Sometimes the best Christmas traditions are the inexpensive ones. There is a lot to be said for keeping it simple.
If your family celebrate Christmas then chances are you have a whole host of Christmas traditions, even if you didn't know it. This time of year may come with certain rituals and check-points that overtime have simply become a given. As it turns out, for your children these traditions are really important.
In my family we had a couple of different Christmas traditions. The Late Late Toy Show was always a big event in our house. We would gather around the TV, gorge on too many treats and, much to Santa's dismay, begin listing out the many things that we were DEFINITELY getting for Christmas. This tradition lives on even in my adult years. The television has gotten bigger, we can fast forward through the ads and matching pyjamas have now become standard but he foundation of the tradition lives on. It's comforting, it makes us feel excited (even as adults) and in our case it marks the official beginning of the Christmas festivities.
When I look back on my childhood I can see so clearly that we actually had many Christmas traditions. Some I loved a little bit less than others. I shudder at the thought of my mother declaring that the "big Christmas clean" was approaching. When I saw her washing skirting boards I new she was working up to it. I was slightly more excited about "the big Christmas shop". You know, that massive food shop where the trolley is overflowing and houses full on crates of lemonade and several boxes of "just in case" chocolates and biscuits.
These Christmas traditions bring back so many wonderful memories of my childhood. I realize now that a huge part of it was that feeling of security. Some Christmases were more full of stress than others. Some were steeped in grief while others involved uncomfortable new arrangements, people and places. Our Christmas traditions continued though and it meant that in the midst of change we always came.... home.
Now that I am a parent I find it surreal to catch myself repeating those same traditions while making our own ones at the same time. My husband has traditions he was used to (although naturally going to the pub on Christmas Eve was nipped in the bud when our children came along) and I have mine. Together we've had to find a way to merge both of those worlds. What has resulted is a whole plethora of new ones and its kind of beautiful. A bit of him, a bit of me (OK, slightly more of me) and a whole lot of us.
There are so many benefits to traditions and rituals in general. It's no secret that children thrive on routine and knowing what to expect from each day and experience. Simple markers and check-points can help them to feel secure and safe in the knowledge that the familiar is never too far away.
Christmas traditions are a lovely way to transport everyone to a place where magic and excitement are plentiful. It affords children (and adults) the opportunity to escape the mundane and banal. In some homes traditions may revolve around food and crafts and in others it might be days out, social occasions (I do love a panto) and card-writing.
Sometimes the best Christmas traditions are the inexpensive ones. There is a lot to be said for keeping it simple. That's often where the magic lives.