71: Christmas Traditions – a celebration of ideas
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Christmas traditions can be a very special part of the holiday season. However, since Christmas traditions are often specific to a family, we’re often unaware of the great things that families outside of our own are doing to celebrate the holidays. Today we’re talking about fun things that other farmish folk families do in honor of the Christmas season. Who knows, you may find something new you’d like to start with your own farmish folk!
A very special thanks to all the readers and listeners who answered my quick call out on my Facebook page, my MeWe page, and via my newsletter. Thank you for being willing to share your Christmas traditions!
(Don’t want to read all the words? This blog post is also a podcast—just press the triangle play button on the little black bar at the top of this post!)
Some of my own Christmas traditions…
The funny thing is that sometimes you don’t know you’re creating Christmas traditions.
When the kids were little, my hubby would take one kid and I’d take the other and we’d go Christmas shopping. Then we’d meet for lunch, switch kids, and continue shopping. The boys could shop for their brother and the parent that wasn’t with them, and hubby and I could shop for each other. We didn’t think we were making a tradition. It was just a time saver.
Until December of 2011. We were freak-out deep in moving to the farm—our closing was December 27th—and Hubby and I had taken care of most the shopping early and also online. On a quick shopping trip a couple weeks before Christmas to grab toilet paper and dish soap, our oldest (then 8) asked, “um, aren’t we going to do that Christmas Shopping Day thing?” In my haste I told him everything had been taken care of, and we could grab something for Dad/Brother online. My tough 8 year old sat down in Walmart and cried, saying, “but the Christmas shopping day is our tradition!”
Y’all there was no time to make the Christmas Shopping Day happen, but we made it happen. I still don’t know how we got it to work. But we did it. Because apparently we’d created a tradition without realizing we’d created a tradition.
Another of the Christmas traditions we have is to make a birthday cake on Christmas Eve night and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. This tradition has somehow managed to persist since the kids were little, even though we have differing faith beliefs in our household.
Christmas traditions from readers and listeners:
“I have several Christmas traditions that we do. One is every since I married my husband 20 years ago, just the two of us take a moonlit and sometimes snowy Christmas Eve walk down our lane in the woods. Another is Christmas morning, after Santa gifts are done, we have a big breakfast of creamed dried beef, toast, hash browns and eggs. When my kids were younger we would watch all the Christmas cartoons and have popcorn while snuggling on the couch, and put milk and cookies out on our special Santa plate for Christmas Eve. There are many more traditions we have but those 3 are out favorite.” — Midge
“I get our kids each an new ornament for the tree based on whatever they are interested in that year. We have everything from Disney characters to Scooby Doo—and of course some farm animals—on the tree. I also write the year and which kid so we know years later. This year we laid them all out in order and looked at them before placing on the tree. The kids are 10 and 4 — it was something I started without realizing and they love it!” — Robyn
“A Christmas tradition for me was doing somewhat of a Secret Santa, but for ugly pajamas. Everyone that would be spending Christmas Eve with us would draw names on Thanksgiving and whatever name you got, you tried to find the ugliest pajamas for them to wear on Christmas Eve at our family party. This would be a fun and funny way to spend Christmas Eve. Alas, that tradition isn’t followed anymore by my family as that tradition, as well as the farm, stayed with the ex. Hope you’re well. And Merry Christmas to you and your family.” — Alvin
“We put put a piece of straw in an empty manger each time we do a good deed for others to make a soft bed for the Christ child.” — Alison
“A tradition I’ve had to abandon of the last decade but might be making a comeback this year: there is a theater that screens It’s A Wonderful Life. I used to go watch it and then attend midnight mass. One that’s new in the last decade is that I tune in to the BBC live broadcast of Lessons and Carols from Kings College in Cambridge on Christmas Eve, (usually around 10 am central US time) and wrap presents or do other Christmasy things.” — Bryan
“My family used to always watch ‘A White Christmas’.” — Ken
“Lasagna for dinner Christmas Eve. Bake brownie balls and snowmen, then eat the snowmen head first. First mass Christmas morning.
