ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Family Traditions: It's a Wonderful Life !

Updated on September 16, 2013

Tradition #1 Baking Holiday Cookies

What do George Bailey, Russian Tea Cakes, and Chinese food have in common? It is all part of our family’s Christmas traditions.

Russian Tea Cakes

My mother handed the recipe down for Russian Tea Cakes. It is one of the holiday cookie recipes that we cherish each year. When I was a young mother in my early twenties I began the tradition in my own family. The cookie party begins with making the dough, chilling it for a few hours or overnight, then rolling and baking. The results are a wonderfully flavored ball of goodness that is lightly rolled in powdered sugar-just like a snowball. Both of my grown daughters carry on this tradition with their own families now.

One year my oldest daughter, then 8, decided to make them without any guidance of assistance. I had confidence that she would be able to handle it. She read well and had helped make them in previous years. Encouraging her self reliance I set the oven temperature, assisted her in placing the cookie sheets in the oven and pulled them out when the timer went off.

After the long awaited cool down and roll in the sugar she and her sister, along with me, grabbed a cookie and gave a big bite. Imagine our surprise when what our tongues met was not at all the flavor we expected. Greeting our taste buds was the complete opposite of the sweet cookie we had become accustomed to and instead there was an unmistakable salty flavor.

On investigation I discovered she had misunderstood the tsp and tablespoon symbols adding one tablespoon of salt, not the quarter teaspoon it was calling for. Telling this story has become another part of the history of our Russian Tea Cake baking tradition.

Family Traditions

Family Christmas traditions are fun and memorable
Family Christmas traditions are fun and memorable | Source
Dining together as a family is important.
Dining together as a family is important. | Source

Tradition #2 Dining Together on Special Occasions

Chinese Food

I was raised Catholic, a religion that I continued to follow when I was raising my children. As a young girl my favorite time of mass for the Christmas holiday was midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I loved going into the candle lit church in the middle of the night to pray and sing Christmas songs. The image of Baby Jesus being born in the stable seemed to come to life more when the stars were out.

As my daughters grew older, and were able to remain awake and alert through mass, I returned to attending the midnight service. My second husband shared the faith of Catholicism and one year following mass he drove around in search for a late night restaurant. There were none to be found, of course, nor was there even a party store open to pick up a few groceries.

Then, as we drove down a busy main road the lights of a local Chinese restaurant flashed its neon sign: ‘OPEN’. It was a delicious meal full of merriment and a wonderful way to end the year, which was receiving our fortune cookies. Thus, a family tradition was started, which again, lives on with each of my daughters’ families on Christmas Eve.

Tradition #3 Sharing a good movie together

Favorite Christmas Movies

My sister and I shared a room growing up. One year my parents hosted a Christmas party and we were instructed not to disturb the adults, but we could bring the small, black and white television into our room and stay up as long as we liked. One of the movies we watched, which we still reminisce about, is White Christmas with Bing Crosby.

Through the years the old classics like Miracle on 48th Street starring a very young Natalie Wood; and Charles Dickens’: A Christmas Carol would be televised, along with the animated Charlie Brown Christmas and Seuss’s, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. These were all family favorites that my siblings and I enjoyed and have been passed on through the decades for my own children and grandkids to relish.

Of course, with new material coming in each year, my daughters now have their own favorites and the tradition in their homes is the nostalgic recounts of one boy’s desire to get a bb gun from Santa in the humorous Christmas Story movie.

For me Christmas would not be the same without watching two movies: The hilarious adventures of Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and the touching life story of George Bailey in: It’s A Wonderful Life. The attempts of these two men to be successful hold universal truths for all of us.

Fun times with grandkids: Photo moment

Photo shot: 2011
Photo shot: 2011 | Source

Tradition #4 Christmas Photo and Cards

Although my husband and I did not take an annual photo to send to the relatives in the Christmas card, like so many families do, we did send out cards each year. As time goes on the Christmas card exchange has sadly dwindled to just a handful. Most people skip spending the money on cards and postage, and opt instead to Skype, email or text. It is the nature of new technology to desire instantaneous pictures.

