Passing Old Christmas Traditions to New Generations

2 12 2012

As I have talked about in previous posts, I plan on making this Christmas all about giving, spending valuable time with family & good friends, and traditions.

I have talked about Making New Traditions including $5.00 Family Exchange3 Ways to Spark the Spirit on a Budget, and how to make your own Homemade Christmas Ornaments and Advent Calendars.

While on our annual Christmas Tree hunt last weekend, my boys became increasingly curious as to why we would even want a Christmas Tree in our living room. To be very honest, I really had no idea how to answer their probing questions of why this has become such a normal tradition.

Again, while my family and I were unpacking our Christmas decorations this weekend I noticed there are several “Old Christmas Traditions” that we participate in and I really had no idea where they originated from.  In order for us to pass these traditions to future generation, I decided to do some research to be able to provide information about them, that way I can teach them to my children.

Follow along with me to learn about why we do all the little things we do that contribute to making the Christmas season so magical.

The Christmas Tree


Also known as the “Yule-tree”, this tradition has been traced back to Germany since the 15th century.     “The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas Lights. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes.An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity”. Wikipedia- Christmas Trees

How did this tradition begin? “Well, the story goes that St. Boniface, who is credited for converting many Germans to Christianity, came across a group of Pagans worshiping an oak tree. This made him angry, so he cut the tree down. What sprouted up in its place was a fir tree. St. Boniface took this as a sign from God, and it has been a Christian symbol ever since. Also, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, he gave a tree to his wife for Christmas, since it was a custom in his homeland of Germany”.  Kidzworld

Christmas Stockings and Saint Nicholas


“While there are no written records of the origin of the Christmas Stocking, there are popular legends that attempt to tell the history of this Christmas tradition. One such legend has several variations, but the following is a good example: Very long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death”.

Saint Nicholas was passing through when he heard the villagers talking about the girls. St. Nicholas wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn’t accept charity. He decided to help in secret. He waited until it was night and crept through the chimney”.

“He had three bags of gold coins with him, one for each girl. As he was looking for a place to keep those three bags, he noticed stockings of the three girls that were hung over the mantelpiece for drying. He put one bag in each stocking and off he went. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning, they found the bags of gold coins and were of course, overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after”.

“This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so, St. Nicholas is a gift-giver”. Wikipedia-Christmas Stocking

History of Candy Canes

candy cane

“Around the seventeenth century, European-Christians began to adopt the use of Christmas trees as part of their Christmas celebrations. They made special decorations for their trees from foods like cookies and sugar-stick candy. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff. The all-white candy canes were given out to children during the long-winded nativity services”.

How did they get their stripe?  “About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all-white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites”.  More info Here

Story of the Mistletoe

images (1)

“Mistletoe has been getting people locking lips together for a long time. The Celts used to believe that mistletoe was a powerful charm against lighting, thunder and other scary things. The Norse thought the plant was a symbol of peace. Warriors who met under the green leaves would not fight and warring couples would “kiss and make up”. Other European cultures believed that mistletoe aided in fertility and was an aphrodisiac – which explains why peeps become so smitten underneath it”! Kidzworld

Christmas Cards


“The first Christmas was made by Sir Henry Cole who worked for the British Postal Service. He hired an artist to create three scenes – in the middle a family sat around the dinner table, on the left, the hungry were being fed and on the right, the needy were being clothed. The familiar greeting “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You” was written on it..  English School Boys also wrote greeting cards to their parents as proof of how well they could write”.  Kidzworld

So I have provided a bunch of information regarding how Old Christmas Traditions began.  Now when the little munchkins ask those puzzling questions it will be easier to answer them.

Remember, these holidays will be the memories your children will remember for the rest of their lives.  This is their reality! Even if you are on a budget many of these traditions just take time, love, and creativity.

Have fun this holiday season and make them as magical as possible!

What are some old traditions you like to enjoy with your family?


The Spirit of Giving- $5.00 Family Exchange

24 11 2012

In the past few posts I have talked about the nearing of Christmas and the family traditions I hope to pass on to my children and their children for years to come.  I have mentioned our Annual Christmas Tree Hunt (which we will be doing tomorrow), Making Homemade Ornaments (check), Making Homemade Advent Calendars (check), giving to local charities, and our yearly visit from our friendly Elf on the Shelf (whom will be making an appearance tonight, a little late, due to the flu working its way through the house).

With the passing of Thanksgiving and the launch of the holiday shopping season, I began my quest to search for even more family traditions.  As I have stated, I really would like to show my boys that Christmas is more about giving and less about receiving.

