December Celebrations Across America
This month, on A Cookie Before Dinner, we’re featuring four guests who all have a different take on navigating the holiday season. Some families celebrate Christmas without Santa. Some families blend holiday traditions. Some families celebrate Hanukkah, while others have interfaith families that celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. However we celebrate, one thing is for sure– we celebrate love and joy with our families and friends.
No Santa Required
In the eleven years of having kids, we have never done Santa. Sometimes Grandma and Grandpa jokingly explain that a gift is from the jolly ol’ elf, but my little ones–and not so little ones–just roll with it.
“If you say so, Grandpa.”
We don’t celebrate the holiday with Kris Kringle, but we don’t ban him from our home either. We just incorporate Santa into our festivities.
Here are five ways we celebrate Christmas.
Some people start this on Black Friday, but we are never home on the day after Thanksgiving. Instead we start our Advent Season on December 1st by using a couple different calendars.
One we made three years ago at the American Swedish Institute here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a fun project everyone participated in. We decorated 24 little paper bags, and each year we hang them up in our window. In each bag we place a piece of our nativity. Every day we open one bag until the nativity is complete.
Last year, I started a Family Adventure Advent Calendar. Each day from December 1-December 25, you receive an envelope in the mailbox with two new adventures: one to do around town and one to do at home.
I love books, especially picture books. And we are acquiring a large assortment of books in our home. What we don’t have is supplemented by the library (one of my favorite places in the world). We love to turn on the the Christmas tree lights, turn off the overhead lights, and listen to stories.
This is the one thing that stresses me out. I do not enjoy decorating, let alone baking cookies, with my kids. But I can’t get out of it because each one of my kids asks to bake cookies for Christmas. So I grit my teeth and endure it.
If we make enough, we deliver them to our neighbors on a decorated plate or in a fancy bag. One year, I accidentally quadrupled a recipe. I had done my math completely wrong and made 144 sugar cookies to decorate. We had plenty of cookies to give to teachers and neighbors that year.
I can’t think of a more wonderful way to celebrate the season than by curling up on the couch with some cocoa and cookies watching White Christmas or A Charlie Brown Christmas. Movies like The Santa Clause or Elf or Polar Express are just as festive to watch as It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol.
Not everything is a lesson. Some things are just for fun. And while we watch these Christmas movies, our whole family knows them as delightful stories.
I love Christmas music, and we take full advantage of it during the holiday season. We sing the traditional carols. We also listen to different orchestras and choirs. We pull out our Christmas stash and pull up anything and everything in iTunes and Spotify.
We sing “Silent Night” around our Christmas tree. We crank up the radio for “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” in the car. We belt out “Joy to the World” in church. We whistle “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.” Whatever brings us joy in this season we do.
That’s how we celebrate Christmas. No Santa Claus required. And we have a BLAST!
Gianna lives in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area in Minnesota with her four kids and her incredibly amazing husband. As one of three moms who created Family Fun Twin Cities, she spends her time connecting with local businesses and clients, homeschooling her 6th grader, and volunteering at church and the elementary school for her other three kids.
Family Fun Twin Cities is a site dedicated to helping families go do fun stuff around town together.