O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Unique Holiday Traditions

I’ve been in several discussions lately with friends about the importance of tradition when it comes to families and holidays. Unless your family traditions involve father-son fisticuffs and drunkenness, traditions are usually the kinds of things that bring people together, contribute to a sense of community and belonging, and make a family unique.

The best traditions accomplish all those things while also staying true to the inherent weirdness of most families. And all good families are a little weird. As an example, here are a couple of our family traditions.

1. The Thanksgiving Foot Race. This is a new tradition. This year, my brother and brother-in-law and I decided to compete in a family foot race. We put on our running shoes, shorts, and (in my brother’s case) an old-school headband. We stepped out into the street in front of my house. My dad sounded the horn of his truck, and the three of us launched into a race from my house to my parents’ house. The total distance is about two miles.


We’re all reasonably fit. My brother has been training for a half-marathon. I race in sprint triathlons. My brother-in-law? He’s in good shape, too, but doesn’t run that much. We thought it would be a decent competition. But it turns out the brothe-in-law was a high school track star and, um, neglected to tell us that part of his personal history. We got toasted.

2. Brownie Pong. Every Christmas — in fact, every holiday — we look forward to multiple games of ping-pong with my grandfather, Brownie. He just turned 88 years old, but is spry enough still to beat me every other game (and occasionally more than that), and I’m marginally skilled at the pong. But every week throughout the year, Brownie goes to the local retirement center to play against some “young fellas” from Korea. These “young fellas”? They’re in their early 70s. I’m guessing Brownie probably beats them, too. When I’m in my ninth decade, I sure hope to be humiliating my grandchildren at some competitive activity.



So what are your weird holiday traditions? Please share.

Note: I’m calling these “holiday” traditions not in an attempt to be 14% offensive or whatever, but just so that you’ll know it applies to all the major year-end holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah, and New Year’s. So there.

Comments read comments(19)
post a comment

posted December 9, 2009 at 9:08 am

i love the idea of new traditions…. it seems to me that while your traditions take different forms they are all really about family. my kids are adults but it is interesting to see what traditions from our house have gone with them. the first is new christmas pj's. these are given to be worn on christmas eve. i am sure the tradition started so no one was wearing a torn tshirt or worse in christmas morning pictures.the second is opening gifts from siblings on christmas eve.the third is one i wish would come back… christmas eve family time with homemade reuben sandwiches rather than christmas food.making good memories is one of the best gifts of christmas.

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 9:11 am

How many people are going to say their holiday traditions include feats of strength? My husband always wants to add that timeless tradition.

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 9:15 am

Christmas Eve is build-your-own-pizza night. No matter how few or how many people are around, the concept scales really well and makes for a great time of connecting during the assembly, cooking, and eating.

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 9:20 am

Just the words "feats of strength" make me laugh. It's brilliant. I picture not quotidian activities like arm wrestling, but imaginative, utterly silly things like pole tossing and uncle pressing.As for my family, the first tradition that comes to mind is the wrapping dive. As we open presents Christmas morning, we toss all the wrapping paper into the middle of the living room floor. It soon creates a sea. When all the presents are opened, my nieces and daughter jump in the middle of it, bury themselves, and giggle.I started this bit of whimsy years ago, and it has stuck around. Good times.

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 9:24 am

My brothers-in-law (twins) are always highly competitive, and my mother-in-law has always had some sort of competition for everyone to participate in. We've had cookie decorating contests, that silly sheet where you guess what Christmas carol the song represents, etc. This year at Thanksgiving we had a sidewalk chalk competition in the driveway so that the kids could participate. If you live somewhere warm enough to go outside, that's great fun! This year everyone is married and we had enough people to play a decent pickup football game in the yard – I think that will be a recurring tradition. Thanksgiving isn't ever complete until we've set up the Christmas decorations in the yard – somehow we've all fallen into our regular jobs, and I'm dang good at setting up those silly spiral light trees.

report abuse

Jason Boyett

posted December 9, 2009 at 9:25 am

shuey: the "wrapping dive" is a great idea. I've always been the one to gather up the paper as it's torn off, just to keep the floor clear. But a big pile of paper? That would be awesome.

report abuse

Ruth in the Desert

posted December 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

We celebrate our heritage, one country per week in December: Germany, Sweden, Ireland, England, Scotland. We read about Christmas traditions in those countries, and eat ethnic food (and buy a few bottles of ethnic drinks). My birthday is in late December, and I love my tradition of having my presents under the Christmas tree. It's my own personal Christmas.

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 11:18 am

WRAPPING DIVE! I am laughing so hard! We are totally doing that this year.

report abuse

Dan Lewis

posted December 9, 2009 at 11:37 am

Our family usually goes to breakfast before we get our Christmas tree. Also, not just at Christmastime, but anytime family visits from out of state we have a tradition that we do when they leave. We wave both hands in the air and one foot to say good-bye as they pull out of the driveway. We would wave both feet if only we could find a way to hover.I also know a guy named Brownie. He's 91 and passes out the bulletins at church. He's such a sweet and wonderful old guy. The college group I was involved with invited him to our Christmas party last year, he had a lot of fun;

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 12:13 pm

On Christmas Eve my family goes to the Pike Place Market (in Seattle). I'm 24 years old, and they started it before I was born. We walk around, buy last minute Christmas gifts and take pictures. It is really a lot of fun.

