Family life

4 ways our Christmas traditions changed after kids

Jennifer Pinarski shares her family's less-than-perfect Christmas traditions.

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Photo: iStockphoto

1. Building gingerbread houses

Building and decorating gingerbread houses is a tradition we started four years ago when our son was only three. A pint-sized perfectionist, he works so hard to line everything up just so, only to have the whole house collapse — which makes him go into hysterics. Nevertheless, it’s a tradition that has stuck around and even inspired a new one — guessing which child could demolish their house the quickest. In 2014, we’re considering fireworks to help speed up the process.

2. Elf on a Shelf

Four years ago, my mother-in-law bought us an Elf on a Shelf, with the instructions that we were to hide him all over the house in surprising situations. My son and daughter read the book with us and thought it was really creepy that he’d spy on our family. Then my daughter thought that he had a sunburn or eczema and kept rubbing cream on his face. The Elf was a flop in our house and, besides, if the Elf really wanted to surprise us, he’d tidy up.

3. Celebrating Christmas Eve

Before our children were born, Christmas Eve was almost bigger than Christmas Day for our family. With Polish and Ukrainian heritage, my husband would spend the entire day making perogies, cabbage rolls and potato pancakes and we’d open a few gifts. That all changed seven years ago when our son was born via emergency C-section on December 24. Now we have birthday cake and open just his gifts instead. If you really want to change up your traditions, have a baby around the holidays. A certain amount of pre-planning is required for that.

4. Christmas Day dinner

Christmas dinners with families tend to be the most stressful of all. Our solution — don’t go! A few years ago, we opted out of travelling on Christmas Day, preferring to stay home in our jammies. Instead of a huge meal, we prepare a breakfast casserole the night before, chill some sparkling wine and OJ for mimosas and eat off paper plates.

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