Traditions: Christmas and Throughout the Year


Several times when I was little, my father hired a local, older gentleman (who had a real beard) to play Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. My dad would leave the toys outside and at the appointed time, Santa would appear and my parents would wake me.

The piece de resistance?  

My father was a hunter and kept a deer hoof explicitly for the purpose of making reindeer tracks in the snow to be more convincing.

I believed. 

Oh, I believed so much that I would get into arguments at school about Santa. After all, I had the evidence of hoofprints and meeting the man!

I look back now and smile at the memories…and although I know it’s essentially lying, I chose to do the same thing with my daughter. I just felt that childhood gets cut short sometimes and that this was a tangible way to make magic come alive. And no, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make the holidays magical. 

When it was my turn, I didn’t wish to make prints in the snow, but I did find the perfect local gentleman. He and his wife dressed up together as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and did the rounds, thoroughly enjoying their adventures. I made sure to get my daughter to bed so that she would be a little groggy when I woke her up and I was even able to pull this off when my dad was still with us so he could witness the passing of the torch. This visit would be gleefully talked about for months!  

Both my dad and I tried to keep holidays and various times throughout the year fun. See if any of our traditions or the ones I’ve picked up along the way could work for your family:

Literary Advent Calendar:

My friend Molly brilliantly wrapped individual Christmas books and allowed her kids to open one each day in December, leading up to The Night Before Christmas on the 24th. The tradition continued even when the books weren’t new because they became known treasures. There are other fun ways to do Advent calendars, even including an Elf on the Shelf reboot

Christmas Tree:

We’ve tried to make it a tradition of tagging a tree we like before Thanksgiving and then going to pick it up on Black Friday. It gets us in the spirit, the smell is exquisite and the site of my two loves (dressed appropriately) driving in a Jeep with the top off and a tree in the back makes for permanent, cheery memories. Here is a site to help you find a Christmas Tree Farm near you.

Looking for Lights:

There is something special about lights! We would convince my dad to ‘drive the long way home’ each December to see the houses that had great displays of lights. Even today, we grab a hot cocoa, put a holiday station on and go driving all over the seacoast searching for beautiful lights. At its core, it’s really just family time together that counts.

Christmas Eve:

Growing up, my brother and I nearly lost our minds with excitement. My parents chose to assuage us with a deal: 1 present could be opened on Christmas Eve. You had to choose carefully! We loved this tradition and it seemed to space out the toys. We both would sleep with our new favorite toy.

Tooth fairy:

I think most parents do this, but we added hand-written notes (written in our non-dominant hand) on tiny paper and silver dollars. I still have some saved to this day.


Did you know they visit on St. Patrick’s Day and like to play pranks, leave green footprints, notes and treasures? This morphed into us building elaborate traps (they are attracted to glitter, just FYI) with pretty cool engineering elements. We would even write notes back and forth long after the holiday with the leprechauns always writing in teeny, green, old-fashioned cursive.

Sweet, Sour, Sugar, Flower:

At dinner time, we each share 4 things – a good thing from our day, a not-so-great thing, something we’re grateful for and (just like you might make a wish by blowing on a dandelion flower) we make a wish for the next day. I liked how this was a way to learn about our days, but keep the emphasis positive.

Stargazing in August:

It’s warm and a hot-bed for meteor showers. We still continue to this day to drive up Mt. Agamenticus to view these mesmerizing shows or hit one of the beaches in Rye. It’s fun staying up late, bringing snacks and sharing in the awe-inspiring action. Stargazing on the Seacoast is such a blast, even in colder months!

Halloween Tricks & Treats:

It doesn’t seem like Halloween if we don’t watch Hocus Pocus (have you heard? They are making a prequel!) and “Boo-ing” where I seem to have innocently taught my little one to ding dong ditch. It’s adorable though…and focusing on giving which I love.

With these traditions, we celebrate being together, simple pleasures and enjoying the moment. It gives us times to look forward to and a way in which to relive sweet past memories. I’ve felt so connected to my girl during these events and had an absolute blast making these happen. I’m supportive of whatever she decides to do when/if she becomes a parent, but by the way in which she has eagerly looked forward to all of the above, I’m guessing I might see this happen for my future grandkids one day. My dad will be smiling!

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Hi, I’m Kelly! I fell in love with the seacoast while at UNH and thank my lucky stars to have been able to call this area my home since then! I became a local elementary school teacher and happily taught as a classroom teacher and reading specialist for 20 years. During that time, I had my daughter, was a Girl Scout leader for many years, and went through 2 divorces. Lots of good memories…and lots of hard lessons learned. My most recent life lesson: one must take care of themselves while parenting & working! Yep, my body gave out in and was demanding a healthier lifestyle. Finally, I listened, made major changes and went back to school for yoga, health coaching, life coaching, mindfulness and reiki. My mission now is to help others, especially moms and teachers that have put everyone else first and are ready to be healthier and happier themselves. I am a certified coach that works 1:1 to create lasting lifestyle, mindset & nutrition changes. I live with my husband & daughter in Portsmouth. Travel, adventure, nature, redecorating and family movie nights are the things that light me up and bring me energy. My goal is to live as large as possible while trying to make a positive dent in this world. Connect with me on Instagram @wellnesslemonade, facebook: or