I am one of the last ones standing in the card department. I love to give and receive cards. Now that my children are grown I take an annual Christmas photo with my grandchildren. I always keep one for myself and it's fun to see how they've grown and the smiles, with or without braces, that shine from that photo as they eagerly await Christmas morning.

Holiday Tradition Poll

Do you have a Holiday tradition that you or your family follows? Please share in the comment section below, if Yes.

See results

Christmas Ornaments

Olivia with her latest ornament
Olivia with her latest ornament | Source

Other Favorite Traditions

Christmas Lights: Watching Clark Griswold struggle with those lights and seeing the obnoxious outcome of his effort inspired my husband and me to drive around with the kids during the holiday season in search for the best Griswold look alike home in the neighborhood. Would we find it? Yes, we would-every year, not necessarily the same one.

Christmas Ornaments: Another family tradition when my children were born was to give an annual Christmas ornament. I now share this same tradition with my grandchildren choosing something that is their current interest, such as a Disney Princess, or something classic, such as an angel or a version of Saint Nicholas. I envision the ornaments as part of their ‘hope chest’ for when they will celebrate this holiday on their own.

Pajamas and Storybooks: Two traditional gifts that started with my own children and are now carried on with my grandchildren are new pajamas and a brand new book. I'm not sure how the new pajamas tradition started, actually. Perhaps it seemed like a good time to buy a warm pair of pi's for the winter nights. Whatever the thought behind it the annual gift stuck and my own daughters carry this on with their children. As for the storybooks-there's always a 'right time' to give a book to someone you love.

My daughters now share these traditions, along with creating new ones, with their own families. One of the new ones that was inadvertently created was the 'passing on of the Christmas sweater'. This started when one hubby received a homemade Christmas sweater that was one that could be described best as, 'obnoxious'. Rather than sending it to the Salvation Army to recycle, he wrapped it as a present for his brother-in-law and made it a gift that would last and last. Back and forth the sweater went, much like the hard rock traditional fruit cake-something you had, didn't want and were eager to get rid of.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Dianna-thanks for sharing your tradition. Whenever we drive around we try to spot the best Grizwold Christmas house, lol Thanks for your comments.

      Hi Vellur-thank you for reading and commenting on this hub. I appreciate the votes and share! (BTW that beautiful tree is my youngest daughter's. Both of my girls do a fantastic job decorating their huge trees!)

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      You have a wonderful Christmas Tree and wonderful heartwarming family traditions. Enjoyed reading your hub and thank you for sharing. Voted up.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I love reading Christmas articles for the reasons you mention: traditions are what make it so meaningful. We love to make Christmas cookies and then later we drive around the town looking at lights while munching on a few. Oh yes, we also take along a mug of hot cocoa. Thanks for encouraging the Spirit of Christmas.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello jclaffee-thanks for sharing your thoughts about this movie and traditions. Nice to meet another writer from NC. :)

    • jclaffee profile image

      Jesse Claffee 

      8 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      It's a Wonderful Life was also aChristmas family tradition when my Grandpa was still alive- some of my favorite family memories. Great hub, thank you!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Stessily-you have been so busy reading many of my hubs-I appreciate this and your comments. Thank you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Denise, It's heart-warming to read of your Christmas traditions and to learn the context in which they were created. And it is wonderful that more traditions are added by your daughters so that everyone has their part in creating these traditions which instill the magic of anticipation and appreciation for Christmas.

      Kind regards, Stessily

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Ahh, thanks Trish_M Nice to meet you. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      10 years ago from The English Midlands

      Thanks for that hub ~ it was lovely :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you IAM for your comments and vote up. I'm glad you enjoyed.

