early christmas for you!

Thank you to all of you who entered my first contest to win an HP Printer and HP Photo Books. My mom and Uncle Lee poured over the entries and choose two holiday traditions they enjoyed the most. Mrs. Christmas herself, my mother who has had lights up since November 1st, was impressed! Thanks for all the ideas on traditions to start...might have to try some of these out for our family.

Drum roll...

First place (HP Printer and Photo Books) goes to April whose traditions are...

The Christmas Tree:

We always go out the day after Thanksgiving to get the tree. Has to be fresh. Then we bring it home and decorate it that night while listening to Christmas music or watching a Christmas movie.

The Ornaments:
We try to buy a new family ornament once a year to highlight the event that had the biggest impact on the family that year. Like last year it was a fire truck, due to the fire. Not a pleasant event, but an event that surely impacted the rest of the year.

We also buy an ornament for each boy. Usually represents something they were interested in that year. When they get older and move away (Sob) we will give them their collection of ornaments for their own tree.

The pickle. This is actually a German tradition but I love it. On Christmas eve Santa hides a pickle ornament on the tree and whoever finds it on Christmas morning gets to open the first gift and gets a special little gift.

Elf Blue Foot
Elf Blue Foot is one of Santa's special helpers. He travels to different, random homes on Christmas eve dropping off Christmas presents for children on Santa's list. He always drops off new pjs, to make sure the pictures on Christmas morning are unforgettable, and a holiday book to read at bedtime. He usually leaves them at the door sometime during the evening, and then hurries along, like magic, to deliver the rest of his gifts. The reason why his name is Elf Blue Foot, is because he doesn't have reindeer like Santa (they are busy resting up for their big trip later in the evening) and has to make his travels on foot, so by the time he gets back to the north pole his feet are blue because of the cold. Luckily he doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he thinks of them as his trophy feet, proof that he's one of Santa's extra special helpers.

And second place (HP Photo Books) goes to Never that Easy and here's some of her traditions:

When we were younger, there used to be a children's mass at 4 on Christmas Eve. For as long as I could remember, my family - brother & sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles & cousins - would all trek across the street to the mass (and when we got old enough, we were in the pageants as well). Afterwards, we would all head over to my grandmother's house, and find a note from Santa, telling us that he'd stopped by to do his final naughty/nice check on us, and was glad to find us all in church. He'd be back later, once we were all asleep, he'd say... but he'd left us just one thing to hold us over till the morning. Coming back and finding that letter - or sitting in church doing my best not to fidget too much or to think about the fact that the letter would be there when we got back - those are some of my favorite Christmas memories.

Of course, an unthinking aunt ruined that for me a year or two earlier than necessary, when she left the drafts of Santa's notes in my notebook - along with her shopping list.

We're all old enough now, and my brother and oldest sister have kids of their own, so we're trying out new traditions: the gingerbread house baking was a no-go, as was my Dad's attempt at an Italian Christmas Eve (all fish - ick!), but we've managed to eek out a few so far. Christmas stockings at Grammy's house - for & from everyone; a Christmas Kelly for each of the girls (or boys, when they wanted them); and a real live Christmas tree... no matter what. (Fake tree = not feeling like Christmas, at least to us.)

I'm looking forward to building more traditions, as time goes on. Especially when I have kids of my own.