Christmas Traditions

Part of having a family is making our own Christmas traditions. Some things have remained the same since Lily was a baby. We visit one side of the family the weekend before Christmas. We visit a second side of the family the weekend after Christmas. But, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are just for us.

On Christmas Eve, we snack and snack throughout the day. We watch movies in our jammies. We take a break to make a gingerbread house. (Or this year….a gingerbread volcano.)


Then, Christmas Eve Mass and driving around to see Christmas lights (this was the Christmas Eve tradition when I was little.)

One of our favorite places to see lights is by walking through Lilacia Park. We’ve actually never gone to this part any other day except for Christmas Eve.


Then, Christmas Day, we wake up, open presents and hang out all day. Recently, Christmas Day has become our big “special dinner” that Ryan plans and puts together.

Our traditions have changed some throughout the years but the main purpose has remained the same: to build low-stress memories with our girls.

What are your Christmas traditions?


Holiday Bucket List

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s that time of year once again when I put up with the weather because the holidays are just so much fun!

There are many activities that we do every year around this time of year. (It’s a little crazy to think that it’s holiday time once again!) As with our fall bucket list, there are some things on the list that we’ve already done – or will be doing very very soon. So check out the list! There might be some things that you can do along with us!

Some of our favorites:


Illuminate 900  – This one we actually did Thursday night. We rarely ever go to the 900 North Michigan Avenue shops, mostly because we just never shop that far on Michigan. But, this is a great way to kick off holiday celebrations. It’s free! But, you can add a donation to Make-a-Wish. This year, I got the free wristbands for the girls and I paid for an upgrade wristband for myself. Cookie decorating. Christmas decorations. Music. Dancing. Santa. Yes, it’s a school night, but it’s a lot of fun.


Mag Mile Lights Festival – This one we will be doing today! This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas activities. Christmas lights. Shopping. Santa. And Disney! When I worked on Michigan Avenue, this was a stressful day to be at work. But, now, I love it! lol


Holiday Magic –  One of our favorite Brookfield Zoo activities is seeing the decorations and lights throughout the zoo. The lights are beautiful and there are special holiday activities throughout the zoo.


Look at Christmas decorations – We pretty much do this one all season long. I love wandering through downtown Chicago and looking at decorations, store windows, Christmas trees. There is just so much to see! Plus, after attending Mass on Christmas Eve, we drive around our town and look at decorations. This is a tradition that began when I was a kid and now my own girls look forward to going for a drive after Mass to see the lights.


Go to Christkindlmarket – Each year, we’ve gone to the downtown Chicago location. This year, my goal is to check out the Naperville location and maybe even hit up the Milwaukee location!

Visit with Santa – Well, we’ve sort of done this. We’ve seen Santa a couple times now but haven’t had the “sit down and tell me what you want for Christmas” conversation with him yet. We did, however, write down lists and mail them off so I think that we have this task completed.

Drink egg nog – Oh, how I love egg nog. And I love to drink egg nog out of my Santa mug or one of my many holiday glasses. This will be happening. Probably several times.

Sit by the fireplace – One of my favorite things in our house is the fireplace. We weren’t able to use it during our first winter in the house because the chimney needed to have some, um, safety problems fixed first. Now, however, it’s fixed, works well, and is just so nice to sit near.

Now, I want to know….what’s on your list of must-do holiday activities?


I am a Christmas decoration snob

When we were younger, immediately after attending Christmas Eve Mass, we would all hop back into the car with a purpose.  We would drive around town to look at all of the Christmas decorations.  It is important to remember that we did not just sit back and “ooh” and “aah”.  No, we would judge the decorations on the houses as a family.  That is a Christmas tradition that still continues with me.

While driving or walking through the city, I can not help but comment out loud when I see Christmas decorations.  Over the years, I have developed strong feelings toward what I do and what I don’t like.  I love classic decorations – all white lights, or all multi-colored lights outlining a house.  But I also love when a house looks like Christmas exploded all over it.

I thoroughly believe that if you are going to go with a classy look, that should be your driving force.  If you are going for a crazy-everything-except-the-kitchen-sink look, well, that should be your driving force.  If you are going to do it, be dedicated to it.  If you want your house to look like Martha Stewart decorated it?  Go ahead and do it.  If you want to put the Griswold house to shame?  Go ahead and do that.

Most importantly, though, your Christmas decorations should be something that you love and that you are proud of.  If you want to just throw some net lights on your bushes and be done with it, that’s fine.  If you want to start planning next years decorations the day after Christmas, well that’s fine too.

Every Christmas, our landlord places a small artificial tree in the front yard.  He decorates it with one strand of garland and a string of red lights.  I think it looks ridiculous, but I smile every time I see it because when I see that little tree glowing red from down the street I know I’m almost home.

Merry Christmas!