We’re fast approaching Christmas, or more specifically, Ameli’s second Christmas.

As a couple, we have various traditions that we’ve developed over the years. I decorate the Christmas tree with bits we’ve collected from all over. We have been alone for six of the seven Christmases we’ve shared, so we always invite the strays – the people who would be alone too. It means we’ve ended up on our own sometimes, or with one or two friends other times, and it’s always been good.

Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk Traditions

First ChristmasThis post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.


I cook a full Christmas meal, whether for two or twenty, I lay the table, and use my great grandmother’s extra special dishes. I love making a ginger bread house, which I’ve only done twice, but intend to make a tradition – something my little girl and I can do together every Christmas eve.

Christmas eve we normally have friends around. We have a light meal. We play board games. We open a present each. Christmas morning, we open presents in our pajamas. We have a light breakfast and then I cook up a storm. Christmas afternoon we lie prone on our rounded bellies.

That’s how it’s been for six years.

Last year we had a two and a half month old. My sister and her boyfriend joined us and everything was pretty much as it had been the six years before, with the addition of family and our child.

This year is different though. This year we are in a different country. We have none of our comforts around us. We have no cookie cutters. We have no fancy dishes. We have little money. We have complicated family circumstances. I can’t cook a Christmas dinner in my home. This year our tradition is completely shot.

It’s almost strange to me, how much that has affected me, and it’s been interesting trying to arrange ‘around’ the lack of comfort zone.

But it’s made me remember another thing: My husband and I have spent Christmases on our own, we have spent it with very little, and with a lot. We have had great days and days with a tinge of sadness. But regardless of where, with what, or with who else, we’ve always had each other.

And despite the gingerbread house, the tree, the pajama-clad-gift-frenzy, the beautiful dishes, the perfectly brined turkey, and the flashing tree lights, being together is the only thing that matters. As the years pass we will build our own new traditions, and those will be the childhood moments that form Ameli’s memories and be some of the precious times that will bond our family.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon December 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • Traditions? What traditions? — Olivia at Write About Birth needs your advice: how can she make the most of the holiday season in a new country with only her immediate family? (@writeaboutbirth)
  • TRADITION!!!!!! — Ella at My Intentional Journey reminds us all to be thankful for family traditions; there are those who have none.
  • tradition! — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine came to realize that families can make incredible memories, even if they’re not wealthy (or organized).
  • Taking a child’s perspective on traditions — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to keep in mind how important even the mundane traditions will be to her little ones. (@Hobo_Mama)
  • Sunday Dinners and Lullabies — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment finds traditions in the small things throughout the year.
  • Simple Family Advent Traditions — Michelle at The Parent Vortex crafted a set of advent bags with daily surprises to eat and to do. (@TheParentVortex)
  • Parenting: Family Meetings – A Timeless Tradition — Amy Phoenix at Innate Wholeness discusses a year-round tradition in her household: Family Meetings. (@InnateWholeness)
  • Our Mindful Holidays — They may not be “traditional” traditions, but they fit the family of Kellie at Our Mindful Life.
  • Our Holiday Tradtions, New and Old — Even with three young children, Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings is finding ways to be intentional and meaningful about holiday traditions. (@sunfrog)
  • Our Cupcake Custom — Amy at Anktangle knows celebrations need minimal excuse and lots of cupcakes! (@anktangle)
  • On the bunny slope of tradition-making — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is finding her groove as a holistic-minded mama with a joyful holiday spirit. (@crunchychewy)
  • No, Virginia, There Is Not a Santa Claus — Just because her family is not going to do Santa, does not mean that Sheila at A Gift Universe can’t instill some mystery and magic into Christmas. (@agiftuniverse)
  • New Traditions — Becky at Future Legacy shares a few traditions she is starting for her family, including popovers, a birthday banner, and service.
  • My Holiday Family Traditions — The Artsymama continues a long tradition of adopting family members and sharing two favorite games that work well for a crowd.
  • Mindfully Creating Family Traditions — Alison at BluebirdMama has ideas for celebrating birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas — though her family’s still figuring some of it out. (@bluebirdmama)
  • Memorable Traditions — Lori Ann at MamaWit follows four mindful steps when instituting any tradition.
  • Let’s Talk Traditions — Lily, aka Witch Mom shares her family’s traditions that are centered on the wheel of the year. (@lilyshahar)
  • Homeschool Christmas — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now did not always celebrate the Christmas season in the same way with her family, but they always celebrated together. (@DebChitwood)
  • Holidays, food and family — For Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood, the holidays are about family and food. (@crunchymamato2)
  • Giving Christmas to the Critter — Rachael at The Variegated Life has found a way to tie her Zen practices to the Christmas story of the baby in the manger. (@RachaelNevins)
  • Family Traditions + To Santa Or Not To Santa — Stop by Natural Parents Network to discover some of the traditions from other natural parents. NPN is also featuring snippets of posts from NP bloggers on the topic of whether to encourage children to believe in Santa Claus. (@NatParNet)
  • Family Tradition Origins — Momma Jorje discusses her family’s traditions, and her desire not to make anyone feel obligated to conform to them.
  • Everyday Traditions — For Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children it’s the small, daily traditions that make life special.
  • Establishing Traditions and Older Child Adoption — MrsH at Fleeting Moments is trying to find ways to start traditions with a family that was made very quickly through birth and adoption.
  • Emerging Family Traditions — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! shares some of her favorite birthday and Christmas traditions. (@bfmom)
  • Does Rebellion Count? — Seonaid at the Practical Dilettante has instituted a day of rest and PJs at her house on Christmas. (@seonaid_lee)
  • December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Traditions — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker tries to give her girls a mix of traditions to foster togetherness — but worries that not being near extended family is a disconnect.
  • Craft-tea Christmas Celebrations — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud created a delicious Christmas tradition that she named “Craft-tea.”
  • A Christmas Tradition — Luschka at Diary of a First Child knows that even though she won’t be able to have her usual holiday traditions this year, the important thing is that she has her family. (@lvano)
  • Celebrations without the Holiday — Asha at Meta Mom shares several ways to celebrate the winter holidays without focusing on religious traditions. (@metamomma)
  • Celebrating the Journey We Have Traveled Together — Acacia at Be Present enjoys the chance to draw closer to her family during the Christmas holiday.
  • Celebrating Motherhood — Do you celebrate the day you became a mother? Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers some ideas for traditions to mark your passage into motherhood. (@CodeNameMama)
  • Celebrate! Winter Traditions Brought Home. — At True Confessions of a Real Mommy, TrueRealMommy and her family are celebrating many different religions and traditions this month. Stop by to see their schedule of events. (@TrueRealMommy)
  • “Always Ready”, Holiday Style — Amy at Toddler In Tow discovered that it’s not the traditions themselves, but the emotional experience behind them that makes them special.


