By Katie Moosbrugger
Today we continue to share share holiday traditions from friends and fans. It’s not too late to adopt some of these wonderful traditions that we’ve shared. HERE is a link to yesterday’s “Favorite Holiday Traditions” post in case you missed it. If you have a tradition to share, please comment below. Enjoy the stories below, and Merry Christmas Eve!
I’ll start with our own family’s traditions. Each year we attend the children’s mass at our church on Christmas Eve where my kids look forward to participating in such roles as angel, shepherd, inn keeper, or Mary or Joseph in the Christmas Eve program. After mass, we celebrate with a nice dinner out, then home again to open one small gift. On Christmas morning, we stay in our PJs all day long while enjoying gift exchanges, a very casual brunch and early dinner, family games, calls to family near and far, and quality time with one another. Our kids love to spend that time at home on Christmas Day. Since our extended families live far away, we typically travel after Christmas Day to visit with family and friends and ring in the New Year. It’s truly the best of all worlds. ~ Katie M
My husband and I wanted to teach our three-year-old that Christmas is about kindness and generosity, rather than simply getting toys. So after asking friends for ideas and doing some research online, we decided to have our son do 24 acts of kindness in the days leading up to Christmas. On each morning in December, he pulls out a slip of paper from his advent calendar that has on it his act of kindness for the day. The acts are simple and age appropriate, like “help a friend at school clean up his/her mess,” “pick out a toy of yours to donate to charity,” and “sing a song to your great-grandmother via Facetime.” Writing acts of kindness for him only took me about half an hour, but the payoff has been huge. He has been so excited to do his act each day, and the acts have prompted many conversations about kindness, generosity, and why we celebrate Christmas! I think this will be a new tradition for us each December. ~ Allie B
We have several traditions. To start, we cut our own tree in our woods every year. It is 100 percent Charlie Brown, but oh so fun and memorable. Our kids also make gift for their siblings. Nothing is store bought. They still talk about their handmade gifts from years past whereas the store bought gifts are in the attic and long forgotten. Another favorite tradition is finding snow (powdered sugar) footprints in our house and Santa’s hat on the hearth on Christmas morning. ~ Amy W
As a new mom, I’m still coming up with creative ways to make Christmas very special and memorable at our home. My son just turned two so this Christmas will be fun for sure! Last year and the years to come, we go visit all our family/friends and deliver gifts on Christmas Eve. Then, come home put on fresh NEW pajamas, make cookies for Santa, and read a Christmas book of choice just before bed. On Christmas Day we stay home all day enjoying each other. We wake up super early, open gifts, eat a nice breakfast and an amazing Christmas dinner, prepared by yours truly(me!) 🙂 We eat, laugh, and watch Christmas movies all day. I would like to continue to keep Christmas gifts from Santa and parents somewhat small, so the expectation doesn’t get too high every year. I’m a big believer in just cherishing family time and enjoying the company of each other. ~ Courtney J
The tree branches, heavy and drooping with handmade creations from elementary school days in Oregon, next to our children’s treasured keepsakes. Our kitchen counter covered with cookie recipes handed down generations, each recipe baked with chaos, mess and love, and filling our home with sweet smells and memories. The sound of my husband’s voice reading, “The Night Before Christmas,” to our kids snuggled together in bed, just as his dad read to three boys each Christmas Eve. Angel Tree gifts carefully selected, wrapped and donated to children who deserve a holiday filled with memories and magic, too. A small pickle, hanging from a spot deep within the tree branches, waiting to be discovered on Christmas morning; a tradition we picked up while living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Breakfast with Santa, gingerbread houses, Advent calendars, cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, phone calls to west coast family and Midwest friends as we flip through the calendar my mom filled with photographs from the past year. Our holiday tradition. All the little joys, and the people we have shared them with, together in spirit in our home. ~ Kam A
I love spending Christmas in Bermuda! It is a time to spend with family eating great local dishes like Bermuda Cassava Pie, Fish Chowder (a soup), Mussel Pie, fruit cake and local Egg Nogg. I come from a large family. On my mom’s side my grandparents had 9 kids, so you could imagine the amount of cousins I have. In my family, we always spend the evening of Christmas together with the entire family at my family estate where my grandparents still live. We have lots of fun eating, watching TV, talking politics, religion, history and about local events, playing games, singing karaoke, and in the end opening Christmas gifts. Christmas is family time! Merry Christmas!! God bless. ~ Kennette B
