What are Your Favorite Christmas Traditions?

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    In our family, traditions have always been important, especially at this time of year. Don't get overwhelmed trying to make the perfect Christmas. Remember, it's really the things that you can't buy or put a price on...... the traditions that get passed on from one generation to the next that make Christmas special. This Christmas, have fun with your family and enjoy making or continuing some great traditions and memories.

    What are Your Favorite Christmas Traditions?

    It is hard to believe it is December with Christmas just 3 weeks away. Where did the year go. I t seems like only yesterday that we took down the Christmas decorations and the tree. Now it is time to put them back up again.

    Decorations are just one of the many traditions we have at Christmas....traditions that make Christmas personalized for our family....traditions that we feel compelled every year to repeat. Each year I long for the Martha Stewart Christmas, complete with holiday deserts and decorations to die for. Or how about a Christmas dinner that looks like it came right off the cover of Southern Living. I would be happy with just getting all the gifts bought and wrapped before Christmas Eve.

    We all have the picture of the "ideal Christmas". But look at what makes Christmas special to you and your family. Now that my children are grown, it is surprising to me what they consider necessary for our Christmas. It is not tons of gifts under the tree or a beautifully decorated house. (If they came home and everything was perfect and already done...they would think they had the wrong house.) It's really the things that you can't buy or put a price on...... the traditions that get passed on from one generation to the next.

    In our family, we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ. So much of our "necessary" and meaningful Christmas activities involve the church. There are several Christmas programs leading up to the Christmas Eve service with children's plays and wonderful music. I vividly remember the Christmas plays the kids were in when they were small, playing the role of a wiseman or angel. And the Christmas cantatas. To me, Christmas is not complete without hearing the glorious Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah and singing Silent Night at the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. It is always a very special atmosphere like none other.

    Following the service, we always pile into the car and drive around looking at Christmas lights while sipping on hot chocolate. We are always in search of the Griswold award of the year....... the tackier the better. In recent years, the local newspaper publishes a list of the best places to go.

    After a couple of hours of searching, we finally go home. I finish wrapping the presents while my son and daughter watch "It's a Wonderful Life." They have done this for years and still do it. In between the gift-wrapping, I prepare the special Christmas ham biscuits for Christmas breakfast. If I am lucky I may get a few hours of sleep. Actually, one of my traditions is to lie on the sofa in the living room after everyone else is in bed and watch the twinkling Christmas tree lights with the pretty presents below.

    Christmas day is full of lots of traditions. When I was a child I remember how big a deal it was to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought. But my dad was a real stickler. He had to set up the floodlights for the camera, turn on the stereo with the Christmas records, and turn on the tree lights before we were allowed to go downstairs to see the pile of gifts under the tree. We did not make our children wait to go downstairs and look in their stockings.

    Opening the gifts is always a prolonged process. Each person takes a turn opening one gift at a time while everyone else watches. It is fun to see what everyone gets. This is much different than what my family did when I was a child. We all ripped into the packages at the same time.

    Part-way through the unwrapping process, we take a small break so I can pop the ham rolls and breakfast casserole in the oven. After Christmas breakfast, the preparations for Christmas dinner begin. It is not as big of a spread as Thanksgiving, but there are the special recipes that are a must. Spiral cut glazed hams are a wonderful invention! We also have the traditional sweet potato casserole, creamed corn, green bean casserole, my mom's cranberry salad, my mother-in-law's braided Challah bread, etc., etc. Of course there are various deserts.

    These are just a few of the traditions that have made our Christmases special over the years. Hopefully our children will carry on some of these traditions for years to come while adding more of their own to the list.

    What are some of your traditions? Do you have special recipes? Feel free to share them here. We can all use an extra recipe or two at Christmas-time.

    What about your tree? When do you put it up? Is it live or artificial?

    Lights?? Colored or white? Twinkling or not?

    These traditions will carry on for generations and with them, memories that will never be forgotten. I hope you have a great holiday season as you make many happy memories with those you love.

    Merry Christmas to all!!!

    To read more articles, such as I am Afraid. Please Pray for Me, and When Nurses Cry, go to my AN blog: Body, Mind, and Soul
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 24, '17
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  3. by   TopazLover
    I have given up almost all the old traditions of Christmas. The one that is solid is having Christmas dinner at my son's home and opening some presents with the family while listening to TSO. Last year I was given the greatest present. Two days costs in my name for a family in the homeless shelter I work with. That was better than all the scarves and gloves and other presents I have gotten over the years.

