O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

What Are Your Christmas Traditions?

I’m relying on you for today’s post by asking two simple questions:


1) What is your favorite personal and/or family Christmas tradition?

2) What is your strangest or most unique Christmas tradition?


Ready? Go. (My answers to these questions are in the comments.)

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Jason Boyett

posted December 2, 2010 at 7:41 am

1. Our gift-opening routine on Christmas Eve. We gather as a family, with multiple generations involved. We sit in a circle and the grandchildren distribute the gifts, which we then open…one person at a time, around the circle, with everyone watching. This takes longer (of course), but it has a way of honoring the giver and spotlighting each gift and savoring the moment. As a kid, when I heard that some families just open all their gifts at once in a flurry of paper and ribbon, I thought that was craziness. Because it’s all over in a matter of minutes, and who knows what’s what? Our way rules.
2. Each of the stockings at my parents’ house is loaded with hardware in the form of buttons, badges, and pins. Not sure how this tradition began, but every year my mom buys new Christmas pins and attaches them to the stockings. And if I encounter some kind of pin or button during the year, I’ll usually save it for my stocking. After two decades, mine is starting to become pretty heavy. You know those people at the Olympics who are only there because they collect the commemorative pins? And they wear vests with hundreds of pins displayed on them? Our stockings look like that.

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posted December 2, 2010 at 8:22 am

1. Similarly, I grew up opening gifts on Christmas Eve – after going to the Christmas Eve service at church. I think my parents wanted us kids to know that the presents were from them. :) Now, on Christmas morning we would open our stockings (which were from Santa, of course).
2. Christmas Eve dinner always consisted of Kings Tacos – some crazy concoction of corn beef hash, cabbage, and salsa, all wrapped together in a fried taco. Each taco was held together with a toothpick. The game each year was to see how many toothpicks you could accumulate (read: eat as many tacos as you can). If I’m not mistaken, my dad still holds the record for 17 tacos back in 1999.

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posted December 2, 2010 at 8:50 am

Depending upon which day Christmas Eve falls on, I will have a half day of work. The night is always spent at with my mom–been that way since my parents divorced almost 30 years ago. There is eating if course, and a gift-exchange, but it has devolved into a maddening free-for-all. You see, my mom, stepdad, brother, and step brothers don’t share in our faith, don’t celebrate Christmas as the coming of the King. As much as it is a privilege to get together, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to start our own tradition, instead of having this obligation. At least that’s what it feels like–an obligation. Maybe we’re failing as Christians, but we live very different lives from those of my extended family, and as such our company isn’t looked for throughout the year. I guess I don’t know how to have an impact with them.
As for a second tradition, we let the kids open one present on Christmas Eve after getting home from my mom’s. Even though our 12 year-old is hip to there being no jolly fat man in a red suit, our four year-old isn’t–so we put out milk and cookies. This year, my son (12) has graciously offered to help dad with the eating/drinking thereof, thus sparing my already burgeoning waistline. And for that I’m thankful.

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David N.

posted December 2, 2010 at 9:01 am

1. Since the first year we were married we’ve hosted a huge Christmas party the Saturday before Christmas every year. This year will be our 9th. People bring snacks and drinks, everyone has a blast till about 3 in the morning, and then we all look hungover at church the next day, if we make it at all. Good times.
2. Our family has always played games on Christmas Eve, and when I was still at home this meant each person actually received a new game every year. Now my wife and I just play a classic together, though nothing quite as epic as the year we stayed up till dawn playing one six hour game of Star Wars Epic Duels. She won. By four hit points.

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Charlie Chang

posted December 2, 2010 at 9:04 am

To be honest, we’re a 4 year old young family and we ourselves haven’t established a tradition yet. So we sort of piggy back off what other people in our family do. We normally go to my in laws house on Christmas around noonish or my brother’s house and pretty much just hang out and eat all day.
Ever since going to the Baptist church for the past 30 years, my mother always received a couple of Christmas grocery bags full of food. The deacons are the ones who deliver them and for some reason they add 2 more bags for me and my family. My mom calls me and we pick up the 2 extra bags but I simply give them to my buddy who’s a single dad raising his 6 year old. He needs those 2 bags more than my family does. I’ve done that for the past 3 years.

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Shauna F.

posted December 2, 2010 at 10:25 am

1. We have decorations throughout the house, and several creches. At some point on Christmas Eve the kids quietly take all the baby Jesuses out. Then on Christmas morning, with great exultation, baby Jesus is born in all of his creches. Then we open presents, then we eat, then we play.
2. One of my favorite odd traditions came out of teaching the kids to think of others, especially during the Christmas season. We always find ourselves in a drive-thru on the way to run another errand–so we started buying the meal for the car behind us. Our instructions to the astonished window-person is always, “Tell them, Merry Christmas!” Now the kids are driving, and they continue the tradition.