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm

A couple of traditions for years have been:1 – Watching "It's a Wonderful Life" at some point as a family. We used to do it on Christmas Eve but found the grandparents were falling asleep (even snoring) during the show. We now find a night when those who truly appreciate the story will stay awake and watch. This year I'm not so into the movie b/c I am living the musical production!!2 – The morning after Christmas when the kids were small we would go out to the mall or other stores to purchase "half-price" ornaments (now most stores put them on half-price before Christmas) then go to breakfast. Each of our children has a box of ornaments they have chosen over the years to have for their trees. Unfortunately I hear them say as they look through their selection from time to time, "what was I thinking when I picked that one?"; pretty funny.

report abuse

Nicole Wick

posted December 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

We don't have any strange traditions ourselves but we did know someone from a group we were in that kept her tree up until Good Friday. That is crazy.

report abuse

Stretch Mark Mama

posted December 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Hubs and I have always watched a Christmasy girly movie on Dec 24th. Course, one year that happened to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy–but that's how we roll.It's also been a longstanding tradition on my mom's side of the family to give toothbrushes and toothpaste in the stocking. Because we have a bit of a fetish with plaque, I suppose.

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm

The punching of the gingerbread house.My cousins decorate an elaborate gingerbread house every year. They bring it to our family Christmas, we all ooh and aah over it, and then my brothers punch it as hard as they can. It's suddenly in edible bite-size pieces.Highly recommended.

report abuse

V. Higgins

posted December 9, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Love the gingerbread house punching! ^_^Whenever my family would decorate the tree someone would end up 'decorated' as well, that's how they initiated my now husband. :-PMy friend grew up with her dad grilling bbq ribs on Christmas Eve and Santa always had beer and ribs waiting for him! Love that idea!*random* My verification word is "deligho" and I hear it as a battle cry… "DeligHO!!" ^_^

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Thanksgiving tradition: The Mix-Off. We each create a 5-6 song mix (cd or mp3). We listen to the music while we all cook together. At the end of the day, we rate the mixes. This year's winning playlist, called, "A Thanksgiving Feast Through Song" 1: Istanbul (They MightBeGiants), 2: Mashed Potato Time (DeeDee Sharp) 3: Sweet Pea (Amos Lee) 4: Dreams (The Cranberries (yeah, I know!)) 5: Sweet Potato Pie (James Taylor, Ray Charles 6: Apples Peaches & Pumpkin Pie (Jay and the Techniques)

report abuse


posted December 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Our family Christmas Tree Decorating Tradition: We watch Die Hard while we decorate our tree. Nuthin' says "Christmas" like a terrorist attack on Nakatome Plaza.Alternative tree decorating movie: The Long Kiss Goodnight. You're welcome.(I say this because I know I just made you feel superior to me).

report abuse

second chair

posted December 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm

We have food traditions – cheese fondue Christmas Eve, coffee cake Christmas morning, lasagna Christmas Day. We're not really unique people but we have been attending a movie on Christmas Day for several years. Always amazed at the size of the crowds,too.

report abuse


posted December 10, 2009 at 7:13 am

Good chuckle over your footrace. Reminds me of the time I challenged a former US collegiate champion horseshoe pitcher to a game of– horseshoes. I was also informed belatedly of his prowess.Twenty-one-zip, eight pitches.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting O Me Of Little Faith. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent ...

posted 2:25:22pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Farewell, O Me of Little Faith
You said you had a big announcement coming today. What is it? The announcement is this: Right now you are reading the final post on this blog. Ever. Ever? Ever. So you're shutting this blog down? Well, I'm going to stop writing ...

posted 6:11:49am Jun. 01, 2011 | read full post »

My Introvert Interview
On Monday, author Adam McHugh delivered a guest post about the "snarling 8-headed monster" of the writing process. Today I return the favor -- sort of -- via an interview at his blog, Introverted Church. We talk about how my introverted ...

posted 3:05:36pm May. 25, 2011 | read full post »

Harold Camping: "Invisible Judgment Day"
When the rapture didn't occur as predicted on May 21, 2011, Harold Camping had a few options. Here is how he could have responded to the failed prediction, in descending levels of crazy: 1. He could announce that he was wrong. This is the ...

posted 9:06:24am May. 24, 2011 | read full post »

The Phases of Writing (Adam McHugh)
If you've ever felt out of place among all the exciting, expressive, emotional enthusiasm of a contemporary church service...or an evangelist's demands that you need to constantly be sharing your faith boldly to strangers...if it simply wipes ...

posted 7:46:00am May. 23, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.