When I married my husband Michael we inherited a lot of his old stuff from his childhood home. One box was full of his old Christmas ornaments. His mom would make or purchase an ornament for her three children every year. I decided to carry on this tradition. Each year our children are given an ornament. Some years they are all themed (e.g., nutcrackers). Some years I try to find ones that match their interests at the time (e.g., Thomas the Tank Engine, ballerina). This year I let them all pick one out themselves, but every year they have added to their own collection. It is my hope that one day this collection will leave our home and become a part of their future Christmas celebrations. With four children our tree is now full with their colorful, whimsical, and playful ornaments. It is a sight to behold (especially when they do all of the decorating!) ~ Yvette B
Our Christmas tradition is that Santa brings each child three gifts. We decided to do this because we figured even if money was really tight, we could always manage three gifts. Also, in a world where more is more, we wanted one more reminder of the true meaning of Christmas; the kids questioning “just” three gifts always opens the conversation of Jesus’ birth and the three wise men. I will admit, though, that Santa brings the best gifts (I don’t care about getting credit), and our kids receive things from us as well. Our routine of opening Santa gifts and stockings, eating breakfast, then opening presents from each other makes the special morning last a little bit longer. ~ Jill S
Our family loves playing card and board games together. Every year, we buy a brand new family game for Christmas. This year we are buying “Game of Things.” SHHHHH! It’s a surprise! Some of my fondest memories from childhood involved playing games with my Grandmother Ruby at her dining room table. Lots of late nights, Dr. Pepper, life conversations, and plenty of laughs. My wife’s grandmother, who is 86, is an absolute card shark. She is the silent assassin and regularly beats us. We thoroughly enjoy the quality time we get to spend together and the conversations that stem from the games. Our children especially love being able to play the games with their grandmothers and great grandmother. We hope they continue this tradition even when they have kids! ~ Moose L
Christmas is always a super busy season, rife with joy and celebration and chaos! We have tried and rejected many traditions in our quest to make our own family way. One of my favorite thing we have created is our Christmas Eve is the Fireplace Pajama Picture! Each year since 2009 we’ve made our own matching pajama’s and we work together as a family to design and sew them. Finally, on Christmas Eve, after the children’s church service we unwrap them, set the timer on the camera and smoosh together in front of the fireplace. There is always giggling and laughing, and hot cocoa waiting, and then somebody is pouting and someone gets poked and pinched and sad faced. So it is this beautifully, silly, and achingly raw microcosm of being a family with young kids, with chaos and jubilance mingling there on the hearth with anticipation and hope. The camera flashes, and there we are.. all of us, even my husband and I dolled up, decked out, smiling ear to ear, looking like a snuggly gang, because we are, all of us, kids at Christmas. The pajamas don’t have to be homemade, (although ours are), they don’t have to match (ours tend to coordinate at the least), but there is something truly wonderful about cramming together like a puddle of puppies, tangled up in wild joy, and capturing one unfiltered moment. ~ Summer R
Our Christmas traditions vary year to year with only two constants: See’s Candy and Christmas Eve Mass. We buy two big boxes of See’s Candy to eat for breakfast on Christmas morning while we open presents. Sure, we’ll have a big traditional Southern breakfast of biscuits and gravy and eggs and bacon later on, but the only thing I want to eat at 6 a.m. during the feeding frenzy that is my children opening presents is CHOCOLATE. A woman needs her strength. Which is also why we go to Christmas Eve Mass at St. Timothy’s. We won’t all sit together – my younger children will sit with us part time, and sing with the choir part time. My oldest will be an altar server and we’ll catch glimpses of her here and there as she moves silently and solemnly through the sanctuary. There will be too many people in too small a space. But, if only for an hour, we can forget the outside world and gifts and Santa and all the things we didn’t get done, and remember the holiness of Christmas. ~ Kelly H
In 1980, when the girls were really little, it seemed like such a waste to me to have kids crazy with anticipation all month and then to have toys dumped on them all in one day and expect them to handle it well. And it really annoyed me when I had spent HOURS selecting gifts for them only to have them look at them briefly and then go on to the next one. One year I put a candy cane in each stocking as a surprise early in December and had to make up some story about how it got there since the stockings were for Santa to fill. So I told them that Santa’s Elves were watching and liked to surprise them when they were good. I had a cute green felt elf from Hallmark’s and wired him to a little wood ladder that I leaned up against the fireplace. He didn’t move around much and they never questioned him. They were so excited about that candy cane which they would not have been had it been crammed in a stocking with a bunch of other stuff on Christmas morning. So for the rest of the month I would intermittently put some little thing in their stockings – a chocolate coin, a Christmas pencil or something little. Sometimes I gave them something more valuable like a piece of jewelry. Sometimes there was an encouraging personal note included. So every morning they would rush down the stairs to check their stockings. Sometimes they were disappointed and other times they were thrilled. It made the whole month fun and kind of magical ~ Diane
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!