Christmas traditions

The kids are growing up and slowly starting to understand the concept of gifts (though, so far if you speak their internal language, the gifts should be called “receifts”).  Christmas season is a great time for them to learn what GIVING is all about.

My husband and I started some Christmas traditions back when we were dating.  To begin with, we choose a tree together, as a family.  Dave made a big deal about it on our first Christmas, now he is stuck with a dilemma – how to transport himself, his wife, two kids (with car seats) and a tree in one little Prius.

Secondly, we pick up a tree in the middle of December (not right after Thanksgiving), so it still alive on Russian Orthodox Christmas (January 7th).

We also like to drive to the Santa Farm in Half Moon Bay, and chop our own tree. 

We satisfy our son’s obsession with trains by getting him rides and taking him on Christmas train displays if we find any in the area.  This year his little sister is probably going to be joining him.

As far as presents go, each kid gets one from us, plus there are typically some boxes with clothes and toys from our Iowan family.

Lil' Jem chopping down a tree last year

Because I have been a stay-at-home-mom since our son was born, our traditions of consumerism went down dramatically and from the entire stock Bed Bath & Beyond decreased to just a few things we REALLY REALLY want. 

This year we decided to start a tradition of giving.  We bought some warm clothes for a boy and a girl our children’s ages, and going to make a trip to a fire station to donate them.  Both kids ADMIRE firefighters, so it’s going to be a very pleasant trip for them, thus our giving could be fun.

So far, we think this is enough for two kids under 3.  However, we are very interested in finding out what other people do.  What are your family traditions?


  1. veraffedorova says:

    The mommy group I belong to recently had a few suggestions on this subject:
    -everyone in the extended family buys a gift for a family in need, then everyone comes together to wrap them
    -volunteering at the local Food Bank for kids 4 and older
    -extended family draws names and each adult only buys a gift for one other person
    – Bake sales at schools
    – deliveryting food to various accepting organizations on Christamas morning

  2. barsukovanelly says:

    I think it’s a good tradition is to be creating miningful gifts instead of relying on your credit cards – take your family members on a beatiful hike (if you are a hiker), write or read a poem that inspired you (if you write or read), frame one of your favorite photographs (if camera is your best friend).

  3. Come Due Maiali says:

    Hi Nastya,

    Our family holiday traditions (mine and Jeff’s, we have no kids) include celebrating New Year’s Moscow-time, complete with Champagne, “vinaigrette”, pierozhki, etc., etc., and watching what my husband calls “The steambath movie” (that would be “S l’ogkim parom!”).
    Thanks for visiting my blog; hope you can stop by again sometime.
    Best, Natasha

    • Anastasia says:

      I love that movie! Though, after reading some Tolstoy and watching “The Barber of Siberia” my husband is determined there are no happy movies or writers in Russia… On rare occasions, when main character dies in the end of an American flick, my man immediately starts teasing me that the movie probably had Russian director, or KGB took over the script…
      P.S. Love your blog!

  4. Kate says:

    I’m an only child, so there are no longer any children in my immediate family but I am so grateful to my parents, particularly my Mum, for ensuring that the magic never died for me. It changed of course but it never died and never stopped being as special. One tradition that comes straight out of my childhood is my Mum reading “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to me on Christmas Eve. I’m well into my twenties, but my Mum still reads that to me every year.

    There’s just so much that I love about Christmas, but I think it’s the cooking I like best. It isn’t just cooking for ourselves, there are several people that we make Christmas Cakes and Christmas Puddings for and we know that these people genuinely look forward to receiving them. We enjoy making them and it’s nice to think that they’re going to make someone smile, that someone’s going to enjoy what we’ve made. Then there’s our tradition of trying something new every year. Last year, it was cookie mixes in jars, we had loads of fun with those. The year before that, we tried making gingerbread houses. That was an unmitigated disaster and I don’t think we’ll be trying that again in a hurry. And one year, Mum decided that instead of buying all our Christmas chocolates, we should try making our own too. I can’t imagine not doing that now. :)

    If I ever have children, I want to give them what my parents have given me. I want Christmas to be special for them always, not just when they’re young.

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