I always wake up early on Christmas. As a small child, this was probably pretty unremarkable. I was excited to see what new LEGO sets or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys Santa had brought. As I got a little older, I’d continue the tradition, reading R.L. Stine’s “Silent Night” books and my favorite Calvin and Hobbes Christmas comics (I’ve always had eclectic tastes, I guess!).
Today was no different. I woke up at exactly 4:30 a.m. for no real reason. No alarm. No agenda. Nothing to put under the Christmas tree–that’s all been done for days. Just a sense of excitement for my favorite day of the year.
Today is different, though. It’s our baby’s first Christmas. I’m even more excited than normal, which is probably pretty unremarkable for a new parent. We know that she, obviously, will not remember her first Christmas. But we will. And it has been our best Christmas ever; one filled with firsts and new traditions for us.
Despite my excitement on December 25, Christmas Day itself is honestly a little anticlimactic in our house. We’ve been celebrating since mid-November (we very much operate on “Disney Seasons”), watching Christmas movies and television specials. Decorating, playing Christmas games, making festive displays (gingerbread and LEGO), and forming new family traditions.
One such tradition–if you can call it that since we’ve been reading to her regularly since October–is reading Christmas stories to Megatron. Olaf’s Night Before Christmas is Sarah’s favorite, while I’ve become a big fan of the Disney100 Advent Calendar. Those of you who recommended book-based ones in the responses to our Disney Advent Calendars for Christmas were right on the money. Thank you!
Family traditions are something we’ve discussed for years, starting as what we dreamed about doing once we had kids. As expectations changed, that evolved in the last couple of years. We started to actually do things as a couple that we planned to continue on an annual basis. To be sure, we’ve always made a point of doing fun and memorable activities together during the holiday season–but not much that was a tradition, per se.
This year we’ve come full circle and have started those family traditions–and continued some from the last couple of years that made sense with a child. Unsurprisingly, Disney is central in this. Not just for the obvious reasons that we’re huge fans who run a Disney blog.
Even in the absence of that, I can’t think of many places with more holiday spirit than Disneyland in December. (We already covered that to some extent in Baby Bricker’s First Visit to Disney.) Not to needlessly hurl a Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland debate grenade into this, but there’s nothing like Disneyland at Christmas.
We love Walt Disney World and that’ll always be ‘home’ for the holidays, but it just isn’t the same. And we say that as a couple with far more nostalgia for the Florida parks at Christmas. We’ve “only” been doing Disneyland at Christmas since 2011–we’ve been Walt Disney World far longer. Taking our baby this holiday season has started to tip the ‘sentimentality scale’ towards Disneyland, though.
We since made baby’s second visit to Disneyland, which didn’t go as well as the first. Not that it went poorly–it was a ton of fun. Quite literally two of our best days ever in the parks. It just wasn’t nearly as memorable for us through her eyes…because they were closed most of the time!
It goes without saying that there’s going to be diminishing returns on this type of thing–firsts are usually notable for a reason. Even so, if you flip-flopped the substance of our first and second visits, the first would’ve been more memorable even if it occurred second. If that makes any sense at all.
(Don’t worry, I’m not going to write a standalone post about every single time we take Megatron to the parks. We’ll do a firsthand ‘trip report’ from her first time at Walt Disney World, but otherwise, we’ll switch gears and incorporate the experiences we have and lessons we learn into planning posts that are useful to others.)
Speaking of Walt Disney World, one family tradition that we plan to resume again for Christmas 2024 is visiting during our favorite week of the year. We missed it this year for obvious reasons, but are really looking forward to seeing Candlelight Processional, Merry Menagerie, and so much more as a family of three.
I think that technically counts as a tradition even though we didn’t do it this year–we’ve otherwise been going then since 2007. It’s a tradition that already includes our engagement, being newly-weds, and so much more. Next year, we look forward to adding baby’s second Christmas to that. Maybe that’ll tip the sentimentality scale back in the other direction. I guess we shall see.
As for traditions we did do this year, we saw a variety of light displays and had made special meals at home. We also enjoyed a Festivus feast at In-N-Out, after which Megatron aired her grievances that night. She has a lot of problems with us already, and we heard about it! 😉
Another tradition that began last year was Christmas Eve gelato followed by a walk on the beach. Last year, we rope dropped our favorite gelato spot (I could tell the staff was very impressed by our punctuality) and decided to make that a tradition. Getting out the door this year in time to make rope drop proved a tad difficult due to, ahem, technical difficulties…so I think we’ll drop the ‘at rope drop’ part of that tradition. Probably won’t be the last time we miss a rope drop.
You’ll have to forgive the stream-of-consciousness rambling. Again, I’m writing this at around 5 a.m., and I’ve somehow had not enough and too much coffee already this morning. (I can’t explain it, but if you know, you know.)
