Our Family Christmas Traditions
holiday decorations, holiday ornaments, and Christmas activities
Just about every family that celebrates Christmas has its own unique family Christmas traditions. These might include certain holiday decorations, special Christmas activities, and cherished holiday ornaments. There's really no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas. Our Christmas traditions involve elements of Christianity, along with the usual commercial Christmas that's celebrated across the United States. We have loads of fun with our Christmas traditions, but we also try to remember the "reason for the season," and we want to make sure the kids understand the importance of Christmas from a Christian perspective.
Family Christmas traditions: holiday decorations
Our family Christmas traditions begin around Thanksgiving. Hubby and I usually put up our tree at the end of November. The adult kids and the grandkids usually help. I serve hot cocoa and goodies, and we play Christmas music to accompany our efforts. We adorn the Christmas tree with all sorts of holiday ornaments. Some are new, some are handmade, and some are expensive. Some of my holiday ornaments are very old and have been in my family for decades. My favorite holiday ornaments are the ones that were passed down to me from my parents.
Once the tree is practically groaning with its multitude of holiday ornaments, we start on the other holiday decorations. For the most part, my daughters and I decorate the inside of the house, while my husband is responsible for the outdoor holiday decorations. He strings icicle lights on the house, hangs up a big lighted star, and places wreaths on the front door and the windows. Our outdoor holiday decorations also include reindeer, snowmen, and poinsettas.
I love shopping for xmas gifts, especially for the grandkids. Let's face it - it's fun to shop for toys! In late November or early December, my daughters and I travel about forty miles to the nearest Toys R Us. I give the girls $100 for each child, just for toys. I buy them a few articles of clothing, also, along with a couple of other xmas gifts. The C-notes are just for toys at Toys R Us. The girls know what the kids want, so they pick out the toys for their kids.
After our shopping at the toy store is done, we head to our favorite seafood restaurant/oyster bar for oystrers, shrimp, grouper, and appetizers. We always have a blast! We rarely get to be together without husbands and children, so it's a special mother-daughters time.
Once the meal is over, we head back to my house, and the girls wrap the xmas gifts for their kids and place them under my tree. I really like this Christmas tradition - I get to be with the girls, and I don't have to wrap the Christmas gifts! It's definitely a win-win situation.
Other Christmas traditions
In early December, the girls and the grandkids all attend our town's Christmas parade together, and they stick around for the other activities after the parade. The downtown area has food booths, free rides, and free bouncy houses for the kids.
Of course, the kids have to go visit Santa at some point in December. We also like to take in a couple of other Christmas activities, which vary from year to year. This year, we went to an event about thirty miles away. Actually, we did this just last night. It was a hayride through thousands of Christmas lights, along the edge of a lake. Before the ride, the kids roasted marshmallows over a fire and drank hot cocoa. The proceeds from this event go to Relay for Life and Toys for Tots. After spending an hour or two there, we all went out for pizza.
Family Christmas traditions: Christmas Eve
I said I would write a hub about our family Christmas traditions for Christmas Eve, so here it is. Sorry it’s so late, but I just got the photographs downloaded, and I didn’t want to write an article without pics! The photos were taken at my house, where the family meets on Christmas Eve every year. We follow the same Christmas traditions year after year. I guess that's what makes them traditions, right? Every December, I think that maybe we’ll try something different, but we never do. I guess I’m really into traditions, and I hope the girls will carry some of ours on after I’m gone.
Christmas Eve morning, the girls and all the grands come to my house. The kids are dressed in holiday attire, complete with Santa caps and reindeer ears. We take a huge bag of candy canes and visit a local nursing home. The old folks really enjoy seeing and visiting with the children as the kids pass out the candy.
Upon leaving the nursing home, we all go to a restaurant for an early lunch. After that, we return to my house and set out Christmas dinner for the critters. We live across the street from a small patch of woods, so we have a lot of wildlife for the suburbs. We also have several feral cats. We put out food for the cats, birds, and squirrels in my yard, then we walk to the woods and leave goodies for the rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and foxes.