    • iamalegend profile image


      10 years ago from EARTH

      Absolutely stunning! Traditions are very special especially when they are very old.I like this exciting memories of wonderful life. Rated up and enjoyed.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Sir Epigramman-thank you for your kind words. You are a charmer! :)

    • epigramman profile image


      10 years ago

      ..yes indeed it is a wonderful life when I can come over here to your hallowed hubspace and read these wonderful thoughts of yours - and say to myself - yes Hubpages is special because of people like you!!!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Micky, S.H. and Ladyjane for stopping by for a read and comment. I appreciate it. HAve a joyful holiday and keep it safe!

    • ladyjane1 profile image


      10 years ago from Texas

      Great hub and great memories...I will be visiting your Russian Tea cakes hub because my husband is Russian and he would love for me to make these. Cheers and thanks.

    • Str8up Hookups profile image

      Str8up Hookups 

      10 years ago

      Good stuff Denise!

      I was brought up with rich family traditions,many have dwindled with the times.Family smaller,relocation of loved ones,kids away at school,etc.

      So my son and keep the old traditions like making and decorating gingerbread houses,stringing popcorn but my son added any toy that he received last year for Xmas that hasn't been opened is donated to an organization for other kids to benefit.

      He thought of this on his own and I am really proud of that.

      Hub up!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      10 years ago

      Visiting your hubs is now a Christmas tradition!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Rema, thank you for stopping in to read this hub and comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Merry Christmas to you and may you have joy and peace this holiday season. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Deborah-yes, George Bailey sure is one of the good guys, isn't he? He was played by the perfect gentleman, too. LOL I loved your comment about your piggy bank reminded you of Clarence. That's a nice reminder. Thanks for the blessings and back to you.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 

      10 years ago from Chennai, India

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 

      10 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Denise,

      What a beautiful hub! Nice memories to cherish throughout

      one's life. Very happy for you! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

      Warm Regards,


    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Reno 

      10 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thanks for sharing these wonderful traditions. I love George Baily. I have a ceramic piggy bank who reminds me of Clarence, though no one else sees the resemblance. Have a blessed holiday season.


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks, CM-don't know if that will happen, but whatever I'll be doing, I'll be with family, so...that's always a good time. :)

      Bobbie-thanks for your comment. Yes, the memories: It's a Wonderful Life, isn't it. Merry Christmas.

    • BobbiRant profile image


      10 years ago from New York

      I love when people share their favorite holiday memories and traditions. Those, not the presents, are what children carry into adulthood with them. Wonderful hub about a wonderful life.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      10 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I hope you get to do that... and I hope you have great time!!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      My nephew will be in Minnesota visiting his cousins this year...I'll be travelling NORTH, LOL and spending Christmas with my daughters in Michigan. Maybe we'll get to enjoy that midnight mass and Chinese dinner I wrote about. :)

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      10 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thanks... same to you.. I think we're doing the Polish high mass this year.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey CM, good to see you again. Yes, (big smile here) I have fond memories of midnight mass. Happy Holidays to you.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      10 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      ahhh... Midnight Mass. Unless one has attended a midnight mass, they cant really understand the appeal of it.

      Great post!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      PaperNotes-thanks for stopping in to read this hub. I am also excited about Christmas this year. Will be sharing it with my kids this year.

      acaetnna-thanks for your comments. I've been around awhile longer than you, so I have alot of memories to share, LOL

      Warm whispers, thanks for reading this hub. I agree with you, the nonmaterial things are what counts most of all. Thanks for your comment.

      Monica-so good to hear from you. I know the holidays can be hectic and we can forget to enjoy the moment. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Happy Holidays to all of you. Thanks for your comments.

    • MonicaRobinson profile image


      10 years ago

      Great hub, Denise! I remember making tea cakes with my mom. I also have many Christmas ornaments that hang up my tree with my name and the year it was given to me as a child. Now, though, Christmas seems way too stressful. Reading about your traditions reminds me to breathe and relax.

