Holiday Traditions

Each family has a set of holiday traditions. What is a tradition?

a belief, principle or way of acting that people in a particular society or group have continued to follow for a long time, or all of these beliefs, etc. in a particular society or group.

Depending on the country where you were born, family heritage, and other factors, we all have different Christmas traditions.

Opening presents vary from family to family. Some open family gifts on Christmas Eve, creating room for the gifts arriving from Santa Claus to be opened on Christmas Day. One family I know open gifts on Christmas Eve with all the family, then feast and games on Christmas Day. My family has always opened gifts on Christmas Day, until everyone left home. The day of opening gifts at our home was scheduled when family members were able to come over to celebrate Christmas.

This year, my husband and I have made another change, we will open gifts on Christmas Day. We are not having a Christmas celebration with other family members at our home. So, we will go back to the original tradition we were both raised with, opening gifts on Christmas Day. Then we will go for a short visit and food at my daughter’s house, provided my husband and I are not sick.

The timing of putting up the Christmas tree. Most of the family put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. I was raised with a Christmas tree being harvested and decorated the day after Thanksgiving. But when I started my own family I changed the date. My birthday is in the first part of December. I was tired of Christmas crowding my birthday. Hence, I decorate the Christmas tree after my birthday. Those of us who had the opportunity of being born in the month of December, have a lifetime of sharing our birthday with Christmas decorations and traditions combined and often over powering our own celebration.

Gingerbread houses, beautiful creations of decorated cookie structures. I do not know the origins of decorating gingerbread houses, but their beauty has always drawn my attention and fascination. As a child, we never decorated gingerbread houses, but on occasion would make gingerbread cookies. When my children were little, we did not decorate gingerbread houses. Not until my youngest daughter was a freshman in college, I purchased a kit, and we decorated gingerbread houses. From that first start, my other children started buying kits to decorate gingerbread houses. Now, every year each of my children’s family as well as myself decorate gingerbread houses for Christmas. A new tradition in our family we all enjoy.

Photo by Goran Grudiu0107 on

Hanging the stockings with care. Growing up, we hung our stockings on a bookcase, as we never did have a fireplace. My children when they were small, their stockings were hung on the dining table on Christmas Eve, as I did not have a place to hang stockings. We moved several times, and the place in the different homes changed, sometimes stair banisters, bookcases and a few years from an old piano. What went into the stocking never changed. I would place in each stocking : an apple, an orange, peanuts, then some chocolate Santas and always a peppermint candy cane, a new toothbrush, socks and lastly a penny for good luck in the coming year. I have stopped putting peanuts in the stockings as it is too messy. When family comes to visit for Christmas I add travel size lotion, hand sanitizer, or a loofah into the stocking instead of socks or a toothbrush.

I always make the cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies and church window candy rolls. Some years I bake more. But those three items are always made at Christmas. The years I have the time and energy to bake more, I give the extra cookies and baked goods away to friends and family. With the baking and cooking I do at Christmas, one our New Year’s resolutions is to always lose weight. The first few months of the New Year we are on a diet to lose the weight gained at Christmas.

The way we celebrate our Christmas traditions change with the stages of life we are in. When my children were young we did many more family traditions of playing games, watching certain movies and cooking together. Today, there are only two of us at home. I no long spend three to four days baking and cooking with my children. I cook the standard three recipes that in my heart have to be made for our celebration. Under the Christmas tree looks lean as there are not many gifts compared to when I had four children at home. To fill the emptiness, I decorate under the Christmas tree, with a Christmas town or train or reindeer. The traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings is a little too much food for two people. I have sent invitation to have others join us for Christmas dinner, only they have their families or friends they spend the day celebrating with. Instead of the traditional turkey dinner, I fix something special such as rib eye steaks, or cornish hens, a special dinner for two.

Traditions change as families merge. When my children married, their spouses had family traditions as well. Each family had to merge the family traditions they were raised with and form their own traditions carrying forward some traditions from each.

Regardless if you have passed down through generations traditions or create new ways of celebrating the holidays together, it is important to celebrate with those you love and create memories. Make each day you have be special.



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