Written By: Elyse Sinsay
Here in the Sinsay house, we take Christmas pretty seriously. It all starts and builds up at Halloween, all the way to game time, the show, where it all goes down, CHRISTMAS. All of that is because of me, because when I was growing up, Christmas was the one time of year where everyone got together, didn’t argue, made delicious food, loved each other and made the houses glow with love. So, when I got older and my parent made more and more of an effort to make Christmas special, I made a promise to myself that I would do the same for my children. I would share with them the same love and magic I had been a part of as a child. The only difference is that I just didn’t want it to be for one day. I get excited about Christmas, like, the week of thanksgiving. Yes, I admit, I am one of THOSE people. I do my best to wait to put my decorations and talk about it, but most years I don’t really make it and end up with some sort of decoration up. When December 1st hits or when dinner is over after Thanksgiving, Christmas is a go.
So, here are our, the Sinsay’s, traditions we have done over the years, to make this holiday special. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do, maybe even do some of the same. Either way, we all will have a merry Christmas as long as we have family, right?!
- Decorate! We decorate the tree. This is something we do as a family. My husband sets up the tree and strings the lights. Then, we all put ornaments on. Each year we take turns picking a color theme too. So it’s never the same old tree. After we decorate the tree my husband and I decorate the house with lights and garland. Then the kids and I go into their rooms and decorate their rooms and windows. Last we string lights outside and put up outdoor décor, but the outside stuff usually happens a few days after the inside is decorated.
- Ornaments. Along with decorating the tree, each year we get our kids, sometimes ourselves, a new ornament. We let them pick which one they want or pick one from their favorite show/movie. We also try to get the ornament with a charm that has the year on it so that way when they are older they have a collection of collectable ornaments/ keepsakes for their own tree.
- Movies. Each year ABC Family does 25 days of Christmas. Well we do something like that too. We do a movie a night, not always following their schedule, all of our favorite Christmas movies with only a few repeats. We make hot cocoa, snuggle up and watch. All starting December 1st. ABC Family gave me the idea, but sometimes the schedule sucks or they play the same movie at the same time, so we record what we want to watch and watch later or watch what we have in our collection with no commercials to fast forward through.
- Cookies. No holiday would be complete without cookie decorating. Each year we make a grip of cookies, sometimes we have friends over, and decorate them. If they, the cookies, make it to Christmas Eve, we leave out some for Santa. I like to do this activity because it brings us into the kitchen and allows the kids to be creative. They like to make cookies for specific people too, so it encourages them to share and be grateful. Always a plus.
- PJs. On Christmas Eve we let the kids have special pjs. Christmas pjs. Something festive, snuggly and special. It’s Christmas Eve, Santa. Is. Coming. You have to look your best. It’s silly I know but one more thing to get them in the holiday spirit is fine by me.
- Present. Also on Christmas Eve we let the kids open ONE present. We make a BIG deal about it. We take FOREVER picking one out. Some years we have one in mind others we just wing it. But they get so excited they almost pee themselves. And they always LOVE it. They are in their Christmas pjs, watching our Christmas movie, drinking cocoa, with their first present. This is a happy kid people. Let me tell you. A FUCKING happy kid.
- The Elf. We have an elf. Her name is Snowflake. She comes out when we put up the tree. All throughout the month she moves from place to place to get views of the kids. She makes sure they earn their presents, have/keep up on their manners, and reports back to the big guy. I like her because she is not like some of those other elves you see pictures of using the toilet or making messes. She helps me out with the lights and keeps things tidy. I’m a neat freak so I appreciate it. I recommend one in your house. J
- Lights. In San Diego we have many options for light viewing. You can go to Del Mar, Balboa, LEGOLAND, sea world, just to name a few. But, our family likes to keep it old school. We like to find those neighborhoods that band together for blocks and blocks and decorate their homes and lawns like it’s going out of style. We like those because it’s those houses that have magic. Those people who really get what it means to come together for Christmas. I don’t care how old you are, when you see all those lights and all the work that those people put into their homes it’s like you are a kids again and THAT is worth sharing with your kids. It’s why we do it. It’s just magic.
- Toys for tots. Each year we have the kids pick a toy for a kid their age. We ask them, “What would you want?” we give them a spending limit and they pick something. Sometimes it’s for a boy and sometimes it’s for a girl. But we always pick something. Then we take it to the front of the store, after we pay for it of course, where a solider is standing and the kids give it to them. The kids also thank them for their service. When they hand it to them, our kids know that it is for another kid and the look on their face when they give it up is priceless. They are proud. They feel good because they know that the toy they picked out is a good one and it is going to a child who won’t get to have the best Christmas that they possibly could, but that toy will at least make them happy. You see, we teach/ taught our kids that Christmas is not just about presents but about giving and being grateful for what you have. The best way to do that is to share with someone who is less fortunate than you. So, we give toys. We all have had low points in our lives but a smile on a child’s face is priceless, so why not get two smiles from one deed?
Well, my fellow mouse-keteers, that’s the Sinsay traditions, so far. I’m sure as the kids get older we will have more to add, but for 2015, that is it. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, safe travels to your families wherever they may be, and get all that you asked for under your trees.. As always, have a very merry un-birthday to you!
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Photos by: Elyse Sinsay