One tradition, that I have not previously mentioned, I started last year, was that of the $5.00 family exchanged.  This idea came to me last year when my oldest boy, four at the time, wanted to make something for his daddy for Christmas.  He began his “work” and became frustrated with what he had created.  Even though I encouraged him daddy would love his creation, I knew deep down he wanted to give even more.  This is when the idea of the $5.00 family exchange came to my mind.  What if I allowed each of my boys $5.00 to spend on their mom, dad, and brother?  Would they want to get more involved with the spirit of giving?  So off the family went with a little money in hand.

My husband and I each started with one child, in the store they were able to think about what they were going to give, then they were able to shop within their budget for a Christmas item of their choice.  Then my husband and I swapped little munchkins and did the same.  To our amazement each of our boys took the challenge very seriously and really thought about what they were going to get for each member of the family.  By the end of our shopping adventure they were gleaming with joy and had a hard time restraining themselves from giving away their surprises.

During the coming days the boys were responsible for wrapping their gifts, and placing them under the tree.  On Christmas day they were also the ones that would give the gifts to the appropriate members of the family. To my husband and my amazement, we watched as my boys were just as excited to open their presents as they were to return the favor of giving.  This new family tradition was such a success that our family with certainly be participating in this $5.00 exchange for years to come.  Just another way for children to get into the spirit of giving.

Interested to know what they picked out and their reasons for choosing them?


  • For Dad: Fishing items “because he likes to take me fishing”
  • For Mom: Wallet “mommy always looses her debit card”
  • For Sylis: Monster Truck “brother likes monster trucks”


  • For Dad: Beer Bread Mix Kit (mommy guided him a little on this one), (he wanted to get daddy beer, “Cause daddy loves beer”)
  • For Mom: Chocolate “mommy loves eating chocolate”
  • For Seth: Motorcycle “brother likes motorcycles”

All in all the boys were pretty on target and really thought about what they wanted to give.

I am really hoping this tradition sticks.

I would love to hear what other family do to help children see the value of giving to others during the holiday season.

Please leave your comments below.

A Strong Family Works Together!

10 11 2012

Growing up my immediate family was very close.  We spent a lot of time together and were always there to help each other out whenever needed.   We worked on the household chores together as well as the yard work.  We were a family unit and that is how we functioned.

When people grow up and have their own children they begin choosing which part of childhood they would like to pass on to their children and which areas they would like to improve upon.  One thing I am very thankful for is that my parents did not raise me to be lazy, in turn I am trying to teach my boys the same.

In my last post I talked about giving children Responsibility Charts in order to help instill good values including personal accountability.  In addition to giving the kiddos tasks that they are responsible for, I also believe that parents should have the same accountability towards their children.  If children are expected to help out with adult tasks, then parents should help out with child tasks, aka. play.

What better time to show them this then an over night snowfall.

When the boys peaked their heads outside this morning, their thoughts were of snow play.  Our thoughts were of clearing the driveway.  So, we made a deal with them.  They boys needed to help out by clearing the snow from the driveway and in turn we will help them build a huge snowman.

So as a family we got right to work!

After that, we were hard at play!

And in the end, we were all very happy campers!

The fun Snowman Kit was a gift the boys received last Christmas.

So, the next time you have a large task to complete, have the kids help out.  In turn make sure you show them equal consideration by devoting some time to them.  Just another way to instill strong values while creating awesome family memories.

What are some childhood values you would like to pass on?

Celebrating Nevada!

27 10 2012

This morning I had the great honor of extending one of our family traditions by taking my kiddos to the Nevada Day Parade.  This year’s theme was, “Honoring Our Military & Families, Past, Present, Future”.

We started our morning at 8:00am with the Annual Balloon Launch.

Around 10:00am we were able to see the “flyover of the military aircraft from the Fallon Naval Air Station and the Nevada Air Guard”.

Soon after we were greeted by an abundance of floats including a variety of local business, politicians, school marching bands, and local community organizations.

Some of our family’s favorite entries included,

The UNR Marching Band

Support for our Troops…


and Burning Man

We enjoyed watching the 200 participants walk, trot, bike, and drive by while we waved, ate, and just enjoyed our great State of Nevada with awesome friends and family.  I sat back and just enjoyed watching my kids marvel at all the sights and sounds that the parade had to offer both the younger and older generations.

This is what being a mom is all about, building those long lasting family memories with the ones you love so much!!

More on the History of Nevada or other Nevada Day Events.

What are some annual traditions you enjoy with your family?

Take the Time….

14 10 2012

I arrived at my son’s baseball practice the other day and was fully anticipating working on my calculus homework because I was very behind.  I sat down in the dugout and pulled out my book and began.  After a few minutes I noticed my four year old and another little girl, becoming increasingly bored.  Since it is rare that this little, three years old, girl comes to practice, I decided to strike up a conversation.  I asked her what her name was and she told me, I asked her how old she was, and she put up three fingers and said she was three, then the conversation became much deeper very quickly.  As this precious little girl began to feel more comfortable with me she began to tell me a story about her mommy.  She told me that her mommy had stayed home because she was tired and had cancer.  She went into a few more details in which I will keep private.  As I held back my tears and locked eyes with this little girl I could not help but think how brave she was.

