Last Christmas, we were fortunate enough to travel back to Kentucky to spend the holiday with my mom, sisters, and Mamaw. Unfortunately, not everyone in the Army can take leave all at the same time; since last year was our turn to travel for Christmas, that means we’ll be staying put in Iowa this year. (But, we will get to travel to see friends for New Year’s, so we’ll still get to travel this winter!) Naturally, I will miss being with my “original” family, but Andy is my family now 🙂 Even though we’ve been married for nearly 3 years, this is the first year we’re really being intentional about setting our own traditions. I’m really excited to see these traditions change as the Army moves us throughout the years (I would not complain if I spent Christmas on a beach!) and as we eventually have little Cumminses to celebrate with.
Set up our nativity display in the front yard. Setting up the nativity display was my favorite thing about Christmas as a child, and I was thrilled when my mom gifted it to me for my first married Christmas. There’s just one problem: since our rental house doesn’t have a back door, I always let our dog, Lily, out the front door to go potty. So I guess you could say our front yard is “authentic” with manure, haha! I’m still planning to set up my display, but fingers crossed she doesn’t tinkle on baby Jesus! 😉
Attend the church’s annual Christmas play. When I was younger, my family’s church had an annual Christmas play and for years, I participated in it. (I couldn’t wait to grow up and be Mary, haha!) I was thrilled to learn that our new church home in Iowa also has a Christmas play, although theirs is held at the end of November/beginning of December.
Decorate our house for Christmas. I’ve been itching to decorate for the holidays since the beginning of November, but have been (not so) patiently waiting until my husband returned home to do so… partly because I don’t want him to miss out and partly because I need him to lug the heavy boxes up the stairs!
Buy an ornament to signify 2018. For the past few years, Andy and I always had a special date night in Santa Claus, Indiana where we would visit the Christmas shops and buy an ornament that summarized the year. Obviously, visiting Santa Claus, Indiana is not an option this year, now that we live 10 hours away. However, we’re just a few hours from the Mall of America, and conveniently, we will be in that area of Minneapolis for the military ball.
Read a Christmas devotional every evening. This is also a tradition that I like to participate in with Andy, so I’m going to skip the first few days until he’s home again. Let’s be honest, I tend to miss a few evenings here and there and have to frantically catch up before the 25th!
Enjoy eating chocolate from an Advent calendar. My Papaw’s friend’s wife was from Germany and every year she would mail us Advent calendars straight from Germany. When she passed away, the tradition ended…. until I discovered Advent calendars at LifeWay Christian store and realized, Duh Bailey! They still exist; you just have to look for them! When we lived on-post, I bought mine at the commissary; this year I’m hoping Aldi has them!
Mail out Christmas cards by December 15th. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up and get married so I could mail out Christmas cards. I mean, if you mail out Christmas cards, you’re a real adult, right? 😉
Go to the “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” exhibit at Music Man Square. As I said before, our Christmas traditions will change every few years as the Army moves us around. Right now, we are stationed in Mason City, Iowa — the hometown of Meredith Willson, composer of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and the famous musical The Music Man. I’ve heard the Music Man Square is decorated for Christmas; I’ve actually never been to the Music Man Square, so what better way to get 2 birds with one stone than to see it at Christmas?
Seeing the Canadian-Pacific Holiday Train last year
Drive around and look at the Christmas lights. I think Christmas lights are more of a Southern tradition (because it is too dang cold to hang lights at 15 degrees!) but I’d still like to peek around the area and see if there are any decorated houses.
Make sugar cookies. The only sugar cookies I’ve made before are the pre-packaged Pillsbury ones, but a coworker recently brought some homemade sugar cookies with homemade icing to work and oh my goodness, what have I been missing out on my entire life?! So, I’d love to give homemade real sugar cookies a try.
Have a Christmas movie night (featuring A Christmas Story and cheesy Hallmark movies.) I might have to celebrate this tradition while Andy is still away 😉 As the popular meme says, even though they all have the same plot, I’m still going to act surprised and enjoy the heck out of them!
Wear matching Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve. I have been trying to talk Andy into matching jammies for years but he’s always resisted the idea. He also prefers to open gifts on Christmas Eve, so there’s a good chance that could be one of his gifts 😉
Make a special breakfast on Christmas morning. I’m not normally a breakfast eater, but what better day to get out of my normal routine than a holiday?
Read Luke 2 while eating our Christmas breakfast and wearing our Christmas jammies. As cliche as it sounds, I want my family to focus on the reason for the season.
Serve Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter. For years, Christmas has always felt “meh” after the presents are opened. I was searching for something special to do on Christmas Day when I read Erica’s blog post that mentioned how her relatives serve dinner at a homeless shelter every Christmas Day. I’d like to see if there is something similar so that Andy and I can spend the evening giving back to others.
In reviewing this list, I realized how ambitious is it! December a busy month for many people and we’re no exception: I’ll be finishing my Managerial Accounting class and then we have a military ball to attend out-of-town. Not to mention, my husband is still gone for the first bit of December so I’ll be getting a late start this year. I know I most likely won’t achieve every item on my list, and that’s okay! Grace, not perfection.
What are your favorite activities for the holidays?