The Children Take Over

Traditions are more important than how many gifts are under the tree on Christmas morning.

As an adult my grandmother used to give me one gift each Christmas, a different horse ornament to  hang on my tree.  I cherished these and looked forward to each new one.  My children also looked forward to that one small gift from me.  For my youngest it was eagles, my oldest received a small wolf themed present.

I wanted to continue that tradition with the grandchildren.

Every Christmas I give each grandchild a cross stitched ornament for their tree with the blessing of their parents.  Each design is selected based on the likes of the child.

The thought behind this was that one day, when they are grown and I am no longer here, they would have a reminder of how much I loved them when decorating for Christmas.

Not every child might cherish a handmade ornament instead of pricey toys, I’m lucky in that my grandchildren love to receive handmade items.

This year the oldest two turned the tables on me. They asked if I was going to make them ornaments again. When I told them I was they asked if this year they could finish them.

If I had ever questioned whether the children loved these ornaments I would have had my answer at this moment.

I pulled out the many mini designs I’d finished and let them pick out their favorites to take home and finish.  As I set out the completed designs the children acted as if it was already Christmas, in the end not only did the children pick out a couple for each of them but their father’s partner picked a couple she wanted to add to her tree.

I’m looking forward to seeing their finished ornaments.

Do you have a special tradition you cherish during the holidays?




  1. I’m surprised they wanted to finish them themselves. Kind of takes away some of the gifting it would seem to me. But then maybe they will cherish it more with their own touch added. I do not have any traditions in that manner. Life has been so fluid that each year comes as a surprise. We can count on each person getting a book but other than that, it’s just different each year. Your cross stitch is phenomenal. I have a cross stitch from a woman I worked with back in 1985-86. In perfect condition and still cherished. Of course there is your bookmark still lovely and bragged about.


    • I wasn’t disappointed at all. When they asked if I was making them ornaments I knew it meant they looked forward to them each year, you knew know if your gifts are truly appreciated. When they asked if they could complete them it wasn’t a disappointment because they are so used to working with me on anything I do from restoring furniture to designing clothes for them. I think this way they will have the added memory of the ornaments being a combined work.

      I’ve always given books and will continue to do so. All the children enjoy their books and even the adults in my family appreciate getting books. That said, handmade gifts are even more special in my family.

      Glad you enjoyed seeing some of my cross stitch projects, and still get plenty of use out of your bookmark. Btw, the fabric arrived today for your piece so I can start that next week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that sounds really special Lois, it’s so wonderful when they love a tradition so much they want to pitch in and take over. I never had any traditions as a child and so felt a certain freedom in building the festivals for my children to ensure they made memories worth keeping and honouring. Whenever we are together there are certain themes and activities carried on that honour the reason we are together – birthdays and Christmas being the main ones. It’s really lovely.


    • Pauline, personally I think we crave traditions. The only tradition we had when I was little was my great-aunt arriving for Christmas dinner with her wilted salad. It was the only time of the year she made it and because I loved it so it was the one thing I looked forward to on Christmas.


  3. Those are so cute and it’s interesting that your grandchildren wanted to be part of the process. I know they will cherish them.
    I did something similar every Christmas with my children and made or purchased an ornament based on an interest or event in their lives at year as well. I lost my son at age 15 and still have his but both daughters have theirs on their own trees each year. My daughter has continued the tradition with her four boys except they make a special day of going to a Christmas store and selecting their ornaments themselves. Being typical little boys, they now have some very “interesting” ornaments on their tree!


    • Cynthia, I knew you had lost your son, but didn’t realize he was so young, I’m so sorry for your loss I’m sure you still feel it deeply.

      I often wondered how much my boys enjoyed the traditions I tried to carry on each year for them, but like most things with children you don’t know until they are older what resonated with them and what didn’t. To have your daughters create traditions of their own shows how important to them your gifts were.

      This year, along with an individual ornament, I’ve done something very different. Instead of toys and such on Christmas day I made up little gifts of crafts and baking they can do on the days leading up to Christmas. I put together enough activities to do a 12 days of Christmas for them. They enjoy crafting and baking that I wanted to give them more experiences than stuff. They get so many gifts from all the relatives that they don’t even remember who gives them what.


  4. That’s a wonderful tradition. When I was a kid my grandmother used to make us ornaments each year. They were silk wrapped balls that she had painstakingly decorated with beads and sequins. But, then we got Sam, the cat – and, well… the era of beautiful ornaments came to a rather unceremonious end – as did the era of real Christmas trees!

    I have to say, it was a memorable Christmas. From Sam’s perspective it was the best Christmas present ever… her very own tree, fully equipped with colorful toys from top to bottom! What I remember is the tree crashing down numerous times in the middle of the night, and the bits of silk, sequins, and beads found all over the house, and my mother swearing us to secrecy over the demise of the beautiful ornaments! I still don’t know if Grandma ever found out what really happened, but after that we stopped getting ornaments every year! 🙂


    • Cat, how awful to lose those ornaments to the cat but even worse that that’s the last time you had a real tree! I bet that was quite hard to keep your secret from your Grandma. Me, I would have avoided eye contact with her for a few years as I’m horrible at keeping secrets of that nature.