A Christmas Tradition

  1. I’m sorry you are away from everything you know but I am glad to read that you have found what makes the holidays special anyway. Enjoy your family and I’m sure you’ll get to do those things another year.

  2. I love your perspective here that not every Christmas has to be the very best one, that things ebb and flow and change, and that’s all right. Sam and I have had very different Christmases over the years of our marriage, but they’ve all been good in their own way — even the one we spent in a hotel, far from family, in a new city, with none of our usual decorations and hoopla. Even that we made merry.

    I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas.

  3. One of my favorite stories of Christmas was my parents first: they had nothing, so they spent the time fashioning stars out of cardboard and foil to decorate. This was then the inspiration for many years of spending the time creating Christmas together, no matter what we did or didn’t have. I hope you find the same!

  4. About a decade ago I spent Christmas with my sisters abroad. At the time it was so strange to be so far away from just about everyone else we knew … and now it’s a time I remember fondly. I wish you and your family a merry Christmas with each other this year!

    1. @Rachael, thanks so much Rachael. It feels strange and a little caveman like, what with no cookie cutters or rolling pin or bread pans or any of the other things I’d normally prepare for Christmas with, but I know, when the time comes, I shall rise to the challenge! Thanks for the comment and the wishes and the same to you and yours 🙂

  5. Nice gingerbread house! I’d like to make one from scratch one day. I love your dedication to cooking and baking. It’s my little girl’s second Christmas too! I also wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you find new ways to celebrate. P.S. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

  6. Thanks for that post! We’re in pretty much the same situation as you, also abroad and we’ll be celebrating Christmas alone. Indeed, being together with the people you love most is all that matters though. Hugs to you, and a merry Christmas as well!


    1. @Write About Birth, Thanks for the comment Olivia. Where are you abroad? You’ll find that being alone can be either very depressing or very uniting – it’s really about which one you choose 🙂 Best of luck and happy happy happy Christmas to you all 🙂

      1. @Luschka, We’re in Serbia. My kids were born here, so it’s not like we just got here or anything. But their traditions are totally different. They have Christmas on a different day (in January) for instance. Where are you? I wish you and your family a happy Christmas too!


  7. Awww lovely I’m sure your Christmas will be just as lovely this year if a little different – as long as you’re together with your girly it will be just fine xxxx

  8. Thanks for sharing. We too are in a country far from any extended relatives. However, it’s our third Christmas here, the last two were just the two of us and this is our first year with a child. We’re incorporating some familiar, some unique (fried goat cheese is a local specialty here, so it’s now part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner) traditions. I hope you enjoy your Christmas and find a way to share traditions in your new home!

  9. Being together really is the most important thing. I’m glad you all get to be together however unfortunate the circumstances are this year. Perhaps you could stat some new traditions this year that Kyra can enjoy with you like making a craft ornament with her hand print or a paper chain from newsprint, or going for a walk to admire the Christmas lights. Luckily there are still a few fun traditions to be had without needing money. I hope you find some that work for you. Cheers,

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