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posted December 2, 2010 at 10:27 am

1. I have a few favorite traditions. The night before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve, if you will) we go play games with some family friends. We have to stay up until midnight, and wish each other a Merry Christmas Eve before leaving. On Christmas morning, we have Christmas breakfast at my Grandmother’s. We have always had Christmas breakfast there, never Christmas lunch or Christmas dinner. It’s a huge, southern breakfast, too–fried eggs, country ham, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, biscuits, etc. Because of our early get-together, my immediate family has always opened gifts on Christmas Eve.
2. Our strangest tradition began several years ago, by accident. While putting up the Christmas tree and listening to Christmas music, the John Denver and the Muppets version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” came on. My dad and I started dancing along–more interpretive-movement, less dancing, really. Ever since, we have done this same dance. We got my sister to join in one year, but only once.

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posted December 2, 2010 at 11:00 am

So, sadly we have ended this tradition but it was still alive until this past year. My friend and I used to attend the midnight Christmas eve service at church and then change in the bathroom into Elf costumes afterwards. These were not store bought costumes, nor were they the same every year … they were mix-matched Christmas-wear that varied from year to year. We had presents with us and would venture out to one particular family (the same one every year) and deliver presents to them like we were Santa’s elves. Their kids were young when we started this, but it continues for about 10 years and became hilarious. Even after the parents divorced, we started making 2 different trips and visited both houses whether the kids were there or not.
While we were hesitant to stop this tradition, both of the elves have moved away and one of the ‘kids’ is now in college. We figured 10 years was a nice round number. :) I miss that.

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erik cantu

posted December 2, 2010 at 11:11 am

My French-Canadian grandmother created this one: The Bonseture. During the month of December, if the children are good during the day, the Bonseture will leave small gifts or candy on the doorstep and ring the doorbell. My grandmother’s motivation to create this Christmas figure was so that her kids (my mother and her siblings) would be more encouraged to behave and go to bed on time during the high stress time of December.

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posted December 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Sadly, our extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins) have given up the Christmas Eve tradition. So we try to spend it with my husband’s parents and brother. Then we usually go to “midnight mass” (which actually starts at 10.30 or 11). We generally reserve Christmas Day for the two of us, we’ve done a variety of things. We had hoped to have children, but they’ve not come, so we are trying to transition our thoughts to “a family of two” traditions.
Our unique tradition is to put up the tree with lights and one ornament for a week or so until we decorate. We got engaged on 10 December. I already had a tree up in my house. He came to take me to dinner & while i wasn’t looking added a beautiful ornamental box. Inside, a ring and “Will you marry me” in a note. We still have the same artificial tree. When i took it down that year i tied a red ribbon to the branch where the box was. So every year by the 10th we have the tree up with lights and the box ornament (i wear the ring, but the note is still inside).
Pics here:

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posted December 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I grew up in Sydney, Australia, where Christmas falls in the middle of the Summer holidays. The tradition which might be different from Northern Hemisphere customs is that on the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, everybody goes to the beach!

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posted December 2, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I grew up with everything focused on Christmas Eve, we would bring in and decorate the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve, go to Christmas Sauna in the evening, and afterwards open the presents. No bedtime either, but I would generally fall asleep playing before morning came.
Christmas Day was spent doing not a heck of a lot, eating what was leftover from Christmas Eve dinner, playing with new toys and such things.
Now that we have our own kids, our traditions are a mish-mash of nordic, german and north american traditions. The kids put their shoes out on the windowsill during nights leading to Christmas, and Santa fills them with candy. Christmas Eve is family christmas time, so we do presents at my inlaws with my wife’s family. Christmas morning is santa present time. Christmas dinner is moved to Christmas Day.
We don’t make a conscious effort to keep Jesus out of our Christmas. We do songs, even hymns, and have a star on top of our tree. I think there’s even an angel hanged up somewhere on the branches.

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jay sauser

posted December 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I like to turn all the lights off in the living room, turn the tree lights on, sip on hot cider while listening to Mannheim Steamroller. It takes me back to being a kid. I love to relax that way.

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Jason Boyett

posted December 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm

“Christmas sauna”?
Finland is awesome.

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posted December 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Favorite? Baking with old recipes and thereby learning about family history year after year. For the record, I do love a Christmas Eve sauna.
Strangest? It’s a toss-up between a Minnesota long run or oyster stew.

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