Favorite Kid-Friendly Christmas Traditions

Parent Life

My partner and I are raising our two kids, Pax (4) and Veda (2), in a truly blended cultural home. Our day-to-day lives reflect mostly Hindu values and traditions. However, on an annual basis we recognize and honor all the major holidays in Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faith, including Christmas.

I grew up in a non-religious Christian home where Christmas was a big deal. While we never went to church or talked much about Jesus, my mom always made sure this time of year was filled with fun traditions. Now that I have a family of my own, I’m bringing back my favorite traditions and starting new ones.

The Nutcracker | Back before COVID made it impossible to be out in public, going to the Nutcracker was a must for me! The act of getting dressed in fancy clothes, heading downtown to the ballet, finding our velvet-lined seats amidst the rows and rows of people….all of it sparks fond memories. The music, costumes and dancing are all beautiful and strike the tone of Christmas just perfectly for me. I’m very much looking forward to taking my kids once the virus is under control and local productions start back up.

Santa | The big man is a source of pure joy and excitement for my kids. The talk about where he lives, what he eats, when he comes to visit, and if he’s been sick from the virus is never ending. My son has been asking for Santa to bring him presents all year long, which is kinda cute and also a little terrifying. In our house, Santa brings basic, inexpensive gifts that nearly all children can expect to get. Think underwear, socks, pajamas, etc. Now that my kids are slightly older, I’m needing to pay a little more attention to how these gifts arrive and what they are wrapped in. My mom wrapped all Santa gifts in plain old newspaper because it was cheap and he was always in a hurry, naturally. So, that’s what I’ll be doing this year!

Presents | While our kids have plenty of toys, we definitely keep things on the more slim side compared to other families. Christmas is a tricky time where it can be really hard to avoid going overboard. All year long whenever my son makes a request for some toy, I got into the habit of adding it to the “Santa List”. This ended the conversation with him knowing it wasn’t going to happen today but also planted a seed of hope it would come on Christmas. Well, I’ve really dug myself into a hole with this one. My partner and I have decided to get each of our kids one main gift, and as I mentioned above, Santa isn’t bringing anything extravagant. I’ve done all my shopping and wrapping and the gifts are currently stashed in our bedroom, hidden haphazardly under a blanket. Now, when do I put them under the tree?? I honestly can’t remember what my mom did for us when I was little. I do remember presents collecting under the tree slowly starting when the tree went up after Thanksgiving, but was that always the case? There’s no way I can put presents out now, have my two toddlers see them, and not expect some kind of trouble. For the foreseeable future I think we will put them out after the kiddos are asleep.

Sullivan’s North Pole Express | OMG, if you live anywhere near Indianapolis I HIGHLY encourage you to check this out!! The geniuses at Sullivan’s Hardware on Keystone have gone above and beyond to provide an epic train ride to the North Pole. It starts with each family loading into their own personal train car. The conductor then drives us through many (8, 9?) different vignettes all winter and Christmas themed with animatronic animals and people. The journey ends at the North Pole where the four families on that train ride get a total of 20 minutes to meet with Santa and take pictures. While we wait for our turn with Santa, there are coloring and crafts set out to occupy little hands. Once the 20 minutes is up, we load back into our train car and leave the North Pole, going by several more vignettes, just as amazing as the first set. Tickets are hard to come by – this year they went on sale at 4pm the Sunday after Thanksgiving and all weekend times were gone when I logged on 9am Monday morning.

Winterlights at Newfields | This is one of our favorite Christmas traditions put on by the Indianapolis Museum of Art (now called Newfields) in their outside gardens. With over 1.5 million lights, the entire experience is straight out of a fairytale. My favorite part is the light and music choreographed scene on the lawn in front of the historic Lilly House. Lights dance along in beautiful patterns as music from the Nutcracker plays. Top it all off with hot chocolate and smores and it’s really a winder wonderland. We will NEVER miss this. Oh, and it happens to be the brain child of our dear friend Jonathan Wright – former neighbor and now uncle to our kids. Even if we weren’t partial to Uncle Jonathan we would still love Winterlights:)

Lights | The past few weekend evenings we’ve loaded our kids into the car and driven around in search of the best Christmas decorations in various neighborhoods around the city. Since it gets dark pretty early right now, we have no trouble finishing up an early dinner and light-spotting for at least an hour before our bedtime routine starts. Listening to the kids squeal and giggle at light displays is probably one of the best noises I’ve every heard. My son especially loves the multi-colored lights and inflatable snowmen. If you know of neighborhoods in central Indy with good lights, please do tell! We are always looking for high-density lights.

Is the magic of Christmas alive and well in your house with young kids? What traditions to you practice with your family this time of year? I’d love to know!

Let’s stay in touch!

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