The holidays: a beautiful, crazy, hectic, stressful, fun season. The music, the shopping, the wrapping, the baking, all the twinkly lights, the parties and special events and gifts topped with ribbons and bows…I could go on and on. There’s such a buzz in the air, an excitement and anticipation. There really is just magic to this time of year, and I love it all. 

The holidays are also a time of tradition and nostalgia. I’m reminded of this year after year as the preparations begin.

As I unpack the ornaments to decorate the tree, it’s as if I’m opening a living scrapbook. I see ornaments that take me back and help me remember wonderful moments and events in my life. There are ornaments from various destinations that represent trips we’ve taken as a family, or unique adventures I’ve shared with my sisters or friends.

There are the homemade ornaments with my children’s handprints or preschool photos that sometimes stop me in my tracks. The handprints on these are so little and now my daughters are grown adults with children of their own. But wasn’t it just yesterday when these little hands reached for my own? I still hang these ornaments on the Christmas tree, a beautiful reminder of this beautiful life.

The holidays are a time of traditions, and it’s wonderful to repeat these each year. Some of them are a bit more formal, like midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I love the sound of the church choir singing carols, and the smell of winter that hangs in the quiet night sky when we leave mass. 

I love dressing up and heading to the theater to see the beautiful Nutcracker Ballet. This tradition started with my daughters and nieces. And now, this year, will continue with my daughters and their daughters, and my nieces and their daughters. It’s fun for all of us to share this with the next generation. 

There are also the traditions of helping others. For some, this might not be the brightest time of the year, and I enjoy doing what I can to help make it merry for others. We usually adopt a family and help shop for toys and gifts under their Christmas tree, too. 

I look forward to these activities, and for me, it wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t take a night to drive around to look at the lights and decorations in the neighborhoods around Dayton. We enjoy sipping hot chocolate and singing along to Christmas music on the radio as we admire some of the elaborate lighting displays. 

writing christmas cardsI also enjoy sitting down by my own twinkly Christmas tree to write notes and send Christmas cards to family and friends near and far. I’m not always the best at sending mail throughout the year, but this is one task I complete each holiday season. 

We also have a new tradition at the bakery: Sprinkles, Ashley’s Pastries own Elf on the Shelf arrives in early December.  Each morning, Sprinkles can be found in a different spot in the bakery. Hopefully, he hasn’t gotten into too many shenanigans, but the first child customer to find Sprinkles each day gets a special treat. The look of pure joy on children’s faces when they see Sprinkles makes it all worth it. 

I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the hustle and bustle and must-dos on the list this time of year. My hope for you (and for me) is to find time to enjoy the magical moments of the season. Happy Holidays!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? We’d love to hear them so please comment below.