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What’s Your Favorite Holiday Tradition? (Part 1)

Fill in the blank. My holiday season would not be complete without   ________________. (Please fill in your favorite holiday tradition.)

When my mom downsized and moved to a two-room apartment, one of the first things she assured us was that she still had room to host Christmas breakfast for my family of four.

Christmas morning at our home is a race – we get up early (no later than 6 a.m.), wait for my husband to make coffee and turn on the video camera, rip open our gifts, change, and head to grandmom’s for THAT breakfast. You know, the one we looked forward to the other 364 days of the year – eggs smothered in cheese and served on a warm English muffin, sweet rolls topped with gobs of cream cheese frosting, fresh fruit and warm apple cider, YUM!  You’ve got to love tradition!!

I posed this question to my Susquehanna colleagues: What’s your favorite holiday tradition? For many of our employees, fond memories are associated with Christmas Eve – these traditions involve time spent with family, a favorite holiday TV show or book, food (of course!) and believe it or not pajamas – four different employees mentioned getting new “Christmas jams” on Christmas Eve.

Because we had so many responses, part one of the blog will focus on Christmas Eve traditions. Part two will run later this week.

At twenty-something, Allie’s holiday season would not be complete without her mom reading the “Night Before Christmas. “At 23 and 25 years old she still sits my brother and me down on Christmas Eve and reads it to us. We cannot wait to pass this tradition down to our future families!”

As a child, JoEllyn and her family opened one gift before going to bed. “We usually chose a gift that a sibling had gotten for us. Afterward, we would read The Polar Express and head to bed. It’s a tradition we continue to do each year, sharing it now with my nephews.  Eventually we plan to start the tradition anew when my husband and I start our own family.”

 “Christmas Eve has been our tradition since I was a little girl and I am trying to continue it for my son who is five,” said Iris. “We all gather at my mother’s house and watch Christmas shows and catch up with the rest of the family, while the kids watch the clock….at midnight we let them open gifts – it’s all about the kids…”

When the kids were small, Ann and her family spent Christmas Eve playing Christmas music, decorating sugar cookies and just “having a ball… After the cookies were decorated, I would send my children in for their baths. While they were bathing, I would lay new Christmas pajamas on their beds.  They were always so excited to see what they were going to wear! We would all gather in the living room to pick two cookies to leave by the tree.  We would watch the Muppets Christmas Carol, then off to bed!!  My children are grown, but they still decorate cookies and wear ‘Christmas Jams’ all the same!! “

Christmas Eve for Terri and Angie includes a fabulous seafood feast, while Lori and her family stick to an ethnic spread…  A snack of shrimp, cocktail sauce and cabbage pierogies tides the family over through mass, and then it’s a feast fit for a king.  “Our Christmas Eve dinner, is based on Eastern European traditions and begins with small portions of bread, garlic, honey, prunes, and blessed oplatek (like a Communion wafer).  Everyone must eat some of everything, even the little ones. Then we must all eat some cabbage soup (whether you like it or not!).  Next it’s a festival of dough, grease and seafood!  Potato pierogies smothered in butter and onions, haluski, crab cakes, breaded fish, scallops, and the token green vegetable which no one eats!  Fruit and Christmas cookies for dessert!  Amazing!

Betsy says, “Our usual tradition is that we open a great bottle of champagne and listen to Christmas music.  After Susie, the cat, and I have our steamed shrimp, hubby and I open our presents- first me, then him, then me, then Susie, etc.”

For Christianne,  it’s a “party” of snacks after church, while watching a  Christmas Carol…” and we all get to open one present Santa dropped off early, which is always new pajamas to wait for his arrival in.  To this day we still open new pj’s on Christmas Eve and I am so excited to have the tradition now with my daughter – I can’t wait to see her in new “jammies.”

A tradition that Sharon misses, but is hoping to see her kids begin with their children: “decorating a little tree on Christmas Eve night after the kids are fast asleep.  To see their faces the next morning knowing Santa brought them their very own special tree with all kinds of presents was priceless.”

Finally, according to Tiffany, “My holiday season would not be complete without going to look at Christmas lights after the Christmas Eve service! That’s my favorite part of the holiday season! I love driving around listening to Christmas music and look at the bright lights on the houses all decorated for the season.”

Be sure to check back later this week for our second collection of employees’ favorite holiday traditions! In the meantime, let us know your own favorite tradition in the Comments section below.

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