Christmas Traditions – Then and Now

My friend, Leslie, has invited (and encouraged) us to share ten Christmas traditions.  Sounds simple but ten is actually a lot.  But, on Instagram, she encouraged us to give it “the old college try” and so I will:)  Traditions around here have changed and some have evolved or others have been modified.  That used to bother me – even upset me, truth be told – but I am learning more and more to embrace each year.  Each season of life.  Both my season of life and those of my children! They are all adults now and there are no little ones at our house during the holidays.  But I do love to reminisce:)

There are two traditions (things that we did every year and made the Christmas season “complete”) that we did with the kiddos when they were little that make some of my best memories.

1 – Advent Christmas basket.  Instead of an advent calendar, we read a Christmas book each evening of December.  This was before Kindles or other ebooks and required my checking 24 books out of the library.  I usually had to do this early in November or the books would be all picked over.  Once chosen and secured on my library card, I would wrap the books and number them – one a day for the month.  The kids loved this!  I loved this!!  We looked forward to our Christmas book each evening…and we loved watching the basket become more and more empty!!

2 – Individual date nights with each kiddo.  Again, this was years ago.  Before “date night” with your kids was a thing.  Or, at least, before anyone called it a date night.  And something that did usually happen much any other time during the year – if for no other reason than eating out was much more of a treat.  Even a luxury.  However, I was given a Christmas bonus each year (which was such a joy!) and I divided it three ways and then took each one of my children out for an evening of dinner – just the two of us and they chose the restaurant- and shopping.  Again, they loved it.  But, really – who loved it more??:)

A few other things that we always did (and that may or may not continue today)……

3 – Coordinating wrapping paper.  Paper has to match.  Having a theme is even better but, at the very least, it has to all be the same color and coordinate.  With matching bows.  And (dare I risk saying this) but bags are a no.  This one has been challenged as the kids have become adults (and do their own wrapping) but I think the rules have pretty well been established.  Just sayin:)

4 – No children downstairs until all adults were awake and downstairs.  Three little munchkins would perch on the top step until mom, dad, and all grandparents were up and ready.  And camcorders were rolling!  You remember camcorders, right??  Ours was a big as a bread box!!

5 – Presents are opened one at a time.  Someone (this used to be Dad but our son has assumed the role in recent years) dons a Santa hat and hands out all the gifts from under the tree and we take turns opening them.   Honestly, I thought this was how everyone opened gifts.  If I’m wrong, don’t tell me.  How stressful that would be!!

6 – The Christmas boxes.  We have some velvet boxes that are usually for display but “just always seem” to have “a little something extra” that is found, discovered, or opened after everything else is done and the morning is over.  It didn’t start as a tradition but after one or two years, those boxes become very much anticipated – and appreciated.  Especially by older children.

And there are a few traditions that have developed in more recent years.  They might not be as “old” as some of the other traditions, but we look forward to them just the same and they help make Christmas at our house…well, Christmas:)

7 – Going out to eat in the afternoon.  We enjoy getting out of the house.  We enjoy the atmosphere out and about.  For instance, last year we went to Georgetown.  The restaurant we selected was ringside to a created ice rink.  Families – children and lots of puppies too! – were everywhere and having such a great time.  The holiday spirit was contagious.  We are certainly hoping for good weather again this year!

8 – Tyler’s cinnamon rolls.  Our buddy, Tyler, loved to cook and, especially, loved to bake.  He began making cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning a few years before he died.  We have been making the same cinnamon rolls – using his recipe out of his Emeril Lagasse kids cookbook – every Christmas since!!  I’m pretty sure if we did not, we would not even bother to finish the day.  After 13 years, we still struggle with grief during the holidays.  But we continue to give ourselves grace…and we embrace the joy that is still ours….and we do love our cinnamon rolls and the memories they give us of our sweet son and brother!!

And – college try and all – eight is all I have.  I look forward to reading others.  You can check them out here.  And let me know one of your favorite traditions….I would love to hear!!

9 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions – Then and Now

  1. Ohhhh, I need to incorporate the “no children downstairs until the adults are up”!!! Love reading your traditions then and now. Precious and sweet, Jennifer. Praying you have the best weekend.

  2. Maybe only 8 traditions in number but they are so sweet and rich and full of love, that there is much more than 8 beautiful memories in this post. Thank you so much for sharing. I know this time of year is hard for you. I appreciate your bittersweet trip down memory lane.

    Love, love, love the wrapping paper rules. I don’t have rules in place but need to get on that. Have tended to buy pretty paper for adult packages and Santas and snowmen for children. Need to institute some guidelines beyond that.

    Bread box-sized camcorder, yup!! And we had to plug it in because the battery was never charged. And then we couldn’t really record well because we had to stand in one place near the plug. Ugh.

    The advent basket is genius. We read a different Christmas book every night for a bit. And I have so many Christmas books but no babies here at night to share them with. I think I will record myself reading one a night for a week to share with the grands. Thank you for that!

    Absolutely…no kids allowed to do anything until the parents are up, faces washed, teeth and hair brushed…camera ready.

    Wish we could all enjoy one of Tyler’s cinnamon rolls together over coffee!!

    1. How sweet it would be to share a cinnamon roll – anytime during this holiday season! (We might have to zoom that!! As if I know one thing about zooming!) And, yes, I totally remember having to stand near the outlet in order to film! Brilliant minds…..

  3. Loved this dear Jennifer…to see a snapshot into your family’s traditions…
    So many for us have changed too over the years with age and with homegoings. I am going to sit down tomorrow and see if j can come up with ten for the memories maybe write them in a book to look back on some years from now…xo

  4. We used to take turns to open presents too! I love that idea of a ‘date night’ with your children, hmm … now I’m wondering if I could manage to arrange this with mine, now they are married with families of their own I rarely get to spend one on one time with them. Traditions are lovely aren’t they? Even if they do change slightly over the years!

  5. I love reading different Christmas traditions. #4 is great. It reminds me of the days when our boys had to stay in bed till 7am and couldn’t open anything. However they could look at their stockings and come get us up at that point.

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