13 Random Christmas Traditions
from My Family, Then and Now
from My Family, Then and Now
Some more meaningful than others!
- I can recite the Christmas story from Luke 2 word-for-word just off the top of my head. I memorized it for a Christmas program as a child and I've never forgotten it.
- I can also recite A Visit from Saint Nicholas (aka "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"). Not that I memorized it for a Christmas program... I guess just reading it aloud so many times over the years made it stick in my head.
- My family had a tradition for several years to read the Cajun Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve right after Daddy read the real Christmas Story from the Bible, and right before we opened gifts. In this version Santa drove a skiff pulled by alligators through the bayous of Louisiana. My brother, Allen, was usually the designated reader.
- Mother made red felt stockings for us in 1974. She cut the letters of our names out of white felt and stitched them on. We used them every year until we grew up and left home. She still gets them out any year that any of us are home for Christmas. The original 5 stockings are a little faded and worn by now... but the collection has grown right along with the family! New stockings have been lovingly sewn for all the in-laws and grand-babies.
- My parents "stuffed" our stockings with an apple and an orange in the foot of the stocking, and a giant (foot long?) peppermint stick in the leg of the stocking. There were usually a few other small gifts tucked around the peppermint stick, but we could always count on those 3 things filling the bulk of the stocking. The candy was more of a treat than the fruit was!
- My great-grandmother mailed small gifts to all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. (She had 6 children and 22 grandchildren, so you can imagine how many great-grands there were.) She usually sewed something for the girls and women--maybe an apron or a potholder. The boys and men would get things like a pair of socks or jersey cotton work gloves or a bandana. We were always allowed to open our gift from Mother Shumaker on Christmas Eve just before bedtime. Mother Shumaker died in 1982 when I was 16. Her daughter, my grandmother, carried on the tradition until she died in 1998.
- My husband and I started our own open-on-Christmas-Eve tradition with our children when they were babies. They get a new pair of pajamas and a Bible-related book or CD to open before bedtime on Christmas Eve. By now they can pretty much guess what's in any package under the tree that says "Christmas Eve".
- The children love to do their Christmas shopping at the Dollar Tree every year. They loved picking out gifts for each of their cousins who live in the area, and for each other.
- My younger daughter asked me the other day to tell her one thing I had got for her sister for Christmas. "I won't tell! I promise!" So I whispered in her ear, "A book!" She was thrilled! She thought she knew some great secret! She ran and told her sister, "I know something you're getting for Christmas. Mommy told me. But I can't tell you!" So my older daughter came to see if I would tell her a similar secret. I whispered the same thing to her. She was not impressed. She told her sister, "That's not a secret! We always get books!"
- Mother usually served "egg nog" for breakfast on Christmas Day. It was quick and easy to make, and we were much too excited to take the time to sit down to eat. Mother's egg nog is not the thick, overly sweet stuff you can buy at the grocery store... not was it spiked with whatever it is that people add to eggnogs for parties. She simply blended milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg... kinda like drinking home-made ice-cream without freezing it. We loved it! And I make egg nog for my kids on Christmas morning, to serve along with a breakfast casserole or cinnamon rolls.
- Our gift-opening tradition is to open the presents one at a time, with everyone watching whoever is opening something, rather than all tearing in at the same time. It seems more in the spirit of giving that way, and it makes the gift-opening time last longer.
- My husband and I started a new Christmas Eve tradition last year. We loaded the family up when it got dark (which is about 4:00pm this time of year in this part of the country!) and took a long drive to look at Christmas lights and enjoy each other's company. When we came home and got the kids tucked into bed, my husband and I had fun flipping through XM channels listening to a wide range of Christmas music and just talking and looking at the Christmas tree. It was such a relaxing, enjoyable evening that I told my husband I'd like to do that again this year. He thought it was a great idea and got a new Christmas music CD to surprise the kids with on our drive that night.
- My favorite "tradition" that I have carried on from my parents is that no tradition is set in stone. Our traditions evolve from year to year... and from one season of life to another. We continue the traditions we enjoy most, and are always open to adding new ones.