Before Frozen 2 became a reality, Elsa and Anna fans had to settle for the two Disney shorts featuring our favorite Frozen characters, Frozen Fever and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Without any spoilers, the latter follows Olaf on his quest to find a holiday tradition to share with Elsa and Anna. He bounces through Arendelle singing:
Love and joy and peace on Earth and tidings of good cheer
Do you have tradition things
For that time of year?
When it comes to our own “tradition things,” we’re sharing some of our editors’ childhood traditions they plan to bring to their own kids as well as new traditions born from blended cultures and life’s realities. If you’re a parent without the fondest of holiday childhood memories, maybe you’re focused on creating new memories and traditions for yourself and your children this year. We know holiday traditions aren’t always what you see in the movies, and we’re sharing those stories too.
On Bringing Back Childhood Traditions
We get pajamas delivered to our front porch on Christmas Eve “from Rudolph.” My grandparents started this tradition when my mom (who is one of seven) was a little girl. They didn’t have much money when she was young, but it was something they always managed to do for their kids even when things were tough. My grandparents are gone now, and it’s really special for me to do that for my son now.
Also, when I was a little girl, my grandma used to have this box of special ornaments that Santa delivered to me so that I could put them on the tree. It was our special thing we did together, and now I have those ornaments on my tree, and my mom plans to do that with our son, Zach.
On Christmas Eve growing up, my three brothers and I were allowed to open the gifts we bought for each other on Christmas Eve. When we were little, this usually meant we opened junk from the elementary school flea market, but it was something we always looked forward to enjoying together, as one of our favorite Christmas movies played in the background. Now that my girls are old enough to pick out special gifts for each other, I want to continue this tradition.
Also, my mother-in-law always read my husband and his sisters The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. My husband has adopted this as his special moment with the girls before they go to sleep on December 24, even bringing the book from home to the hospital so he could read it to our baby daughter when she spent her first Christmas in the hospital with RSV.
We’re living far from family, which can be hard around the holidays, so I’m excited to continue traditions and create some new ones, especially since this is our first holiday season as a family of three. Growing up, to celebrate Hanukkah, we always lit the candles and made latkes, though I haven’t done that in many years. I’m looking forward to doing that with Millie this year! And I’m excited to do holiday baking with Millie. I’m hoping in future years we’ll be able to celebrate with extended family.
On Making New Traditions
I met my then-boyfriend, now-husband, back in 2013, and I knew after our first date that I’d marry him. He’s from Ghana and has been in America since he was 18, but when it comes to holiday traditions, he stayed true to his original upbringing. Unlike in my family, it did not take his four hours to open presents, one by one, letting each person have their turn opening and enjoying each gift.
For the last few years, we’ve been shifting and adjusting our holiday traditions to make room for a tradition that includes both of our cultures. Since we have a son, we want to make sure that our holidays moving forward are memorable and ever-evolving for our family. We’ve decided to always include meals from the other tradition, make sure to spend at least a little time alone (even without the baby — thanks family!) on the actual day, and now, we’re dedicated to leaving a little room in our holiday vacation for just the three of us back at our home.
Because my husband, Sean, usually works on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas, we don’t actually have a lot of traditions that are common. I try to do the best I can to make things feel special with the boys. The one thing we always do together is getting a tree and decorating together. To go along with this, we also buy two to three new ornaments each year for each kid — not heirloom or super fancy, but something that is reminiscent of who each kid is at this time in their life.
So, Shea this year (age 4) got an art easel ornament, a Daniel Tiger ornament, and an Aquaman ornament. Arian (age 6) got a Harry Potter ornament (he just started reading the series), a dinosaur ornament, and a globe ornament because he wants to be an explorer. I make sure to write the year and initials of who it belongs to on the bottom, and each year, when we pull them all out, it’s a walk down memory lane of our babies, who they were and who they’re becoming. Our tree is never cohesive and cute, it’s definitely not Instagram-ready, but it’s a very clear depiction of who lives in this house. I hope years from now when my kids are with their own little families, they can smile at these ornaments and remember that their parents always let them be exactly who they are.
It feels a little sad to write this when everyone else is reliving happy memories, but I don’t have any holiday traditions that I plan on continuing with my family. My parents’ divorce and “complicated” relationship with my mother left me on my own for the holidays starting in my early 20s. When I moved from LA to Chicago in 2010, I made the decision to spend the holidays here. There was a Christmas that I woke up alone, but I got through it and feel stronger for it. I was so lucky to spend holidays with friends too, and when I met my husband four years ago, I was welcomed into his family.
I’m excited to make our own traditions as a family. Wearing matching Christmas pajamas, seeing the zoo lights, and making breakfast together on Christmas morning. For those of us without happy childhoods, parenthood is a chance to create the memories and traditions we missed out on. It can be bittersweet, but there’s so much joy too. There’s a little piece of me that gets sad this time of year, but my heart couldn’t be more full thinking of the traditions we’ll create as a family.
Whatever your holiday traditions, or traditions-to-be, we hope your season is full of joy and peace and tidings of good cheer, surrounded by people you love (just like Olaf says).
What holiday traditions do you plan to share with your kids?