Children, Christmas, Culture

Making Memories and Sharing Traditions

Our gingerbread house

I hold my head in shame as I realise it has been over a month since my last posting. What can I say? It has been a busy festive season and other things outside the blog have snowballed and there has been little time to catch up here.

More than any other year I have paid particular attention to passing on festive traditions to my children, as well as creating new ones with them during the Christmas period. As my three boys get older they start appreciating the little things connected with each season, and they remember things the following year.

So this Christmas time was about the little things, about creating memories whilst making the most of every day and concentrating on the five of us being a family. Each day my two eldest boys took turns to open a door on the advent calendar, and as often as I could I chose an advent card with an activity on it.

Making tree decorations
(c) Amanda van Mulligen

That meant we made a gingerbread house and the boys had a fabulous time decorating it (including the biggest boy in the house – my husband). We went for an evening torch lit walk in the neighbourhood. We made tree decorations from white dough and sprinkled them with silver glitter. We had a winter solstice dinner by candlelight. We decorated the Christmas tree together (the two oldest boys putting decorations on the tree and my 14 month old pulling them all off again….) and we made paper snowflakes. We watched The Polar Express as a family and even my youngest sat with us quietly for the duration of the film. We hung our stockings up on our bedroom doors and left a mince pie and a Baileys out for Father Christmas (the boys had been told by a certain someone that Baileys was always welcome as a tipple for Santa). On Christmas morning we opened the presents in our stockings, had freshly baked muffins for breakfast and then opened the presents under the tree. After Christmas the two older boys went to the circus with their dad and on new year’s eve we went to the Winter Wonderland in the Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht where the boys skated and we all drank hot chocolate whilst listening to a great band play some familiar numbers. We had a great time. Memories to keep safe.

A winter solstice dinner by candlelight
(c) Amanda van Mulligen

Of course, before we knew it, the Christmas holidays were over and it was time to head back to school and work. Back to normal life – enter flu and pneumonia!! After a week of illness I am back on track and can finally play catch up….. oh and get everything sorted for my son’s 6th birthday party at the weekend.

On the topic of traditions…. long before the Christmas period I asked some expats to share some of the ways they pass on their home culture and traditions to their children who were born in a different country. Over the coming weeks I’ll share what they had to say with you in a new blog series. Watch this space!

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3 thoughts on “Making Memories and Sharing Traditions”

  1. Love the gingerbread house! We had Christmas at “home” with my family this year. Honestly, it wasn't as fun as I was hoping. We don't have any family Christmas traditions which I had never realised before. Now I'm setting myself the task of creating new ones for the future.

    Happy New Year Amanda!

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  2. Thank you! I learnt quickly that having everyone over on Christmas day meant work, work and more work so I think that's a tradition we'll skip…… and this year instead of slaving over a stove to produce a traditional British Christmas meal for the kids they wouldn't eat I made a pizza in the shape of a Christmas tree. Big hit…. not sure that will get on the annual traditions list though 🙂

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