Oh you know, it is half way through January so why not recap Christmas? #It’sNeverTooLate.
One of my favorite things about Mandy is the emphasis she places on tradition. A recurring theme of our family goals each year is maintaining our current traditions and creating new ones. No time during the year are these more apparent than around Christmas. Just like every family, we have tons of things we keep every year to celebrate the holiday season.
Our kick off to Christmas each year is called Shevolpthamalooza. That already tongue-twisting name will just continue to get more difficult as our siblings get married. The day after Thanksgiving all of our siblings come over to play games and spend the night. I love this time to enjoy time with just the “kids”. We have done everything from homemade pizzas to Settlers of Catan to painting canvases. This event was the beginning of the Celebrity game that our high school students love to play. Eventually, as the families grow with kids, we hope to turn this day into a Family Olympics!
Mandy’s German family gave us this early December celebration. On the night of the 5th every year, you place your shoes outside and St. Nick comes to fill them with small goodies. The Sheppard’s are serious about St. Nick and gifts have been delivered wherever you can imagine. In fact one year, Mandy got a kettlebell in her shoes in New York City while we were on vacation!
Growing up, Melissa and I were the typical kids who woke up somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:47AM to begin Christmas morning. We would walk to my parents’ room, wake them up, and be told to wait until they had everything ready. For the next hour (or two or three), we would hear my Dad downstairs making coffee, building a fire, doing dishes – whatever he could to give my Mom the most time to sleep possible. During these long waits, my sister and I created the tradition of getting the Bible and reading the story of Jesus’ birth to each other. Now thanks to technology, we FaceTime each year and I read Luke 2 before either of our families dive into the things under the tree. This year we created a new traditions where we all had cinnamon rolls that we could enjoy on Christmas morning at our various homes so that we could feel like we were together even when we were apart.
Mandy’s family celebrates Advent with a special wreath at each table with candles. A few years ago, they had to replace the Christmas tree that was their Grandmother’s and Mommy used the branches from that tree to make Advent wreaths for each of us. Every Sunday leading up to Christmas, we light one additional candle in the wreath and gather around the table for a family dinner. On Christmas Eve, we eat the traditional weinerschnitzel, German potato salad, and sauerkraut. Once everyone sits and all of the candles are lit, no one is allowed to get up from the table for any reason until everyone is finished and the candles have been blown out. We always have to use the restroom and be sure to grab the ketchup beforehand!
Anyone who knows Mandy knows that date nights are just about her favorite thing in the entire world. Christmas is no exception so we created a day just for ourselves. With as many fantastic Christmas celebrations as we have with family, we always take a day out to spend just the two of us. I’ll get up and cook a big brunch where I can try out my fanciest breakfast recipes. We always go see a movie and go grab dinner at a new restaurant. It’s a special time to spend with each other, recharge our quality time tanks, and celebrate our favorite holiday together.
These are just a few of our traditions. What traditions do you do with your family during the Christmas season?