Christmas Delight

A blog about the joy I find in all things Christmas

Christmas Activites & Such

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This is me exactly! (photo: Pinterest)

Top Ten Things to Do During the Christmas Season
(in no particular order)

1. Go see a movie ON Christmas, there’s no one at the theaters & it’s a fun thing to do with your entire family.

2. If you live in Dallas, go see the Galleria Christmas tree–95 foot tall, 10,000 ornaments, and 250,000 lights. That’s MY kind of Christmas tree, did I mention that I love that everything, including Christmas trees, really is bigger in Texas?! Or if you live in the Austin area, venture out to Marble Falls and see the Christmas Walkway of Lights.

3. Take a nap!!!

My sister Claire (under the blanket), me, and then my cousin Rebekah asleep after waking up too early for stockings on Christmas 2010. (photo: Randy Gerdes)

4. Decide to exchange hand-made gifts with a best friend or family member. Come on ladies, you know you’ve been wanting to try out like 57 things from Pinterest (I linked to mine in case you’re lacking inspiration)–this is the perfect opportunity to do so!

5. Bake/cook together as a family! Whether this is Christmas cookies or a gingerbread house or trying a new recipe–spend time in the kitchen together!

6. Take family pictures! It’s such a tradition for my Papaw to set up his tripod and get us all arranged (which of course took HOURS…or at least seemed that way because it was always right before presents!) and then he would run and join us! Here’s a couple from the past few years:

Last year’s grandparents& grandkids shot! Somehow we’re missing some of the grandkids… (photo: Randy Gerdes)

Once again, we’re missing some of the grandkids! Attempting to get us all to smile at once Christmas 2006. (photo: Randy Gerdes)

Corralling the whole clan for the family picture back in 2007–don’t we all look just thrilled?! (photo: Randy Gerdes)

7. Go get a Starbucks seasonal drink!

8. Listen to Christmas music!!! My all-time favorite albums are by Point of Grace and Michael W. Smith.

9. Donate some of your time and pocket book to charity. My personal favorite is Operation Christmas Child where you select an age range and gender for a child and then fill a shoe box with all kinds of Christmas gifts, then the box is sent around the world. For many recipients of the shoe boxes, that will be their only Christmas gift. It’s an especially good fit for families  with young children who want to get involved with a charity during the holidays but have constraints on the activities they can participate in that are child-friendly. Operation Christmas Child is an easy thing to explain to little kids and is also easy for them to be part of (they get to pick out toys!).

Children receiving their shoe boxes filled with Christmas gifts. (photo: Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child)

10. Reflect on the year, preferably in front of your lit Christmas tree. (The most peaceful, quiet place in the world, in my opinion. I feel a little bit of magic and know that everything will be okay when I sit in front of mine.) One of the things my mom always does that I love, so I’ve started doing as well, is taking time to journal about the year, the good things, the bad things, what I’ve learned. Now no, I don’t normally journal–I just don’t have the time most days. But to take time to slow down in the midst of the holiday bustle and just breathe, reflect, and feel grateful for the year? That’s an incredible thing.
My mom also likes to pick a one word “theme” for the new year around Christmas, something she wants to try to focus on in the next year. My word this year was “Brave” and I think it’s worked out pretty well. We’ll see what 2013 will hold!

11. Okay so I couldn’t narrow it down to ten! Count down with a nativity calendar:

You put up one character each day of December, and baby Jesus is the last character put up on Christmas Eve. One of my Christmas gifts my senior year–because I wanted my own as my mom has had one I’ve been in charge of all my life! (photo: Alissa Hale)

Tradition Spotlight-MY FAMILY 🙂

The patriarch & matriarch of my family, Grammie & Papaw, opening their stocking, affectionately known as “Clubfoot” (sitting in Grammie’s lap) because it tends to expand every year. They always have overflow–which is the pair of PJs in Papaw’s lap tied into an overflow bag! (photo: Randy Gerdes)

It’s hard for me to even know where to start describing all the traditions I have in my family. As I’ve sat here writing I keep thinking “oh and I can’t forget this one, or that one, or or or!” Traditions are so important my mom wrote her dissertation years ago on the impact family traditions have on the level of cohesiveness of a family. I wouldn’t advise actually reading it, but essentially-they matter. And that’s why I love my family!

First of all, we open stockings, from youngest to oldest the moment everyone stumbles out of bed. Somehow, stockings always manage to be filled with inside jokes & goodies from throughout the year-lots of “OH MY GOSH I REMEMBER THIS AND I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU GOT IT FOR ME!” moments.

As y’all could tell by my recipes post, cooking is a HUGE deal in my family. It’s a matter of pride for the women in my family that we spend all day on Christmas Eve cooking & all day Christmas (when we’re not opening stockings/gifts or at a movie) cooking. We normally do ham or beef tenderloin for a meat and the sides always rotate year to year. We also always make a plate of dessert treats for my neighbors and then go door-to-door caroling as we deliver treats! (This is what happens when you grow up Church of Christ, you use any excuse to sing!)

One of my absolute favorite traditions (it’s so hard to choose!!) is getting an ornament both from my parents and my grandparents this year. They always did this with the goal in mind that once I moved out of the house, I’d have enough ornaments for my own Christmas tree. Sure enough, no one is surprised that as this is my first year in an apartment, I went out and bought a 7.5 foot Christmas tree!

Alissa’s first own Christmas tree, put up November 1, 2012. You can see the cradle toward the top of the tree that says “Baby’s First Christmas” that was the first ornament I ever received from my parents along with all the ornaments! (photo: Alissa Hale)

Two things incredibly unique to my family that we do:

1. The mysteriously wrapped gift, addressed to someone but not from anyone. Beware! It’s probably the sixty year old cookies! (Yes, you read that right!) So very long story short, when my Papaw’s dad was taking him to college, they stopped and bought a box of cookies–but they were incredibly stale so they threw them away. Which, of course, was the last Papaw thought about it until that Christmas when he received a mysterious present from under tree. Finally as he unwrapped it, he realized what it was! Papaw’s dad had gone back and gotten the cookie box out of the trash and kept it until that Christmas.

Now, sixty years later, the cookies are “gifted” to someone each year! And especially if you’ve just married into our family, beware, we tend to welcome new-comers by initiating them into the cookie tradition!

2.  As Christmas is the only time my entire family is gathered, it is often the time the oil lamp is brought out. The “lighting of the lamp” only happens for a very special announcement-a move (when my mom was a kid, my grandparents lit the lamp to tell their kids they were moving from Wisconsin to Texas) or an addition to the family, such as when my mom remarried and we welcomed my step-dad and step-siblings into the family or when my cousin Kim had us light the lamp to tell us she was pregnant with her first child–the first great grandchild!

The lighting of the lamp has brought sorrow and joy, but always brings us closer together as a family.

To me that’s what Christmas will always be, a chance to grow closer as a family.

PS-Only 48 more days until Christmas!!

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Author: Natalie Alissa Hale

I'm a PR student at The University of Texas at Austin and an assistant event coordinator. Christmas is the only time I get to see my entire family all year, so it's always been my favorite time of year. I start counting down from 100 days (Sept. 16) every year! My family traditions mean the world to me. These are a collection of both my and others' traditions as well as other fun topics surrounding Christmas! View my "About" page to learn more!

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