Christmas Traditions – Old and New

On the heels of Thanksgiving came Christmas and we celebrated all month long, as we did with the previous two holidays. We incorporated some beloved traditions into our celebrations this year and tried a few new activities, too. As the kids get older, they, obviously, get more and more excited about holidays and so Christmas was much anticipated and enjoyed. In fact, the day after Christmas, Vivian made a comment about “when Christmas comes” and I told her that Christmas already came and that it would be another 364 days until Christmas comes again; she immediately burst into tears and exclaimed, “But Christmas can’t just be ONE day!” I promise you, though, that Christmas was not just one day in our house – we celebrated for nearly 30 days prior and we did have some post-December 25th celebrations, also.

New Activities
Breakfast with Santa: We kicked off the month-plus of all things Christmas with a new-for-us activity: breakfast with Santa at the Lake Forest City Hall. The girls got to do some crafts, listen to a story, and sing carols. This was William’s first Santa visit and actually our only Santa visit of the season. William did great with Santa; the girls were both still too scared to get too close to him.

Breakfast with Santa at the Lake Forest City Hall

The Nutcracker: I took Vivian to a special children’s production of The Nutcracker at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. It was only an hour long and I’d say that she was as interested and engaged as you could expect a four-year-old to be. I once auditioned for The Nutcracker when I was a child, although I didn’t get chosen. The last time I saw a production of The Nutcracker was when we were in NYC when I was pregnant with Vivian. It was fun to go on a mama-daughter date with her to see this performance.

The Nutcracker at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

Christmas Light Walk: We all went to a Christmas Light Walk at the Sherman Library & Gardens a few days before Christmas. This was our first time attending this event. The kids had fun, but it was very crowded.

All Lit Up at the Christmas Light Walk at the Sherman Library & Gardens

William Made the Nice List (Sherman Library & Gardens)

A Charlie Brown Christmas: I took Vivian to see a local community theater production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which was so cute and well done.

A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Chance Theater

LA Zoo Lights: A few days after Christmas we went – with my mom – to see the lights at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Once again, the kids had fun, but it was super crowded. Also, nearly all of the animals were off display and much of the zoo was closed off. This year was only the zoo’s fifth year displaying lights, so I think that they are still building and refining their event.

LA Zoo Lights

Monarch Beach Resort: Right before the end of the year, Dan and I (and William, since he was not yet sleeping through the night) spent a night at the Monarch Beach Resort. This was my 7th anniversary gift to Dan. We enjoyed dinner and breakfast at the resort (again, with William in tow), but our favorite activity was walking down the beach and admiring the amazing ocean views.

William at the Monarch Beach Resort

Beach Walk Views from the Monarch Beach Resort

Old Traditions
Christmas Stocking: Dan’s mom knitted William a stocking, which is a long-standing family tradition. He was very excited for Santa to fill it!

William’s Santa Stocking Handmade by Grandma

Christmas Tree: We decorated an artificial tree in our house. Our pre-lit tree in storage was only partially lit when we plugged it in this year, so we bought a new one that is even better for the small space in our house that we have allocated for a tree. Vivian was super excited to place the star on the top of it (also new this year).

New Tree and Star

William “Helped” Decorate the Tree

Heritage Hill Historical Park: In past years, we went to the Candlelight Walk at Heritage Hill Historical Park. This event, although festive, was typically very crowded. This year, instead of going to the actual Candlelight Walk event, we stopped by the park on a different night when the park was open (and free!) to visitors, but without vendors and activities. This was SO much better! There were only a few other people at the park (along with a few park rangers) and the girls got to run all over the park and explore the lights.

Holiday Lights at Heritage Hill Historical Park

Christmas Jammies: William wore Christmas jammies that the girls wore two and four years ago (heritage jammies are the first three pictures, left to right, below).

William’s Christmas Jammie Montage

Letters to Santa: Vivian and Lillian both wrote and mailed letters to Santa. Santa wrote back and included lots and lots of glitter snow in each letter, which I was extremely glad that I was warned about and had the foresight to open the envelopes over the kitchen sink.

Mailing Letters to Santa

Preschool Holiday Singing Program: Vivian performed in her preschool’s holiday singing program, again. This was her second (and final) year singing and dancing in this program for. Next year (and the year after), Lillian will be taking the stage (and then William…).

Preschool Singing Program, Day 1

Preschool Singing Program, Day 2

Baker Ranch Polar Express Holiday Event: Dan took the girls to our neighborhood’s holiday event (William was sick, so I stayed home with him). Although slightly different every year, we always look forward to the holiday events that our association hosts for us.

Swinging at the Baker Ranch Polar Express Holiday Event

Christmas Eve Mass: We all made to to mass on Christmas Eve with plenty of time to spare (quite the feat when you have three small children in tow!).

Family Picture Before Christmas Eve Mass at Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church

Santa!: On Christmas Eve, Santa came and when we heard him, we woke the girls up so that they could see him. They sleepily peeked over the stair railing to see Santa arranging presents under the tree, eat a cookie, and hear his jingle bells; however, the next morning, when asked them about seeing Santa, they had no recollection. On Christmas morning, the girls were very excited to open presents from him, though. William enjoyed all the commotion, as usual. 

Santa Came!

New “Cry Baby” Dolls

Santa Baby

Nana Visit: On Christmas night, just like last year, my mom arrived via plane and stayed with us for one wonderful week. We all loved having her nearby and appreciated all of her extensive help!

Nana Came!

Gingerbread House Building with Nana

While my mom was visiting, the girls picked the lemon off our many-years-old tree. She then made delicious lemon tassies with the zest and juice.

Picking Our First Lemon

Since my Mom was in town and there was an extra set of hands and eyes to help with the kids, Vivian and I were able to steel away for a mama/daughter manicure/pedicure one afternoon. It had been awhile since the two of us had treated ourselves to some pampering and Vivian, especially, thoroughly enjoyed it. After our “spa” afternoon, we were ready to start the new year – bring on 2019!

Post Mani/Pedi with Mama

About Carrie

I'm a Midwest transplant in SoCal...spending my time exploring, questioning, reading, writing, baking, skiing, and running.
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2 Responses to Christmas Traditions – Old and New

  1. Robini says:

    What a great holiday! I, of course, and going backwards (whee catchup!) but I do admit, my jealousy at your “next” post is somewhat sated by all the mentions of how crowded things are. I love those shots of William in his legacy sleepwear, and that shot of Viv at Charlie Brown’s Christmas with her hair pulled back made me do a double take – she looks so much like Dan at that age! I love the matching hat and Christmas Jammies on the kids, and that’s a great shot of William being about the same length as his hand-knit stocking from Grandma. Hearing about your walk through lights makes me miss Deacon Dave’s, but I’m glad you were able to enter 2019 feeling refreshed!

  2. Robini says:

    Also I forgot to mention that we had a similar experience to your LA Zoo lights one when we went to Haunt The Zoo for Halloween one year – the costumes were cool, but with all the animals asleep, it was just like every other walking trail, only with tons of cheap candy (ugh) and 50 million other people on the trail

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