one of the best cooks and hosts. She always makes a heavenly Bouillabaisse, a tomato broth and seafood stew, served with crusty bread, cucumber salad, German Beet Salad, and a fresh garden salad. It’s one of my favorite meals of all time. Another classic that she makes are Lebkuchen (a traditional German baked Christmas cookie made with nuts and spices with a wafer base and a brushed with chocolate – sublime). I look forward to them every year and still have a VERY hard time sharing them. Their dinner is such a perfect way to end Christmas and I will always cherish it.