    • warm_whispers profile image


      10 years ago

      The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

    • acaetnna profile image


      10 years ago from Guildford

      This was a brilliant read Denise - what wonderful memories.

    • PaperNotes profile image


      10 years ago

      Oh Christmas! A few more days to go and I feel quite excited already. My daughter and I are going to make some sweet desserts.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Good morning Gail, thanks for stopping to read and comment on this hub. Oh, yes, my daughters and I were together over Thanksgiving and reminiscing about that. Hope your holiday was a good one.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      10 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub. Heartwarming and so easy to relate to. And the story about your young daughter adding all the extra salt was sweet. Thanks for sharing this beautiful hub.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Eiddwen, for your 'cheers' :) and feedback.

      Likewise, to you. Thanks for stopping in.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      10 years ago from Wales

      Hio Denise,

      A great hub, an useful and up here. Also it will be bookmarked for easy reference.

      I now look forward to reading more of your work.

      Take care Denise.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Rose, thanks. I actually got the idea when my first born was given a Christmas ornament by a dear friend of mine when she was born. She is a December baby. I continued this annual collection as my kids were growing up and they actually still have some of the original pieces. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Denise I love the tradition of giving ornaments for the future Christmases.

      Nice article, enjoyed it.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi B.-I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. Thank you for your comments. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks everyone, I'm so glad you enjoyed sharing the memories with me.

      Hello Zzron, thanks for stopping by. :)

      Marie-I am thrilled that you are going to start your own tradition. It's great fun!

      Carrie-thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.

      Rich-I'm glad my hub triggered your own Christmas memories. Thank you for the holiday blessings. :)

      De Greek, LOL I missed the 'Christmas Recipe' hubmob challenge, so the recipe will be in the future. They are awesome. YUM!

      AnnieRose-thanks. Maybe it is a Midwestern thing???

      Erin-I appreciate your beautiful words. Thank you.

      Jill-I'm glad to see you stopped in. Thank you for your kind words.

      I had alot of fun bringing the memories of our family traditions to life through this hub. I appreciate all of your comments. Thanks, and Merry Christmas to all of you...right around the corner...

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      10 years ago

      Traditions are wonderful, thanks for sharing yours with us, what an upbeat and warm Hub!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      10 years ago from Philippines

      What a beautiful hub about traditions! Very heartwarming!

      Voted up and beautiful!

    • Erin LeFey profile image

      Erin LeFey 

      10 years ago from Maryland

      Voted up and beautiful - what a wonderful way to share your creativity in making christmas traditions and wonderful memories with us. Thank you for that. And now you've inspired us to pen our own traditions, acknowledging and giving rightful honor to those we are passing down within our own families. Thank you for reminding us that we make traditions, and in their repetition, the love lives on. Happy Holidays!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is a very heart-warming walk down memory lane. Our family shared some of your family traditions and we had friends that made the wonderful Russian Tea Cakes. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      10 years ago from UK

      Not fair! What's the recipe for Russian Tea Cakes??? :-)

    • richtwf profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks Denise for sharing these personal and beautiful memories with us.

      It's almost that time of year again when people are about to enter into the festive spirit. Times flies and it's great to hear that you're passing down family traditions to the next generation.

      Christmas is a very special time for family. I can remember my childhood times at Christmas - being with my English family, Christmas Day dinner, watching the movies, listening to Christmas carols ... great memories indeed!

      Thanks again for sharing your memories. God bless you and your family and peace to all of you over the coming Christmas and the coming new year.

    • carrie450 profile image


      10 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      A beautiful hub full of precious memories of Christmases past. Very well written Denise.

    • VioletSun profile image


      10 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      This was heartwarming, how nice to create these traditions, they are wonderful bondings of love between loved ones. I should start a tradition here at home, things have changed as family is scattered, but will be thinking of one, thanks for inspiring me!

      Rated up and beautiful.

    • zzron profile image


      10 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Awesome hub, thanks for the walk down memory lane.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)