Holidays are all about tradition. Every family has them, whether they be generational or contemporary, quirky or conventional. I love to hear about other people’s long-standing traditions, especially when they’re customized to family members and border on the slightly-weird side.
Our resident RCM writing team is sharing their family traditions with you in today’s post – and we’d love to hear about yours! Add them to the comments and we’ll repost some of our favorites to Twitter & Facebook.
Merry Christmas & Happiest of Holidays to all of our dear readers![sws_blockquote_endquote align=”center” cite=”” quotestyle=”style03″]We want to hear about YOUR family’s holiday traditions: the good, the bad, and the downright weird. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]
Our traditions start when we decorate the tree. My tree has everything from ornaments my great-grandmother crafted by hand to glittering Radkos and macaroni garland. It’s fun to think about where they came from and reminisce about those that may not be with us anymore. We always spend Christmas Day in new Christmas pajamas. First we open stockings and then presents followed by a breakfast casserole and lots of food–often mimosas are part of the fun but I prefer mine without the OJ.
We visit Valley Christmas Tree Plantation and pick out the perfect tree then have some hot cocoa. It kicks off the holidays for us.
We open all the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve that are from family and friends. When we go to bed that night there’s nothing under the tree. Then in the morning after Santa has visited we have his presents to open. We started doing this when there were little kids in the family again and it sort of stuck. We also usually travel Christmas night back to my parent’s housein the midwest. This gives the kids a little more time to play with their toys before we have to pick the ones that go with us and leave the rest at home.
We go to the early Christmas Eve candlelight service at church, where everyone politely pretends not to notice me bawling through “Mary Did You Know?”
Every year growing up my Dad was very practical and put tennis balls and socks in our stockings so I continued the tradition with our kids. They always get tennis balls and socks in their stockings…along with a few other things that are a bit more fun.
My mother collects Nativity/Creche sets from all over the world in a million different styles. She has like a hundred of these things set up at her house. She puts them all out at the beginning of December, but without the baby Jesus. Then on Christmas morning the very first present we open up is a box full of all the babies and everyone runs around the house putting baby Jesus into his matching manger. It’s always followed up by a nice thought about how Jesus is the real present at the Christmas season. I loved matching the right Jesus to the right manger as a kid!
My favorite tradition is waking up Christmas morning, attending Mass and then coming home to eat a big breakfast with our extended family. Then we open presents and watch the Christmas parade on TV!
Growing up, we always travelled to Tennessee with a car packed to the rooftop with kids, presents, luggage and dogs. Once we arrived, sometimes miraculously, it was pandemonium until formal Christmas dinner that was sooooo good, but my grandmother always picked apart to the insistence of all that it was Heaven in our mouths. (My grandmother made an apple cake that was amazing, and never had a recipe. I’d love to taste it again!) After gift opening, with the time between dinner and paper melee always drawn out longer & longer by what us kids knew as sadistic adults, a lot if times I remember my grandfather and Uncle Bobby playing guitar and singing. It’d put a lot of us right out, and I can remember feeling warm and comfortable with my full tummy and full heart. What I’d give to go back just once and see and feel it all again…
THE STRANGE & THE SILLY
We have stocking hooks that sit on the mantel that spell NOEL, and the first time someone rearranges it to say LEON we all howl like it’s the first time we’ve seen it.
My mom and oldest cousin are Tennessee & Alabama fans, respectively. When Alabama beat Tennessee, Ethan gave my mom an Alabama hoodie. She waxed her car with it, repackaged it and returned it the next year. It went back and forth for years! My grandfather is really scared of snakes, and for several years I remember snake presents… you know…the can of “peanuts” that erupts a snake when opened, and one year a huge toy snake for kids. He laughed and laughed, but edged away. My family is crazy, and I love them!
My great-aunt always received a giant pair of underwear from a “Secret Admirer” every Christmas. Like, GIANT. She’s around 5-foot and 100 pounds soaking wet.
We have a Christmas Eve buffet every year where we all bring random things that we love. Requirements include: a shrimp log shaped like a giant shrimp, cookies in the shape of a French poodle, and black olives. Entirely non-traditional, but the only way it feels like Christmas to us.
After Christmas Eve Mass, it’s tradition that my immediate family has dinner together somewhere that serves ethnic food. Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Indian – the spicier the better! It’s a much-needed break from all the heavy traditional Christmas fare. Of course, my Mom always makes lasagna, black-eyed peas, and hog jowl for New Year’s Day dinner.
We always have New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp for dinner on Christmas Eve. We did it about four years ago, and my son announced it was a tradition. So now it is. My wife makes a Christmas morning breakfast casserole that you’d eat instead of anything else in the world. I get a bottle of Blair’s Jalapeno Death Sauce and eat about a third of it with that casserole, almost like a chutney. I also mentioned the first Christmas after my mother died that Mom had always given me a Terry’s chocolate orange in my stocking and how much I liked them, and now my wife gives me a chocolate orange every year. It’s such a silly little thing but it means something to me.
Musts are pimento cheese, sugar plums, cheese ball, a meat sandwich of some sort (no beef), various cookies, spinach dip and Frito’s…. We’ve never been formal on Christmas.
We always have our “nice” Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve night- Turkey, dressing, and all the fixings. We all dress up and carry the formal mood on with a reading of the Christmas story from the Bible, or some kind of presentation about Jesus’ birth. Then on Christmas day it’s all about fun! After we’ve opened all of the presents we have a junk food fest. Nothing is off limits! Nacho cheese, pickles, boxes of chocolates, jalapeno poppers, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, Doritos…anything and everything that’s bad for you. Of course we all start diets in January too to make up for it.
One tradition that’s just for me: I *always* get a Radko ornament from my mom. I have 25 years worth and I sometimes get one for my birthday since its December 20th, so I have quite the collection. However, this year we didn’t have the fun of unwrapping each one and ooooing and aaahing because of the kittens.
Whenever we travel throughout the year, we try to find a tree ornament to commemorate the trip. We also get an ornament for any new experiences that year: sports played, hobbies acquired, etc. When the tree goes up it becomes something of a storyboard from the past. My Mom does the same thing, and still has a pinecone Bluebird of Happiness ornament I made in kindergarten in her tree every year.
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy teens and two ridiculous dogs, spouse of one incredible guy, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Executive Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and conduct freelance marketing and SMM work.