Woken up by sleigh bells and “Ho Ho Ho.” My oldest younger brother and I handing out the gifts from under the tree. As adults, my husband and I always pick up 4 cheap-o Nerf guns for us and my brothers, and we have a mini battle. It will be interesting to see how it goes this Christmas with Little Man, and then my husband has to work —so he won’t be with us. My husband and I also buy an ornament whenever we go somewhere, so we have a handful of ornaments from our trips we plan on adding to over the years.” — Lettie Loo
“Every year I get each family member an ornament which is opened on Christmas eve.” — Veronica
“Christmas Eve brunch with our adult children and their spouses. Waffles, bacon, fresh side, 2 kinds of sausage, ham, eggs and biscuits. All gluten free, as my daughter and I have celiac disease. We refer to it as Porkfest.” — Beth
“Every year since my kids have been babies I buy them a Christmas ornament that will be given to them once they move out. I do this because my first Christmas tree had no ornaments on it because I had just enough money to buy a tree— nothing else. We bake cookies and buckeyes for Santa and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty, and the Grinch back to back. Kids are 18 & 15 and we still do this. Christmas Eve night, we ride the neighborhood looking at Christmas light. This year we are switching it up a little bit and driving about an hour away to a town that really does it up for Christmas. They advertise that have 6.5 million lights so this Christmas Eve we will be making the trip over there to check their lights out.” — Candi
“Growing up we would always go out for Chinese buffet as our Christmas dinner. My younger sister was born three days after Christmas and my mother said there was no way she was going to cook that pregnant. Thanks to A Christmas Story, it stuck.” — Rose
“We don’t have a fireplace to hang stockings from, but we have a chalkboard wall …. We draw a fireplace mural on it each Christmas season and hang our stockings on it on Christmas Eve. The past few years, we’ve added popular ‘characters’ to the murals. I haven’t been feeling festive this year, (and am behind on creating the scene) so a partially finished Ebeneezer Scrooge is glaring at us.” — Betty Jo
“We make Moravian Sugar Cakes and deliver them to folks we think need a sugary boost.” — Lucy
“A tradition that my husband and I have (started since we started dating) is to go out and hunt our Christmas tree in the Colorado mountains. (We cut in a designated permit area). We make a day of it: I fix a big pot of chili the night before, we pack our camp stove and cookware, fixings for hot chocolate, and then spend about 2 hours on average hiking through the forest, searching for a tree. After we cut it down and haul it back to our SUV, hubby lashes the tree to the vehicle while I work on our food and beverage. All in all, it is a fun day and something we look forward to every year. And as a side note, sometimes some bourbon ends up in the hot chocolate. And there was that year, my eyes were bigger than the selected tree. Not only did it take 3 people to haul it out of the woods, but it was also twice as long as our SUV (think the Griswolds) and our home only has 8′ ceilings. While our tradition may not be perfect, it has created some wonderful memories that we still talk about to this day.” — Connie from Urban Overalls
“My favorite tradition is to save a slice of the tree trunk every year to make into an ornament. I love it.” — Megan
“As a family we combined some American traditions with the German traditions I grew up with. The tree has real candles on it, it doesn’t go up until the 23rd or so and stays up till January 6th. We all cook a Christmas meal together on the 24th, and unwrap all the German presents then, as it is my Christmas.” — Karin
“We wrap a book for each of our kids and sneak it in their beds while they sleep. They open them on Christmas morning. We have been doing it for 12 years! Give us parents more time to sleep and the kids something to get excited about right when they wake up!” — Jackie
“A few years ago we started going to a cabin in the mountains in lieu of gifts. It’s been an amazing thing. We spend time doing things together instead of gifts. It makes us focus more on other traditions like movies, cookie baking, gingerbread houses, etc.” — Jennifer
“I make my version of mulled cider in the crock pot and of course we make a gingerbread something in honor of my late mother…usually as gingerbread cookies or scones, along with pumpkin dog biscuits for my doggie gang.” — Jessica
“On Christmas Eve, my daughter (who is 9) and I lay under the Christmas tree, looking at the lights. I tell her the story of the birth of Jesus and we talk about goals and dreams for the next year.” — Becky
“The holidays are always hectic for us. We have a minimum of four family gatherings, in three or more cities, spanning two countries. One thing we look forward to is doing our chores together Christmas morning, getting ready together, loading up the car together, and holding hands for part of the first hour long drive.”– Nicole from Frontiere Farmhouse
“My three kids and I have always decorated cut out sugar cookies. When they were really young they made such a mess with the colored icings and sprinkles, but they also had such fun. These days my grown up daughters and I get together and make those cookies as well as 8 or more different Christmas cookies to give as gifts to family and friends…my son just likes to eat them now.” — Christina
“Anyone who comes to dinner on Christmas Eve at our house, signs the tablecloth. I then embroider their signature with a different color for each year.” — Heather
“Every year we buy each other Christmas pajamas to open on Christmas Eve. Then wear them Christmas morning while we open gifts, eat breakfast, and hang out.” — Jamie
“My favorite tradition is rooted in my Danish ancestry: kalenderlys, a Danish advent candle. We decorate our own candle, numbering it 1-24, starting at the top, and burn the candle each night (traditionally done in the morning, but we prefer evenings as we are all home together) down through that respective number, starting on the 1st and ending on Christmas Eve! It’s magical.” — Emily
“Sugar cookie decorating with meringue powder royal icing for that perfect sugar cookie smooth look. After they sit for a few days and absorb all the icing moisture they are the best Christmas treats. We use paintbrushes to decorate with and tons of different sprinkles. I love watching how their decorating changes each year.” — Jennie
“Cut out and painting Christmas cookies. All the kids gathered to roll out dough and pick a cookie cutter shape. Once baked we enjoyed cups of colored icing painting cookies. Sprinkles too. Once 16, my niece was upset I did not have it. We did pin ornaments instead. Craft was not as special as my Gramma’s from scratch cookie tradition.” — Kimala
“Pickle ornament! We hide the pickle ornament then who ever finds it gets a prize (board game). Also, I bake friends cookies from their family recipes! I collect their requests and recipes in November, then deliver them the week before Christmas. It’s a lazy way of collecting good recipes!” — Christine
“To keep the kids interested in making gingerbread houses with me, I let them destroy them with Godzilla when we are done.” — Kathleen
“Christmas Eve we pull mattresses and blankets in to the living room. Set up the TV on a blanket chest right in front. We all snuggle in and have snacks and a movie marathon.” — Ali
“I buy an ornament for each of my kids each year. I try to capture something that was important to each one that year. Even though they are adults now, I still do it. It could be a special achievement or a favorite sports team. But I try to make it so they can look at their tree and have fond memories of bygone days.” — Patricia
“My uncle started a tradition when I was 3 (so 50 years now) of insisting that the little ones in the family have their own Christmas tree. He passed away shortly after from leukemia but many people in my extended family have at least 2 trees in their homes. One for the adults, and one for the little ones in his memory.” — Lisa
Christmas traditions connect people to each other
Christmas traditions, whether new or old, can be powerful ways to connect a family. Thank you so much for sharing some of your Christmas traditions with us. Merry Christmas!
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