As mentioned above, watching Christmas movies and television specials are central to the holiday season for us. We’ve even developed a sort of cadence to this, starting with l0w-stakes Hallmark movies in November and early December (the best one this year was, by far, was My Norwegian Holiday), ramping up to the ones we love closer to Christmas.
Without fail–and this is nothing new–we save too many good ones for the 3-day stretch between Festivus and Christmas Day, and don’t make it to all of them. Which is perfectly fine; it’s probably better that we don’t get to everything and have more to anticipate for the following Christmas. Beyond what’s on our List of the Top 10 Disney Christmas Movies & Specials, here are some favorites we watched this year or will watch today and would recommend:
- A Claymation Christmas Celebration
- Garfield’s Christmas
- Die Hard
- A Storm for Christmas
- Home for Christmas
- Christmas with Walt Disney (MUST WATCH)
- White Christmas
- The Noel Diary
- Love Hard
- Let It Snow
- Feast of the Seven Fishes
- Pluto’s Christmas Tree
As I’m writing this right now, I’m also finishing up Home Alone, having fallen asleep about 15 minutes into it last night. (In addition to the under/over-caffeination, this multitasking might also explain the all-over-the-place quality of this post.)
I’m currently at the point where (spoiler alert on a 30-year old movie) Catherine O’Hara gets a ride home from John Candy (RIP). I need to finish this by the time the movie is over, so I should probably wrap this up.
We want to once again thank all of you for reading. We’ve been grateful for the joy and happiness you’ve shared for and with us, and frankly humbled that you actually care to read and comment on stories about our personal lives that are wholly unrelated to Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation planning. We couldn’t have prepared ourselves for the positive and uplifting response, but I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised–you all rock.
In particular, I also appreciate the patience you’ve shown. The last few months have been really busy and tiring, and I know I’ve slacked a bit in responding to comments and in the proofreading department. Not that this blog has ever been a bastion of typo-free or concise writing, but I know things have gotten more lax of late.
I just want to acknowledge this and let you know I’ll work to improve it in the new year. We appreciate the value of the time you take to read these articles; it is not taken for granted. So thanks for tolerating the tangents, granting some grace, and especially humoring my pop culture references and bad dad jokes. I’m really going to need to step up my game in the new year now that I’m an actual dad!
Anyway, this has been the best Christmas of our lives. Part of that has been the excitement of the Disney visits, and experiencing everything anew. Part of it has been forming the fun new traditions and revisiting familiar favorites.
Part of it has been the simple and mundane day-to-day life with a new baby–even including that dreaded witching hour. (It is awful in the moment, but we always have a good laugh the following morning.)
Part of it is being able to share some of those moments with you all. We really mean that. It’s now very easy to see why new parents post so many photos of their kids, as there’s this pride in every little thing they “accomplish,” even if every other kid does it. We “get” that now.
We’ll be back later this week with some posts looking forward to 2024. One of those is an updated Disney Bucket List/New Year’s Resolutions, which I discovered in my drafts folder. I had started it around this time last year and, suffice to say, a lot will be changing.
Speaking of things I stumbled upon, the below message is from Christmas 2012, which I’m sharing because I think it’s a fun trip down memory lane. For us, it’s wild to see how much has changed in the last decade-plus, but also how much stays the same. All of this remains accurate, right down to the cat currently pawing at my hand as I try to type (a third excuse for the distracted writing!):
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our family to yours! Regardless of what you celebrate during this holiday season, we hope you all have had a great holiday season filled with family, friends, fun, and…uhh…Figment? Sometimes the holidays can be hectic, fast-paced, and even stressful, but we hope you’ve had a relaxing holiday season, and if not…we hope a vacation is in the near future for you!
We’ll be back later this week with a “year in review” article as we look back and look forward, sharing some of our mundane plans for this blog in 2013. For now, we wanted to share holiday wishes with you all!
Here are some festive photos that our sons, Yossarian the Cat and Walter E. Dogsney, wanted to share with you. Although they don’t write articles for the blog (yet), they are actually big contributors. They typically fight for positioning on my lap as I sit down to write articles for the blog at night.
When he feels he hasn’t been pet enough, Yossarian the Cat stands up and attempts to block my view of the computer. Similarly, Walter barks at me when he believes we need to go outside to find squirrels. They have actually “helped” delay a number of articles with their editorial oversight. The boys are basically the glue that holds together the gears of this website!
Once again, Merry Christmas from the Brickers. We hope you likewise have had a happy holiday season with family and friends, and are making magical memories that will last a lifetime!
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What Christmas or other holiday traditions do you have to get into the spirit of the season? Any amusing anecdotes to share from this Christmas, Disney or otherwise? Any other thoughts you have in response to our latest family update? Anything else you’re interested in reading about with regard to Megatron, babies in the parks, etc? Stories of your own about first visits to the Disney parks? Any other questions? Hearing your feedback is always appreciated, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!