Christmas Traditions

December 13, 2020
christmas traditions imagery

Does your family have Christmas traditions?

If I’m honest, mine really doesn’t. Sure, we did things as my sister and I were kids but most of them didn’t last as we grew up. So is that really a tradition then?

I’ve always loved the idea of traditions in general and get a sense of nostalgia when I hear people talk of theirs (Christmas or otherwise). So I’m on a mission to bring back Christmas traditions to my holiday.

Christmas traditions we did as kids

As I mentioned, there are certain things my family did when my sister and I were younger. There were traditions at one point I guess, so they make the list.

A special breakfast.

My sister swears up and down that every year on Christmas morning, we had pancakes. I don’t remember that at all (and I’m the older one!) but it’s something she remembers and so I’m saying it was a Christmas tradition for us.

Seeing Santa Claus at the mall.

I’m sure this is one that everyone did either as a kid or with their own kids. No further explanation needed here.

Dad lifting me up to put the tree topper on top.

Again, I think this one is pretty standard for most folks. And obviously once I got older (and heavier) this tradition moved on to my younger sister.

Driving around and looking at Christmas lights in the neighborhood.

This was always a lot of fun for me. Especially living in Austin where you get some pretty creative Christmas lights in certain neighborhoods. We’d put some hot chocolate in a mug and drive around. I don’t know why we eventually stopped doing this. Even adults can enjoy festive Christmas lights!

Family time decorating the tree with beverages in hand.

I know I said that the traditions in my family didn’t quite stand the test of time. But this one has. We still do this to this day, only our drinks our more alcoholic in nature these days.

Opening one present on Christmas Eve.

This was a tradition that my mom did when she was growing up and so it continued into our family. Usually, the present we opened were pajamas but every once in a while, we got to pick which present we opened. If you were smart, you didn’t choose the flat rectangle ‘pajama’ box.

Hosting a Lights Out Party.

This wasn’t actually with my immediate family but with some of my dearest friends and it has become one of my favorite annual traditions. It’s based on a Celtic Ceilidh (pronounced “Cay-Lee”) and in it’s most basic translation it just means a social visit. But in true Scottish and Irish nature, it’s a party.

In our version of the Lights Out Party, we banned electricity (lights, phones, you name it) and all light came from candles and the fireplace. Going back to traditional Celtic nature where the hearth was home, we all gather around the fire and eat, drink, sing songs, play music, recite poems, have philosophical conversations, and just enjoy each other’s company.

It became the night of the year I most looked forward to and I so miss it each year now that we no longer do it anymore.

Christmas Traditions I’d like to start up again.

Like I said, we don’t have many on that list above that we still do. Really, the only one is getting together as a family to decorate my parents’ Christmas tree.

But there are a few I’d like to start up again.

  • Driving around and looking at Christmas lights
  • A special Christmas breakfast (but not necessarily pancakes)
  • Lights Out party

Christmas Traditions I’d like to add that we’ve never done before.

There’s nothing like starting something new. It’s exciting. This year, I’m adding the following Christmas Traditions to our repertoire and we’ll see which ones make the cut for future years.

Making a Christmas craft.

I like to think I’m a creative person. But I’m not necessarily crafty. So this one may not be one that sticks around. But I’ll give it the ol’ college try and see what comes about.

This year, I want to make dried orange garlands like these. I think they will look so cute on our ‘rustic’ tree.

Selecting a special ornament together.

This isn’t the first Christmas my boyfriend and I have spent together. But it is the first one where we actually had a tree at the house. So it seems like the perfect year to start this Christmas tradition.

This year, we picked up two (I can’t find the link to them, sorry!) and honestly, there was no sentimental reason other than we loved them for some reason. The first was just a rustic farmhouse sign that said ‘Merry Christmas’ and the second was a bundle of birch logs. Yes, an ornament that is a bundle of logs. But for some reason we both were really drawn to that so we got it!

Room for improvement next year, definitely. Maybe we’ll find a more sentimental reason for our selection. Especially now that we know it’s a tradition 😉

Cutting down our Christmas Tree together.

This is the first year ever that I have gone to a Christmas tree farm and cut down the family Christmas tree. J used to do that a lot as a kid and so he was adamant that he wanted to do it this year.

And we did.

And it was a lot of fun! It has definitely been decided that it will be a tradition that sticks around for years to come. We went to Elgin Christmas Tree Farm and even brought the doggo. We all had a blast.

I made a YouTube video about the experience (along with decorating the house for Christmas) if you care to watch it. If all you’re interested in is the Christmas tree farm, that part is right in the beginning.

Have a Christmas Movie Marathon.

This one is ambitious for me. Only because I’m like a grandma and I go to bed at 9pm most nights. I’m lucky if I make it through one movie, let along multiple. But there are enough Christmas movies we hope to get through to warrant an attempt at a marathon at least.

Important movies we want to include:

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • White Christmas
  • A Christmas Story
  • Christmas Chronicles 2 (we watched the first one last year)
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • and maybe Elf if we can get to it.

This sounds like multiple movie marathons to me. I don’t know that I can handle it.

Mail Christmas cards to friends and family.

Welp. I’ve already missed the boat on this for this year. But it’s so nice when you get something in the mail that isn’t a bill or an Amazon package. When it’s a surprise and shows you that someone is thinking about you. That’s the best.

Next year, I’m all over this Christmas tradition.

Decorate on Dec 1st.

We did this intentionally this year. In previous years, it’s always just been decorate when you have time to decorate. But this year, thank you 2020 and a global pandemic, I wanted Christmas cheer to last a while. But I also refuse to decorate before Thanksgiving.

So December 1st became the goal. We didn’t do it all in one night, mind you. We started with the tree. Then it got to be past my bedtime so we did the rest of the house throughout the week. But, having the tree up every day of December so far has been lovely. And now that the rest of the house is decorated too, we’re just happy. We smile when we turn the lights on in the evening. We smile when we wake up in the morning to the fresh pine tree smell. I laugh at the cute little signs with Christmas puns that I put up in the kitchen when I’m cooking dinner (‘Baking Spirits Bright’ and ‘We Whisk You a Merry Christmas’).

Here’s my latest YouTube video that shows how we decorated. I realize it’s the same video as the one posted above but in case you skipped right on past the tree farm and came down to the decorating tradition, figured it couldn’t hurt to link it again. 🙂

After the year that was 2020, who doesn’t want a bit of light and laughter in their life?

Make a family holiday bucket list for the month.

So this one is new and not new for me at the same time. I’m no stranger to bucket lists. I have a love hate relationship with them. I love the idea of them. I’m also a list person so I love making a list and crossing things off it. But, sometimes you then become someone who is looking for the next thing to cross off their list instead of enjoying the calm moments in between. Also, you then sometimes feel bad when you don’t get something done that you wanted to do. Maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, so this time, I want to do a Christmas bucket list but allow for the spaced in between. Figured the best way is that each person gets only one thing to put on the list. It makes a shorter list, everyone gets at least one thing they really want to do, and you can still find adventures along the way.

So there you have it, folks. My list of Christmas traditions, both new and old, that I’m going to make an effort to do this year and future years.

What about you? What are some traditions you’ve done year after year? Are there any new ones you want to start?

Happy Holidays, friends.

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