    One of my favorite questions when starting a new group was to ask about tops for Christmas trees. Angel or star, most people are raised with very definite opinions. I was raised with a star.

    In some ways I am sad to have gotten away from the old traditons but I have moved so many times the ornaments are gone, the kids have their own lives and traditons that they created from some of our old ones and sharing their spouses traditions. I like the fact that we have some traditions that have changed over the years to connect with the newest members of the extended family.

    This year we have a new extension to our family so we will see what new things become part of your quilt of traditions.
  4. by   tnbutterfly
    AKY......I love those types of gifts......where someone in need can benefit. Just like the angel tree gifts for children. Love it.

    Great idea about the tree toppers. We had a star growing up. Now we have more than one tree so we have angels and stars.

    Oh how fun...... a new extension. LOL We too have a new little sprout on our family tree. It will be so much fun. She will just be 5 months old, but I know it will bring some many memorable times.

    Quilt of traditions........ I love that!!!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Dec 4, '12
  5. by   herring_RN
    I always set up the manger scene. I bought it when I was 11 and put the cardboard slots in the slits. Glued cloth on the hollow figures. Glued on hair and beards to look like the pictiures in our Bible.

    My kids had the wise men way across the credenza and hopped them (one is kneeling) to arrive on Christmas. The baby Jesus is placed in the manger on Christmas morning. When my daughter was 2 she put a toy hippo to see the baby. It is much smaller than the sheep. 42 years later we still add the hippo to our nativity.
  6. by   tnbutterfly

    Love the Christmas Hippo. LOL
  7. by   kcmylorn
    My favorite Christmas tradition- having a job!!!
  8. by   ElvishDNP
    In my family, we go through various machinations to be the first one to holler "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!" to another person on 12/24. Whoever does this gets to open a present 12/24, while everyone else has to wait another day. It has, at various times, included calling someone at oh-dark-thirty and hollering into the phone, staying up past midnight and bursting into somebody's room to holler, or setting one's alarm clock for pre-dawn hours. My long-departed great-grandmother was the best at this; no one could EVER beat her to it. Every year I think of her when my 8-year-old tries to 'get' us or his grandparents.
  9. by   BostonTerrierLoverRN
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    Driving up to the 7000 foot level and walking around to find the perfect Christmas tree. It's fun when there is snow - just not too much snow. That's been a tradition since I moved up into these mountains.

    The other is we always wake up and open presents here at home and then head out to the ranch to do it again. Our Christmas meal is always at the ranch as well. When my inlaws go to heaven, that will be the hardest tradition to have to give up.

    I find trying to get my kids presents to be incredibly difficult -especially the adults. My daughter helped out this year sending me a link to something she wants as a cook-in-training. I love the idea of adopting a family and we do that as well. Plus we do the Christmas Child box.

    The large extended family has all their names put in a bowl, usually at the cousin's picnic in July, and we draw names and limit it to $25. There have been some great gag gifts given by other folks - I'm not good at that either.

    We have a manger scene and then another white porcelin set of the Three Wisemen, which was part of a small fire when my daughter was in elementary school. She lit a candle and didn't tell us - it was on the table with the 3WiseGuys and scorched one and burnt part of the table before it fortunately went out. So that scorched WiseGuy tells us each year that we should be thankful!~!

    I'm not big on decorating . . . . it takes us forever to get the tree decorated, especially the lights, which are a nightmare.

    That's tradition.
  11. by   tnbutterfly
    I agree about the tree lights being a nightmare. It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't so picky. But I am my father's daughter and he was always picky about the lights.

    Does everyone have their shopping done???????? Oh my. This little elf better get busy!!!!!!
  12. by   BostonTerrierLoverRN
    I only wish, the poor UPS and Fed-Ex guys are getting tired of coming up my steep driveway.

    Did y'all realize if they merged,...

    it would be "Fed-Up"
  13. by   tnbutterfly

    Good one, Boston.

    I think I will be seeing more of the Fed-Ups guys. I will have to do my last-minute shopping on-line as I have been so lucky to have been assaulted by strep throat and the flu a week before Christmas. What joy.
  14. by   TopazLover
    Get the pot for chicken soup out. Make it and eat the entire pot full and you will be on the mend. Oh, and some antibiotics can't hurt either.