This year, we are spending Christmas at home, the four of us. We usually go to Portugal, spending the holidays with our extended family. This year, we’ll be staying at home, here in the US.

I think many families will find a different time this year. 

For us, we will follow the Portuguese traditions.

We will eat bacalao, the one we buy salted dry! Before we cook it we need to desalt it in water for 2 days, changing every 12 hours! Then we boil the bacalao, with potatoes and a special cabbage very big and thick.

This is the Portuguese tradition: eat boiled bacalao, boiled potatoes, and boiled cabbage… we add some olive oil before serving. That’s it! Portuguese Christmas Eve dish tradition!

Then we have the dessert, Christmas king’s cake, a cake with different dry fruits, some type of fried dumpling dough with sugar and cinnamon. I like the ones with some pumpkin puree, which the translation will be “Pumpkin Dreams”. The dessert is accompanied with a Port wine.

We will wait for Santa until midnight to drop the presents. We open presents at midnight!

We are all up until midnight, including our children!

Each country has its own tradition, and even in each country, they have their habits, according to their religion or background.

This is how we are spending Christmas, in a Portuguese way.

In my house, my son will be Santa, so he will put on Santa’s costume and do the voices HoHoHo. Mia, normally gets very serious and then cries! This year she is almost three, so let’s see. But the overall scene and preparation brings a lot of joy to the house.

This year, we are trying to figure out how to build the seasonal mood for our family. When we go to Portugal, we are on vacation, so naturally, we are in festive mode. Meeting our family and friends, and making the time for the season.

Being at home, the four of us, it is easy to keep being busy with the life routine and forget the drive of the season. Even at work and with some group of friends, there are not many Christmas events going on.

So it is up to ourselves making it happen!

We used two strategies to keep the buzz of the season and create some intentionality during December:

1 – Keep your traditions and create events around those traditions

2 – Build new traditions

Like that you will have a lot to plan, building so many good memories, making the month of December a season of events to celebrate. Small actions with big impact!

This is about making time to live the moment.

Build in the small tasks as an event.

And do it bigger!

Example to keep your traditions and create events around those traditions: 

Buying the bacalao and the cabbage was an event! We had to find a place here in the US where we could buy the specific bacalao like we do in Portugal, so this was a lot of conversation at the dinner table talking about the bacalao, and I even took the day off to go and buy it, driving 45 minutes to reach the place.

Then we order the Christmas King’s cake in a bakery, also 45 minutes away from where we live! So on Christmas Eve we have a drive to do, all the family to pick our order!

This is a lot of fun, because we can talk and share with our children the memories we have with these types of moments and at the same time build new memories with them.

Example of building new traditions: 

We are watching a series of Christmas movies during December. We did the wishing list to send to Santa together as a family.

Remember the goal is to have a good time together, having an excellent excuse to do something different.

We make it fun! We make it to our way!

Movies, we watched several on Netflix. There are these two, Angela’s Christmas that we loved (less than 40 minutes each), which touched my heart, as it was told in a story back in the beginning of the 1900s, so the scenario is so different from nowadays.

Angela’s Christmas Wish touched our hearts, and we adopted the statement from the movie now… including the baby!

When mom was telling a story, she said to her children:”…It’s Christmas Eve, listen to your hearts, listen to what they want, and say it with me I WISH, I WISH, I WISH…”, with our eyes closed and the hand in our chest. It is just beautiful!

Ok, the baby said, then I wish I could eat pizza!!! 🙂 Of course, we started to laugh. 

But it is just beautiful building these memories of simple things. And at storytime, we now build on this story of I WISH with her.

For this Christmas or this holiday, I WISH, I WISH, I WISH you are happy!

And I believe this is possible because it depends on you.

I know it can be a different situation. But you control what you can control! And can control so many things during the season! One of them is to create your own memories.

How are you celebrating this Christmas? Share some fun in the comments below!



Take care. Have a fantastic time with your loved ones!


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