When I was a kid, my mom made the holidays magical. The smells of freshly baked cookies filled our home daily. Christmas records were all that she allowed us to play from the day after Thanksgiving until January 2. There were no exceptions. Christmas Eve meant a special gift of new pajamas so the jolly fat man in a red suit could find us. Christmas morning was homemade cookies, hot chocolate and lots of little presents under the tree.
As I grew up and had a family of my own, I couldn’t understand how my mom made the holidays as sacred as she did. I found myself running amok around town shopping, burning cookies, and forgetting what the season was all about.
A few years ago, she reminded me – the holidays were magical not because of the ‘stuff’ – but because of the ‘stuff’ we did with our family. Since then, holidays have changed as we learned to embrace the beautiful events and special moments embedded in our local backroads. We finally learned to slow down and breathe in the season instead of shop ourselves into a frantic holiday frenzy.
Some of our new traditions include:
- Attending the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony held outside the first weekend of December. The community comes together to listen to local choirs sing Christmas carols, dancers prance to holiday tunes and keep our hands warm with hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies.
- Host a Christmas Cookie decorating party for friends and neighbors. The cookies look nothing like what you might find on a cooking channel, but they taste amazing! The floors may be layered in frosting and sprinkles, the kids (and adults!) talk about how much fun it is throughout the year.
- Spend a day wandering around Union Square in San Francisco and take in the incredibly decorated store front windows. The displays are mesmerizing. One year we planned our outing during the Fairmont’s Gingerbread House Party. The architecture and art of the gingerbread houses are stunning.
- Holiday Dance-A-Thons. This is a family favorite. We blast Christmas music, snack on caramel corn and cookies and have a holiday dance-off. We are not trained dancers, but we have put on some spectacular performances.
The lesson is to keep the holidays simple. Find things you enjoy. Spend time with your family and friends laughing, playing and enjoying the true spirit of the holiday. Taking a minute to slow down, means you can finally remember the magic of the holidays.