  5. Back when I embroidered cross stitch I made a few small Christmassy things. This year, a small Christmas Rose hanging ornament and a Christmas cake band (also Christmas roses) are back with me after 20-25 years with my Granny, so now I know I’ll be making a Christmas cake!! I am very touched because the ornament hung in her living room year round and she enjoyed using the cake band each year, too – her cakes were legendary and she made them for a lot of people, so we want to continue that tradition for sure.
    Having said that, the Christmas goose ornament I made for my MIL also embellishes a pewter pot year-round in her living room, which I wouldn’t have expected. Nice, though.
    I was rarely able to get any enthusiasm out of my girls for cross-stitch. I did a dreamcatcher picture for the eldest that she cherishes, though, and in turn, she did most of a Celtic air-fire-water one – recently she said she must finish it, so I will let you know when we do get back to embroidery, Lois! LOL!
    Lovely that yours wanted to get involved and do the finishing…


    • How lovely to have your handwork returned to you. What kind of Christmas cakes did your granny make? Mine made a fruit cake every year that was given to everyone she knew. It was the only fruit cake I ever liked.

      My grandchildren want to learn to cross stitch but I don’t have a lot of patience to teach. I’ve worked with the oldest granddaughter and find that she has to have me sitting right there watching every stitch or she forgets what she’s doing. 🙂


      • Granny made traditional English fruit cakes that get better after months of storage and “feeding”! She was also great at cake decoration and from the age of 13 until she was 95 made and decorated cakes for many many family occasions – weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, you name it. And yes, she made several every Christmas to give away. She was proud of her skills. I have wonderful photos of her decorating her great-granddaughter’s 3-tier wedding cake at the age of 90; she had travelled from England to Switzerland for the wedding and danced the night away with the groom’s 86yr old grandma. When we packed up and went home around midnight, she asked in a surprised tone, but I thought Swiss weddings went on until 4 am?! lol
        Cross-stitch would seem simple and repetitive enough but my girls struggled, too, and didn’t enjoy the activity. I was taught at school at the age of 7; we were given pieces of striped cotton to practice various embroidery stitches on, with the stripes to guide us (checks would work even better), about 1/4″ apart. The teacher then sewed the fabric into draw-string bags for us to use for our gym shoes. I still have the border scrap of embroidery, though the bag itself got damaged and cut away at some point. Maybe the larger scale helped? Perhaps the classic aida fabric is just too small-gauge for young kids?


        • Your granny was definitely talented! Yes, our fruit cakes were made months ahead of time and “fed” as well. My grandmother used an old German recipe from her family so it might have been very similar to what your granny made.

          I’m surprised you learned embroidery at school. We didn’t have those type of classes here, never heard my grandmother talk about any sewing or other needlework classes either. I’m glad you still have your first embroidery, what a nice memento from school.


  6. Another lovely post, Lois, and one that has triggered so many memories! We had traditions at home when I was younger and I kept some and added others when my boys were young, too.
    I won’t try to share all of them; this would be longer than a week’s worth of posts if I did.

    We always received a gift from our parents and one from Santa; some years we were lucky enough to find gifts from some of the relatives under the tree as well. It may not sound like much, but when you have nine children, that’s a nice sized pile of presents. We had stockings first thing, then breakfast, then the turkey was stuffed and put in the oven. After that we opened the gifts. Dad would direct one of the children to choose a gift, the names to and from would be read out and mum would record them (for thank-you notes later). We’d had one memorable Christmas when gifts were just torn into by the mob and no one remembered who had given them what. Embarrassing for our parents, for sure. The best thing about the more controlled opening was that it made the time pass more slowly and each gift was passed around and admired before the next was brought forth. Savouring is so important.

    Small ones played with gifts, the boys brought in more wood for the furnace and fireplace and I helped with the last of the dinner preparations. Sometimes the next oldest girl set the table; sometimes I did. Dad would play his guitar or the little chord organ and sing. An early dinner and then the cards, cribbage board and board games came out! And most years there was a jigsaw puzzle to set up on Boxing Day on the dining table. That was covered with plastic during the meals, then uncovered and the work went on,

    Sometime during the evening there were turkey and stuffing sandwiches and once the dinner was over there were Christmas cookies and cake to enjoy, usually with hot chocolate (we called it ‘cocoa’ back then). More games and fun after the tidy-up, and then usually a late snack before heading to bed. The babies would have been seen to earlier by Mum and me.

    On Boxing Day we played, ate leftovers and more baking, sang and played music together, and usually read one of our new books. Toys were often creative, such as Tinker Toy and Meccano sets; one year I received a ‘make your own perfume’ kit from my cousin’s Mum.

    I really do have to write a couple of Christmas poss; you have brought back so much to me.

    I love your tradition of making Christmas ornaments for each grandchild. I’ll have to see about doing some myself this year. Thanks for the inspiration!

    ~ Linne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Linne, what wonderful memories of Christmas to carry with you. As you know it’s not about the presents, or how many, but the love and togetherness we get to experience during the holidays that make them memorable later.

      I have noticed that when there are lots of presents for children they are overwhelmed and it detracts from the enjoyment they might otherwise have had.

      Since I moved my son and his wife pick me up early to have Christmas with them and have the children wait to open presents until we are all together, then we open gifts one at a time. Of course if there were piles of gifts this wouldn’t be possible. Each year I am impressed that the children aren’t bothered by not being able to open presents the moment they wake.


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