Then she changed the subject and went on about how she was cold, I immediately ran to the car and fetched her one of my son’s sweatshirts and grabbed a few books.  For the remainder of the practice I read books to her and my younger son and just felt so blessed to be able to bring a little joy into these innocent little lives for just that half hour.  Had I not put down my homework and listened I would have never had this little moment with her and my son.  Did my homework get done, no, but this memory of how incredibly brave children can be will stay with me for eternity.

So the lesson is this, take time for those who need to talk and need you to take a little time for them.  You never know what someone is going though and how much they may need that little bit of cheering up.  You may not be able to change someone’s situation but you can just take a little time.  What have you done for someone recently?

Let them Help – Making Dinner

6 10 2012

As a mother, child care provider, and full-time student I don’t have a lot of time within my days to think about dinner.  I am usually busting through my day and when 6:00 rolls around I am normally exhausted and ready to take on my homework for the night, and plan for the next day’s activities.

Last Friday night I had a thought, instead of preparing dinner myself, why not let my two boys and their two friends prepare the dinner for the family.

So off we went to the store to shop for our key ingredients.

That’s Right, Pizza!

Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough

Trader Joe‘s Pizza Sauce

Trader Joe’s Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

– Pepperoni

First we coated the dining room table with flour and rolled out the dough.

Next, Play with the flour.  The little ones were very good at this step.

The older kiddos were in charge of the Sauce, Cheese, and Pepperoni, they were much more focused.

And the finished product…

Knowing the little ones as well as I do, I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into.

I knew this was going to be a much bigger mess than preparing a dinner myself, but it certainly would not have been as much fun for the kids or myself.

Yes, the mess turned out to be enormous, but the smiles I received in return were truly priceless.  They felt as though they contributed to the family dinner and I had an awesome time watching them play and create.

Letting my kids be kids is very important to me.  Messes can be cleaned up, but you are only a child once!

Best Friday night in a while.

A Little Faster and a Little Stronger

29 09 2012

Last weekend I had the privilege of running the Color Me Rad in Reno.  Since I am new to the entire running thing, I knew, I was certainly not going to be fastest runner on the track. In the back seat on the way up, my two boys kept asking me if I was going to win, knowing I would not, I explained to them that races are all about getting out there and having fun.  Although they were confused, and really wanted me to win, they cheered me on at every position they were able to catch up with me.  Hearing those little voices cheering me on and seeing those bright smiles pushed me a little faster and a little stronger all the way into the finish.

Today my two sons, Sylis and Seth, were entered in a free bike race at Northstar.  My oldest had been in a few races but this was a first for my youngest.  Again, as we were headed to the race, my two little guys had a conversation in the back seat.  Sylis was telling his little brother he wanted to win; Seth on the other hand was telling his big brother that it didn’t matter, and just try really hard.  I sat in the front smiling.  Often times as a mother we explain to children certain life lessons and just hope that something sticks and when something finally does, it feels amazing.

As we were headed up to the race the boys were giddy as can be.

Getting their game faces on ready to take on a practice ride.

First up, little brother Seth

Next, big brother Sylis

During both of their races, as they passed the section where I was standing, I noticed something; they always looked up for me.  When they noticed me shouting for them and ringing my extremely load cowbell, yes I am one of those moms, I noticed them smile excitedly.  As soon as they passed, they would get back into race mode and I could see them petal a little faster and a little stronger.  At that moment, it wasn’t about winning it was all about just being in the moment and sharing it with the ones you love.

When they both passed the finish line, they were each handed a metal, and to a four and five year old, this meant they won the championship.  They excitedly showed each other their prizes and biked away with grins and giggles.

During the quite ride home I began to realize the bigger picture of these past two weekends.  I realized the importance of just being present for the ones who love you.  As a busy mother, childcare provider, or business owner, it is not always possible to be available for every event that occurs in your child’s life.  As a mother, I too have felt the “Mommy Guilt” when I have been unable to attend a field trip or game for one of my munchkins, but being as busy as I am, at certain points it is inevitable.

One thing this weekend made me realize is that when I am able to attend I need to be very present in the moment.  Today, these two littler riders needed my support and I was there cheering them along their way. Had they not seen me watching and cheering after the straight away, they may have never wanted to push a little faster and a little stronger.  They pushed me in my race when I needed them, and I was able to do the same for them, that is what family is all about right?

Teresa Chalmers

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