This weekend I’m trying to wrap up (figuratively, not yet literally), the Ho-Ho-Ho component of the boys’ Christmas. I wish I were one of those people who was finished with all the shopping and wrapping by Thanksgiving. But nope. Historically, I’ve been a freaking-out-on-December-23rd person. I’m talking even before I had kids – maybe even more then. Now though, the magic of Christmas for the boys is so special and I want them to remember our Christmas and holiday traditions!
Christmas Memories: Traditions or Toys?
I remember some Christmases when I was little that BLEW. MY. MIND.
- I remember the year Santa brought me a Barbie pool! Cool Summer Barbie was sitting on the slide, ready to slide down into that pool full of water with Ken (swoon) on the other side of the pool, waiting for her.
- One year I got both an Easy Bake Oven AND a Pizza Hut oven – which was like an Easy Bake except made little pizzas. The Easy Bake used to just cook cakes – now I think they come with pizza kits too!
- I also remember the year I got a record player and there were 45s hung all over the tree!
In the event you’d like to go old-school with your musical experience, this is an actual vinyl record player you can get on Amazon right now. You can get it with a variety of cool cases, and it has built-in speakers and Bluetooth, all for your vinyl listening pleasure.
Aaaannnyyywhoooo….point is – while some Santa gifts made an impression of course, mostly I remember the traditions.
I LOVE hearing people’s family traditions – holiday traditions, vacation traditions, coming-of-age traditions, all of it. So I thought I’d share some of our family’s traditions!
My Childhood Traditions
Traditions I remember from when I was a little girl were mostly traditions from when my mom was a little girl. The ones I remember most, and that I now do for my boys are:
Reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve
I remember sitting on my dad’s lap as he read it to me when I was little. The boys’ first Christmas, my cousin gave us this gorgeous “Animotion” version of the book. The boys love how the images dance on the pages. I think it’s classified as a board book – It looks like this:
Growing up there were always, ALWAYS, some staples in my stocking:
- A HUGE navel orange, in the toe
- A HUGE red apple, with the orange
- Whole walnuts
- Some chocolate – like maybe some bells or kisses
- A small wrapped gift in Santa paper
- A Pez sticking out of the top
There were definitely other stocking stuffers – socks, underwear, miscellaneous things. Sometimes when I was older there was a special gift in there – a special necklace, concert tickets, etc. But the list of six above is what I remember most about my stocking.
Santa Gifts: wrapped or unwrapped?
In my childhood – both. Santa left WOW gifts unwrapped in front of the tree, typically, but there were also some gifts wrapped in special Santa paper that he’d chosen just for me.
When my boys were maybe 3, Santa started wrapping gifts in special paper for them – each has a different special paper so they know which is theirs. Somehow Santa has used the SAME special paper every year so far! I don’t know where he found the enormous rolls of paper – but there is still enough to use now!
Events and Operating Procedures
I don’t really remember much about our Christmas Eves when I was little-little.
As a teenager, I remember going to one of my aunt’s and uncle’s houses many Christmas Eves – often after church. I don’t think we went to church every Christmas Eve – but sometimes – either evening service or midnight service.
Other things I remember about Christmas Eve was riding around looking at Christmas lights – I’ll have to ask my mom if this was a normal Christmas Eve activity or if I just remember doing that sometime leading up to Christmas. I’m not sure.
Before bed my dad would read Twas the Night Before Christmas, and then, believe it or not, sometimes I actually heard SLEIGH BELLS and would promptly go to sleep so as not to land on the Naughty List at the last minute!
My mom would ooh and aah over what she glimpsed, and if she hadn’t already, she would turn on the Christmas lights, put on Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper, and position herself just right, camera in hand, to snap a picture of me coming out and seeing the gifts Santa brought.
Typically after the initial fun, I would dump my stocking out and my mom would get coffee and put a pot of grits on the stove. (Today we make sure to have Gracious Grits on hand at all times and extra on Christmas morning. Look for them in the heat-and-eat side dishes section of your grocery store. If you are near a Publix in the Southeast you should be able to find them. If you don’t have a Publix, check your grocery store! They are SO good!)
As for gifts – we didn’t do the 4-gift rule specifically – but we did always have something to play with, something to wear, and something to read on Christmas morning.
Mid-morning I’d put on whatever new duds I’d gotten, choose my favorite portable gift and we’d head over to my grandmother’s house for Christmas morning with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was always a big breakfast spread, then gifts (my aunts and uncles drew names when I was little, and they went into ALL OUT PRODUCTION MODE some years! So fun!).
Christmas Morning Launch
Christmas morning at Grama’s typically capped off with the brothers/uncles getting model rockets to build. They’d sit around building, painting and perfecting them until mid-afternoon. Then we would head over to a nearby schoolyard to launch rockets.
Carrying on Family Christmas Traditions
I can’t wait to post this and see if my mom remembers specific traditions differently. Funny how the memory works.
Now that I have the boys, I’ve carried on quite a few of the traditions my mom did with me.
With life and the world changing the way it does, I’ve started a few new traditions for my boys. I’ll tell you about some of those tomorrow though!
In the meantime, what traditions did YOU grow up with that you now carry on with your kids?
Originally posted December 14, 2019. Updated and reposted December 14, 2020.
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