Thursday, December 1, 2016

Just Curious...What are your Holiday Traditions?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year as I know it is for many. I love the change that seems to come over people it is almost like they have been sprinkled with fairy dust. For a few weeks a year people seem friendlier and happier. There is a spring in their step and a smile on their face and sometimes you can even catch them singing  along to the carols on the radio.

I call it the magic of Christmas. I'm not talking about presents, I am talking about memories, and traditions, the things that fill your heart with joy, wonder and happiness. 

So today I am asking you, what are your family traditions, what are the rituals or things that you do year after year and continue to do or share with our own family. I realize that not everyone who reads this blog celebrates Christmas so if you celebrate hanukah or something else please share your memories of that instead. 

In my family, we set up our tree on Thanksgiving or the day after. At my moms we actually have two trees one that is more traditional and fancy and the other which we call the kids tree. This tree is filled with ornaments that we have been given over the years that reflect our personalities and interests at different times of our lives. The other ornaments are the ones that we have made and we laugh out loud when we pull them out of the boxes, "marveling" at our young talents with buttons and glue. Even after all of these years we can still remember where we were when we made them and why, like a snow day or a sick day, etc. 

My mothers family is German and we have always celebrated the feat of St. Nicholas. On the 5th of December we put out our or socks or shoes and when we wake the next morning they are filled with candy and an orange. 

We love to have movie night, every night that we are together and we watch the same holiday movies that we have for years and eat caramel corn made with the same recipe that my grandmother used to make. 

My grandmother baked for weeks and weeks before Christmas, there were at least a dozen different cookies, stollen, chocolate salami, cinnamon rolls, breads and more. All of the cookies were stored in a closet until Christmas Eve, unless you snuck in there and ate a few ahead of time. I still bake many of her recipes and send them to family and friends just as she did. 

We go to see The Nutcracker, the Christmas Carol or some other concert. My personal favorites are the early music concerts at the Cathedral. 

My family has a cookie exchange and they get together and share their creations some of which are my grandmothers recipes and some of which are new. 

On Christmas eve we have an open house and  friends and family come over for dinner, scrumptious desserts, we exchange gifts and then we attend midnight mass at the Cathedral.

We get to open one gift on Christmas eve and typically it is pajamas.

One night we get a cup of cocoa and we drive around looking at the Christmas lights. In fact when I am at home my mom and I do it almost every night. We drive all over looking at the lights, the moon on Lake Michigan, the new decorations downtown and we just talk, laugh and listen to Christmas music. It is actually one of my favorite things to do with her. 

On Christmas morning and there is a trail of candy from the fireplace to the tree, that Santa dropped from his pack while he was leaving the gifts. We love it now as much as we did when we were kids and my nieces and nephew love it as well.

These are just a few of my favorite family traditions. What are yours? I would love to hear about what you and your family do to celebrate the holidays. 

Have a great day!



  1. Loved reading a few of your traditions, it put me in a very festive mood. Here in France nowhere has turned on their Christmas lights yet, it will happen either on the 1st or at the weekend. I am itching to start decorating but know I must wait another week at least!

  2. We absolutely have a decorating day. The tree arrived yesterday. Today we will decorate, all together. Andy Williams must be singing Christmas carols. He is the ultimate. Various tacky decorations (plush dancing Santa, for example) that were given by beloved relatives take up their traditional positions. Later we will make thousands of Christmas cookies to give to just about everybody we know (not a thing in France, but everybody goes nuts for the cookies). And one night we will watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special. We’re also having a holiday party in two weeks. Already last week, the city decorations were up and the ice rink and Christmas village were being installed.

  3. Ohhhh, look at those pupsters!!!!!!!!

    Well, our traditions have changed over the years, having started out as a young couple in California then being transplants in two different states. When all the family was together in L.A., good Latino food (Puerto Rican and Mexican) was always had. Whenever I smell the spices, I can almost cry from the memories. In Boston, we made merry with other student friends, often traveling to D.C. for parties. Here in Minneapolis, our current tradition for 19 years has been to stay at home, together, and wait for midnight like children, to open gifts. But the greatest thing for us is being together for TWO WHOLE WEEKS off from work. Seeking the quiet so that old Christmas memories can be replayed is what I love the most these days.

  4. We would unwrap presents on Christmas Eve. There'd be stocking stuffers the following morning, but Christmas Day was meant for the actual reason for the season. My mother would bake a lot of cookies and other stuff in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

    These days it's quiet for me. I don't have kids, so there's that, and the holiday's become something of a painful reminder to me.

  5. OPEN GIFTS CHRISTMAS EVE AFTER DINNER.................STOCKINGS in the AM of the 25th.

  6. I LOVE this post and reading about your treasured holiday traditions!! Two of my favorite traditions are Christmas Eve cocktails and appetizers (as dinner) and reading "The Night Before Christmas" to my now adult children (one son rolls his eyes, the other two can't wait). Sending you big hugs, sweet Elizabeth!! xoxo

  7. We always open a few gifts from each other on Christmas Eve after a traditional family dinner (25 of us) and then Christmas day is for Santa! We can hardly wait!

  8. I love this post and hearing about the traditions you hold so dear. We love to watch our favorite movies together too. We host family Christmas Eve for very fancy food and drink and a gag gift exchange game. and when they leave, our own family exchanges gifts and opens them smash eve like Swedes. On Christmas day, we morph into lazy lazy souls and eat Swedish pancakes and sausage after sleeping in. The fire is crackling and we sometimes stay in pjs as we talk to loved ones on the phone across the miles. We don't overindulge in gifts but rather aim to surprise each other by finding just the right unexpected items to bring a broad smile. Hav a wonderful week, friend, and thank you for the lovely all year round. xox


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