I’ve always loved the day after Thanksgiving because overnight the pumpkins are put back into storage and my family and I would start decorating our house for Christmas. We would watch our favorite movie, A Christmas Story, while we stayed up late into the night putting up garland in all of the rooms and decorating 5 trees throughout the house. With a birthday on Christmas Eve, we took Christmas very seriously in our house growing up. Even to this day, I get obsessed with Christmas traditions because it’s how we have always done things. It’s great to give and receive presents, but this year has taught me just how important having my family around during the holidays. The reason I love our traditions through December is because of the years of memories of spending time with my family. For all of those years that I worked retail, December was our busiest month but I would still give up sleep and work the closing shift so I could spend time with my family during the day.
This year looks different for everyone and Christmas is not going to be spared from this pandemic. My family and I are back to our weekly Sunday Zoom calls and we scheduled a different theme and activity each week to keep us connected during the holidays. I thought it would be fun to share some things my family and I are doing this month to make new traditions and to keep our favorite traditions going even in 2020.
1. Cookie Making On Zoom
One of my favorite things is Christmas cookies and my mom would always make a bunch of different kinds throughout the month. My brother and I would help with icing the sugar cookies and spend more time eating them! My mom, aunt, cousins, and I scheduled a cookie-making Zoom on Sunday and it was so much fun! We were all laughing over kitchen mishaps, my mom and dad made a cocktail while they waited for their cookies to bake and Jake and I spiked our orange juice with vodka and cranberry garnish.
2. Cookie Exchange
This year we learned that we really don’t need anything and if we did, we bought it for ourselves back in June. Our family is sending cookies instead of presents and honestly, this is the best decision ever! Jake had a bit too much fun ordering boxes, bows, and more to properly box up the cookies safely.
3. Gifts With Purpose
I donated money to the Arbor Day Foundation over the summer and got a letter from them recently about their campaign right now where you can buy trees in the rainforest in honor of someone. I thought this would be a great way to spend money on a good cause instead of clutter to wrap and send to someone for Christmas. My parents are donating money to Heifer International to buy a goat for a family in Africa instead of giving presents to extended family members.
4. Christmas House Tour
We decorated our house knowing that Jake and I would be the only ones to really see it and we were okay with that. For fun, my family thought it would be fun to do a house tour so we could see each other’s Christmas decorations. Without trying, my mom is going to win because she always goes all out for Christmas. With the scheduled virtual tour, I like that it gave us a push to all decorate and get it done with time left to enjoy it before Christmas.
5. Send Christmas Cards
Funny enough, this is the first year since moving to Philadelphia that I have Christmas cards with a photo all ready to ship before Christmas! We had to get creative since we wanted to take a photo with a timer of us in our home. While I got ready, Jake moved our couch and propped his phone up with a box so we could get the perfect shot. I was in charge of bribing Ed with treats! My family and I have loved sending snail mail to one another and I appreciate Christmas cards now more than ever.
6. Festive Cocktails
Earlier in the month, I sent Jake a ton of fun cocktails to try that I found on Pinterest and we have been having fun making them on the weekends. After work, we will enjoy dinner on the couch with a seasonal beer while we watch a Christmas movie and it’s been a nice treat.
7. Hot Chocolate Bar
Personally, I don’t like hot chocolate but I know Jake loves it. I went to Target and got hot chocolate mixes, mini marshmallows, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream so he can make himself a special treat. I also picked up a ton of Christmas themed chocolate for us (me).
8. Print Photos
It’s something I’ve been putting off for forever and I finally sat down and printed photos. Update picture frames, send some to family, or create a photo album. Going through photos of 2020 reminded me that there were good parts of this year too.
9. Call your mother
The day before Thanksgiving I broke down crying because I couldn’t find a pie pan. I was late to a family Zoom call because I was searching for the pan and when my mom called to see where I was, I told her about it in between sobs. It was so nice to have her to cry to even if was just over the phone but she was able to calm me down and told me she was having a hard time keeping it together too. When she told me that she was also struggling during this holiday season, I felt a sigh of relief go through my body because it wasn’t just me. Since then I have been Facetiming my mom to show her our tree and just calling to check-in. This time of year isn’t easy for anyone and it feels better to talk about it than pretending everything is fine.