A Heartwarming Holiday Tradition Your Child Will Treasure Forever

My favorite holiday tradition is to gift each of my children a special book and letter every Christmas Eve. This tradition allows me to take some time during the holiday hustle and bustle to reflect on the past year and provide my children with a meaningful gift that will accompany them throughout their life.

I first came across this tradition when I was teaching 3rd grade. One of my students brought in a book to share with the class. She explained that it was one of her favorite treasures because it was one of the books that her mom presented to her on her birthday every year. Each book included a letter written especially to her. Right then and there, I decided that one day when I had children I would start a similar tradition.

When my children arrived I determined that I would present them with a book each Christmas Eve that reminded me of something that had happened over the past year. On the inside cover I would include a letter detailing their important milestones, antidotes that I didn’t want to forget, and a heartfelt message of my feelings for them. I saw this as a way to not only document their childhood, but to make sure that would have way to carry my words with them through life when the day comes when I can no longer tell them in person how much they mean to me.

Growing up my family had a tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve. My husband and I decided to continue that tradition, but we decided that the present each child opens would be their special Christmas book. This allows us a chance to sit and read the letter and book together without the mad rush of excitement on Christmas morning taking that moment of reflection away from us.

Each December I set aside a day to order a holiday latte and make a leisurely visit to our local bookstore. I browse the shelves, reading book jackets, admiring illustrations until the perfect book for each child speaks to me. Some years the book is a holiday story, other years a childhood favorite of my own, and sometimes its a book that my child checked out from the library so many times that I knew we just had to add it to our personal collection. I make a point to tell each child in my letter why I chose that particular book for them.

Next, I carve out an hour or two of quiet time during the next couple weeks to sit down and put my thoughts and feelings about the past year into words. Here is a list of things I like to include in my letter:

  • age/grade/school
  • milestones
  • friends
  • favorite song, book, toy, outfit, snack
  • interests and activities
  • a funny antidote
  • personality traits
  • words of wisdom
  • my love

I don’t reread the letters I’ve written very often, but when ever I do I am surprised how quickly I have forgotten the important details that seemed so unforgettable when we were experiencing each  childhood stage. The letters have reminded me about the time that I found my daughter sitting in the middle of a mountain of cheerios, the box upside down, happily munching away and how my son used to twirl my hair whenever he needed to sooth himself as a baby and toddler. It makes me sad to realize how much I have probably forgotten that went unwritten and grateful for the foresight to document the memories I did.

I have linked the books that I have chosen for my own children below if you  would like a few book recommendations for the little ones on your list or would like to start a new tradition for your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or special little one in your life.  Click on the pictures below to read a summary, book reviews or purchase online.

The Night Before Christmas
Princess Penelope
The Littlest Angel
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words
Dinosaur Bones
The Carpenter’s Gift
Mitchell’s License
I Believe In You
If I Could Keep You Little
Fancy Nancy Fanciest Doll in the Universe
Drummer Boy
CC Clause: A Baseball Christmas Story
The Gift of the Magi
I Wish You More
How to Catch Santa
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods
Velveteen Rabbit
Fanny in France
Oskar and the Eight Blessings

It is never too late to start a new tradition. The gift of a book and a letter is a wonderful way to celebrate a milestone. I hope you are as inspired by this tradition as I was all those years ago listening to my student. I would love to hear if you decide to do something similar for your loved ones or if you have a tradition that should be shared with others!

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