Christmas starts for me by putting up the Tree, usually the first day of December.
We have a nice collection of tree decorations collected over the years - including some I embroidered at Intermediate School when I was 11 (my mum gave them to me when I got married).
We have a fibre-optic Tree, as I love the way the lights flash. Most evenings I turn off the lights and watch them! This harks back to my childhood as well - we had a very small fake christmas tree with one strand of coloured (non-flashing) lights. I would sit then and look at them, imagining Christmas, and feeling that magic Christmas is coming feeling.
Then there are the photos of the kids on Santa's knee. Now, early on I realised that there would be no photos with the guy in the red suit if we didn't think a bit creatively. There was a lot of screaming and resisting, which kind of takes the edge off things, so a few years ago, when Princess was one, we bought a Santa suit and Mr G became Santa.
At first Princess would not go anywhere near him until he removed the beard and proved he was really just Daddy. the next year she watched him get dressed in his suit and still wouldn't sit on his knee (she was 2).
Last year we had a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve! He explained that he was very busy but had wanted to come and specially see Dash and Princess because he had heard what good kids they had been this year. They gazed in wide-eyed wonder at Santa, but Dash (who had just turned 5) told me once Santa had left: "I know that was Daddy because he has the same T-shirt on under his suit as dad!" No flies on that boy! Mr G is now in hot demand at Christmas parties and Sunday schools... His "Ho!Ho! Ho! Meeeery Christmas!" is exceedingly jolly!
Another favourite tradition is one present to open on Christmas Eve. This present is always a new pair of PJs to wear. We started this tradition when Princess was 1 and Dash 3. They caught on very quick that it's something we do every year, and last year had a lengthy conversation about what kind of PJ's they might get. (Santa brought them with him last year).
On Christmas Eve we also hang the stockings; which is much cooler now we have a real mantelpiece. At our old house we hung them off the dining chairs!
When the kids have gone to sleep we pile the presents under the Tree; the lounge always resembles Santa's Grotto.
When the kids wake up we all go in and open the presents. I object to kids just ripping open stuff and not taking the time to say thankyou; we make it that the stocking is from Santa and the gifts are from us and each other, so they learn to show gratitude.
This year we are going to try something new; a friend told Mr G their tradition of having a trumpet that blows each hour, and the kids stop what they are doing and race to open another present; instead of having a massive feeding frenzy of presents this keeps it going all day.
We will probably open the stocking and two presents each at first, then each hour after that. Then we can enjoy playing with/using the new present as well. I am thinking of family presents we can enjoy together like Singstar Disney and other games. Mr G thinks it will be hardest for him, as he is the biggest kid of all and just loves ripping open presents!
It's also Daddy's job to cook us breakfast (traditionally "bacon sarnies"); and put on the Turkey to cook.
He likes a traditional turkey roast for Christmas; in our family it was baked glazed ham. So I do the ham (ahead of time) and he puts on the turkey. We have left-overs for days!
Well, there's a few of our favourite family traditions... how about yours?