There are so many traditions that families can build up together without feeling the need to give into that instant gratification. When I realized the true meaning of Christmas, and after being sealed to my husband in the temple, we decided to build traditions that would last a lifetime. From that day forward we would go to the temple each year on our sealing date as well as our wedding anniversary. We also took our girls to temple square each Christmas to see the lights and sometimes we got tickets to see the First Presidency Christmas Devotional (which by the way airs this Sunday at 6pm.) at Temple Square. Since we no longer reside in Utah we've been watching it in the comforts of our own home for the past five years.
We now try to keep the tradition of going to Macy's in New York City to see Santa, and go walk through Central Park. We are going to attempt to go ice skating this time! We also love to go to the D.C. temple to see the Christmas lights at the visitors center.
The day after Thanksgiving we get the tree out and decorate it as a family. Some families can go and pick out a Christmas tree at their favorite tree orchard, and decorate it together. We usually drive around certain neighborhoods to see Christmas lights. I remember the year Noah was born we acted out the nativity scene, had Noah as the baby Jesus, and read the story of Jesus. It was simple, and very meaningful. He was so cute all bundled up.
We always open one gift on the eve of Christmas, and because we have moved around so much we always give a little something to our neighbors that pertains to the church so that they can get a feel of who we are, and to let them know we are here for them if they need anything. Whether it's a DVD of the Savior, or even baked goodies. I also started a tradition of having a separate stocking for Jesus and putting a gift inside for Him. We usually write down the things we'd like to change about ourselves throughout the year, or whatever comes to our mind.
One of my favorite traditions is collecting Christmas stories and reading the same ones every year. One of our favorites is I Believe in Santa Claus, and the Tale of the Three Trees . The kiddos LOVE these books. Even my 16 year old! Sierra and Lexie especially love to read the The Forgotten Carols story as well as playing the songs on the piano and violin.
I feel so good inside knowing that I started these traditions with my family long ago, and no matter how hard times can get financially, we always manage to at least keep one. We are a selfless family, and it doesn't matter to us what we do.
As long as we have each other, that's all that matters.