we need a little christmas.

I go home on Wednesday for a week, and I'm going to admit, I'm not sure how much blogging I'm going to get done while I'm there. My mom has pretty much every minute packed with Justesen Christmas Family Fun, and I'm planning on soaking it all up. And with the free time I do have, I'm filling it up by reading "Outliers" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray," as well as eating at all the places you only find out there.

So today I want to write about all things Justesen Family Christmas. I'm really big on traditions. Especially since I've been away at college, there is something so familiar and secure about going home and knowing exactly what will happen. I think it makes Christmas a little bit more magical. The traditions in my family include:

1. Sugar cookies. And chocolate chip cookies, and snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies. Essentially, cookies everywhere. All the time.

2. The annual trip to San Francisco. S.F. is my favorite city in all the land, and we generally take the hour and a half drive down there a few days before Christmas. The lights at Union Square are beautiful, the trolleys are decorated, and the air is cold, but not too cold. I absolutely love it. And China Town. CHINA TOWN!

3. The Nutcracker. This is one of my favorites. Almost every year, my mom and sister and I go to Sacramento to see the ballet. Whitney and I have both danced in The Nutcracker, and watching it brings back some pretty sweet memories.

4. Christmas movies. Our two favorites are "The Santa Claus" and "The Preacher's Wife." We're also big fans of claymation Rudolph {"she said I'm cuuuuute!!!!!"} and Santa, as well as Burgermeister Meisterburger and the Heat Miser. Just writing about these gets me all sorts of giddy.

5. Looking at lights. We have two places we generally go. Either the neighborhood in downtown Sacramento called the Fab Forties {holy amazing houses, and fun fact: Ronald Reagan lived in this neighborhood}, or the neighborhood near my house that lines every single street with luminaries. I know lots of neighborhoods do that, But I think this neighborhood was one of the originals. Because they've been doing it every year since I was at least 8. We usually get a hot chocolate or five or six at Starbucks while doing this.

6. Chocolate advent calendars. I think I'm on my 23rd advent calendar. Even when we're all away at school, my mom still mails them to us. It's funny how excited I still get to open the little door each day and see what picture is on the chocolate inside.

7. Dad as Santa Claus. This tradition has been retired for about 8 years, but I can guarantee that once the first grandkid hits it'll be back. When my parents were first married, my mom sewed my dad this incredible Santa costume, and when we were growing up he would come visit our elementary school classes. We had to swear we wouldn't tell our classmates who he really was. :)

8. THE TREE. How do you feel about Christmas trees? I love them. Do you know what I love even more? A real tree. We've always had a real tree. One of the best parts of Christmas is packing up your whole family and heading to a tree lot where all six of you get to fight over which tree is the best. :) I'm always partial to the scrawny Charlie Brown trees because I feel bad for them, but no one ever seems to agree with me. Someday when I have my own house I'll have all the Charlie Brown Christmas trees.

9. The Christmas story. Like most families we make sure to do all that we can to keep our focus where it should be on Christmas, and one of my most favorite things is on Christmas eve, after we've eaten our Mexican food for dinner {another tradition}, we sit in our family room as someone reads the story of the Savior's birth. Then we read other Christmas stories, like the one about the Babushka or the little match girl. It's a really special tradition.

I know we have many, many more traditions, but these are the ones that really make it feel like Christmas to me. And there isn't anything much better than that. What traditions do you have, or wish you have?

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