On the evening of Christmas Eve, everyone returns to my house: my three daughters, my three sons-in-law, and my eight grandchildren. I make them all enter through the front door because Johnny and I will have decorated the front porch and the yard. The kids love the reindeer and the snowmen on the lawn.
When the grandchildren arrive, they're all dressed in their Christmas pajamas. I buy matching Christmas jammies for them every year after Thanksgiving.
Everyone brings in their stack of xmas gifts and adds them to the pile under the tree. And when I say pile, I mean pile! They won’t fit under the tree, even though it’s huge. Christmas gifts are everywhere! And the stockings for the grands are hung from the living room mantel. Next year, we’ll be adding another one!
After depositing their presents, the girls bring in their food. We don’t do a big meal on Christmas Eve. Since the kids will all be having big Christmas dinners the next day at their in-laws, we all decided years ago to have hors d’oeuvres on Christmas Eve. We always have homemade cookies, cheese spread, crackers, brownies, candy, boiled shrimp, chicken salad on croissants, hot wings, veggies and dip, fresh fruit, roast beef roll-ups, hot crab spread, and lots of other goodies.
After everyone eats, someone reads the Christmas story from the Bible. I like Luke’s version best, so that’s read by either my oldest daughter or me. Of course, by this time, the kids are anxious to get on with the present opening! The oldest grandchild will be nine next month, and the youngest one is eighteen months old. The others are eight, seven, six, five, and two, so it’s quite a circus!
Someone is appointed to hand out the xmas gifts, which starts the pandemonium! Papers and ribbons fly in all directions, amid the squeals of delight from the kids and thank-you’s from the adults. The little ones usually pick out a favorite toy and begin playing with it immediately. Johnny always has a good supply of batteries on hand for those gadgets and playthings that require power. Honestly, my living room looks like a toy store! I always go overboard on gifts for the kids and grandkids. Johnny and I don’t spend much on each other, but for the rest of the family, I start shopping in July or August. Around Christmastime, the grandchildren no longer call me “Nana.” I become “Nana Claus”!
After all the gifts have been opened, the guys place all the wrappings in a big garbage bag and load everything into their vehicles. They leave a few toys to entertain the kids, and while the adults enjoy some eggnog or some coffee with Bailey’s, the little kids run around in circles – literally. They so enjoy being with all their cousins!
Before everyone leaves, Papa (Johnny) takes all the kids outside to look for Santa in the night sky. Luckily, there’s a tower near our house with a red light on top, so the little ones are convinced that they see Rudolph’s nose. With that, they’re ready to hurry home and get into bed so that Santa won’t catch them awake when he makes his stop. We all say our goodbyes.
After the family leaves, a couple of friends usually come over for a visit. We nibble on some of the leftover party foods, talk, laugh, and enjoy a drink or two. When our friends leave, Johnny and I give the dogs their Christmas presents, and we go to bed.
Family Christmas traditions: Christmas Day
Early the next morning, we get up and have coffee. Then it’s off to visit the grandkids to see what Santa brought them. We start at my middle daughter’s house. She lives just up the street and has three kids. We stay a few minutes and take picks, then we head to my oldest daughter’s house. She lives about ten miles away. After that, we travel through back woods to my youngest daughter’s house, where we enjoy Christmas breakfast. On the way home, we stop by my brother’s house, then Johnny and I make the circle complete by ending up back at our own cozy home.
Johnny and I spend the rest of Christmas Day being totally lazy. We watch TV and movies, eat leftovers, and nap. We usually make a few phone calls to visit with distant friends and to wish them a merry Christmas. Then we start dreading taking down all the holiday decorations. Part of me thinks that we’ll just leave them up all year! After all, isn’t that what Southern rednecks are supposed to do? We also spend some time discussing how fortunate we are and how much we have to be thankful for. I fully believe that this should be a big part of everyone's family Christmas traditions.